A Trans-Woman's Journey of Authenticity with Ana Mercado | Episode 4

A Trans-Woman's Journey of Authenticity with Ana Mercado | Episode 4

In this episode, Ana (an ex-mormon Dominican-American Trans Woman) shares her story. Themes that are addressed include:

-Growing up in the LDS Religion 

-Anxiety and Perfectionism

-Gender Dysphoria 

-Transitioning to a more authentic self

 

Follow Kimber on instagram @justbeyourbadself 

For guest bios, episode transcripts or to leave a review, please visit: www.justbeyourbadself.com

Resources for further study

 “Man Enough” Podcast episode with Alok

Transcript

[00:00:00] Intro

Kimber: Welcome back to the Just Be Your Bad Self podcast, where you get to show up imperfectly, make space for your authentic self, remember your inner child, and sink into the magic of the present moment. I'm your host Kimber Dutton. And today I'll be talking with Ana Mercado.

Ana is a Dominican American trans woman who was raised Mormon. And I'm honored that she is sharing her journey of authenticity on this platform.

Welcome to the podcast.

Ana: Oh, it's recording. Yay.

Kimber: We tried, we've been recording for probably 20 minutes and I realized it wasn't recording. So hopefully we get all the good stuff that we were talking about before we pushed the real record button, but all right. So take two, go ahead and introduce yourself and we'll dive into your story.

Ana: Heck. Yeah. Okay. So my name's Ana Mercado , I'm a transgender woman who lives in Seattle area. I was born to a Dominican father and a American mom and yeah, I grew up LDS. My parents are both LDS my dad is a convert. My mom is sort of deeply rooted in the Southern Utah, . Quote, unquote pioneers .

I went to BYU-Idaho, started my undergrad flunked out, took four years off and then went back and finished. Cause I decided I needed to finish. And that was a degree in flute performance. And then after that, I, I just really needed a job. So I took the first one that was available and it was a job working as a cashier in a truck stop.

And I kind of lost myself for three years there, which is fine. That was just part of my journey. But now for the last four or five months, I've been working for Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Puget Sound as a bilingual enrollment coordinator. I'm doing it in English and Spanish. So that's the overview of my story, .

I guess. But yeah. So I'll just jump right in and you can interrupt as we're going.

Kimber: So really quick. Ana and I know each other from BYU- Idaho, we were both music majors there, and I knew her before her transition. And we've, we've stayed in that distant friends, social media touch, but we've never really dived into her story before. We were both raised LDS.

We've both since left that religion. And it's been fun for me. I haven't seen the whole process of your transition, but it was exciting to me when I saw that you had started making this transition, because you can tell when someone steps into their light, I knew you at BYU, Idaho. And even then you had a big personality, but it's different because you had this big personality that you were trying to hide parts of yourself.

And now looking at you, you seem so much more just centered in yourself and confident in who you are.

Ana: 100%. You might not even remember, but at the time you knew me, I probably wore really big baggy ill-fitting and just not flattering clothes. The whole idea was to obscure me was to hide, was to just get through it,

Kimber: The whole purpose of this podcast, just be your bad self" it's about authenticity. And I think as a transgender woman, I could be wrong , but I imagine that coming out as transgender has gotta be one of the bravest shows of authenticity anyone can do.

So I'm really excited to have you on this podcast. I think it will be an inspirational thing because a lot of us perfectionists and people who are people pleasers, it's a lot smaller things that we're afraid of. And you identifying as a woman when you're born in a male body. That's the ultimate example of being your bad self.

Ana: At the time, I didn't feel brave, but I think almost a year in I'm realizing just how brave I was, but I'll get to that, .

[00:04:12] Feeling Different

Kimber: Let's start with, when did you first realize you felt different?

Ana: Oh, from the age of five, it's sad to look back and realize that. Cause before then I was just a kid and it was easy to just be a kid. I don't even remember anything that was going on at that time, but around five to 10, I really started to notice that me and my oldest sibling, who was born female who's non-binary so I refer them in a gender neutral way. They had a female body and I noticed the differences and it just, , something was wrong. It didn't feel right. And from that point on, I just felt like something was wrong and I would be among the boys growing up because that's where everyone thought I was supposed to be. And it just didn't make sense and it never felt right. Fast forward to being a teenager. I just had all these issues of self-regulation inability to regulate my temper and just no, no tools because ,bless my parents, who are wonderful people, they didn't have the tools to equip me with to deal with my own emotions and express them healthily because they were too busy. Getting to know who they were as a couple, which they never really had the chance to do because there was very little courtship before they're married.

And. Started having kids right away, which while it's not a Mormon commandment, it's certainly a Mormon way of doing things.

And so they quickly had four kids, so they just never had time. And that's, I certainly don't fault them now as an adult. Cause I just that's the culture they grew up in.

And so yeah, they just didn't know how to equip me with the tools to regulate myself. So when you feel something so deeply about the wrongness of who you are. Or who you're being told you are? It's hard not to be for me anyway. It was hard. Not. To react to that as a very explosive person. Because I just felt like something was wrong from the very beginning.

And I had no words because I was born in 1991. So I grew up those first 10 years were in the nineties. There was no vocabulary for a transgender person. There was no words or at least not widely accepted. And certainly not anything that a young sheltered Mormon child would hear.

Kimber: Yeah.

Ana: There's just no way I would have been aware.

I mean, I wasn't even aware of what gay people were until high school. I certainly would not have the vocabulary to have defined what I was feeling. So it was just a lot of feeling isolated feeling alone

[00:06:55] Self-Hatred and Confusion

Kimber: Did you feel like there was something wrong with you?

Ana: Yeah! that, Oh yeah, because. I would interact with my body in such a negative way. I hated it. I still hate parts of it. Frankly, I hate my penis. I have a penis, I was born with a penis. I hate it. I don't do it. It's very dysphoric for me, which is a term. We'll talk about I'm sure. Just, I definitely, I just remember feeling like this wasn't right.

Something's not right here. I couldn't name it and I couldn't express it really. But I just hated existing the way I was existing.

Kimber: That sounds. So I'm just thinking about people that struggle with anxiety and depression. Even though, , there's something wrong, what a relief it is to be able to name it and to know you're not alone in that and to grow up for so many years and not even be able to name what's causing this sense of self hatred must have been so painful.

Ana: Yeah, and it's crazy. Cause I, at the time I didn't even understand how much pain I was in. When I look back, it's interesting. Sometimes I look back at the, the pictures that exist from that time from those kids, from when I was in school and I instantly get emotional and sometimes I don't know why.

And now I do know why, because when I look back I'm like that, wasn't, it just wasn't me and I wasn't, I was never me in that time. And it's so sad because I deserved to be me. But I just wasn't equipped to be.

Kimber: And gender is such a basic part of our identity, because I would argue that most people don't feel like they're totally themselves. , we're always developing, but that gender piece is something most of us have from the moment we're born, that we don't even think about having to find that part of our identity because it's handed to us.

And most of us identify as the gender we are born as.

Ana: Yeah, this idea of the gender binary, right? You're handed this thing and it says, you're a boy, you're a girl. , from the very beginning. From before you're even actually born there's gender reveals, not everybody does them, but these days they're a big thing.

There's general reveals. And I'm not saying there's anything wrong with gender reveals. Do your thing, get, get the blue or pink cake. Get. The thing that you're going to hit and it's going to bust open, go off. That's wonderful. I, I don't see anything particularly wrong with that. I just think it's important, especially now in these days to be open to the idea that your child might not identify with that, and you're going to be fluid.

Right. Which is unrealistic for most people because they just don't believe in all that. Right. Um, So I was handed this card and this body that , according to everyone, I was a boy. That's it , period. And I, and how wild, right? The very basis of who you are before you even have a name, you're a boy or you're a girl.

Kimber: Yeah.

Ana:

That's wild to know that that's wrong, but not know why it's wrong or how to talk about what's wrong with them. So yeah, so I'm just this angry, sad, lonely perfectionist, because I grew up Mormon, which produces a religion of anxious, perfectionist. It's just, it's like a factory for us. We just really do come out with severe anxiety. And just wanting to do the absolute best. And some people do do a lot of the best, but others like me, I just crumble and I freeze and I just let it all flow by. Cause I can't, I can't cope with not doing right. So I just don't do at all. And that's the thing I still struggle with is conquering those big tasks.

That that are more long-term and that I feel the weight of them. So I just say not for me because I'm too much of a perfectionist to the point where it makes me incapable of doing many things.

Kimber: That freezing self-sabotaging, especially when you're already struggling so much with identity and you already from the get, go feel like, Well, who I am at a core level is wrong, then why then why try?

That sounds so depressing, but I can see where you're coming from.

Ana: Well, and it's interesting. It's nice that we got to start over. Cause I'm thinking of things that I didn't think of before. But , yeah, as I was talking about Clothes. clothes are big thing for me, my parents are make fun of me now. Cause I have like 33 pairs of shoes, which

 

is kind of funny, but it's, it's also a fulfillment of my whole life,

it's the joy of everything making sense and putting them on and being like this feels right, this feels so good. And I have to control myself a little bit, but yeah. Cause when I was a kid I would wear like in high school, for example, I could show you pictures from my yearbooks, which I still have, who me bring these baggy clothes because first of all, I was fat kid.

I mean that there's whole thing to talk about there, but I was a fat kid. I have chronic psoriasis, which manifests quite aggressively. Even when it's under control, it's still perceptible. So all these things just came together into this perfect storm of just like I can never possibly look good.

So I just took that and I threw on the baggiest ugliest. Most ill fitting and non flattering clothing constantly. And I just looked horrible which was just a reflection of how I felt. And I didn't care now to try and dress well. There was no hope there. There was no hope for me which is sad to say because I spent so long of my aware part of my life.

Not feeling much hope and not feeling much confidence. And not allowing myself to take up space or exist at all. And so, yeah. so then I went to college again still lonely, still sad. Still extremely isolated from the people around me. Add to that in my sort of adolescents, I picked up masturbation and porn because it was this, this one time that I didn't have to really think about how sad.

It made me feel good. And this is just on a base level. Right. It's not about how I felt in my mind. It's how it's about the chemical release, right. The elation immediately after I felt horrible and I felt shame because. In our religion. , masturbation is a sexual sin.

And I was already soaking myself in tons of shame because I was beginning to feel attraction towards men, which was wrong also. And I couldn't express that at any level certainly not at a school surrounded by Mormons. And so I just sunk deeper. Right.

[00:14:08] Trying on New-Labels

Kimber: I'm curious, when you found that label of gay. Even though that didn't fully, well, it's not what you are, but it came a little closer. It was the closest thing you had. Was it a little bit of relief, even though it was a label that was so rejected by your culture, your religion, your school, was it any kind of relief to find something, to describe where you

Ana: Think, I can't even remember when it was, but I think it was when I was in high school, late high school. I had this moment where I looked in the mirror and I was just like, it was really hard to say, but , I finally got to a point where I said,

I am gay and cause that's the language I had been given to express my attraction to men. So I did, I used it and it sort of worked. I certainly felt a little bit freer to myself. It didn't help anything though, because I couldn't be open with anybody else. cause

I was going off to BYUI.

Kimber: Oh yeah. Did you come out to anybody as gay?

Ana: Not well, I was at school the first time. I came close, but I never, I never put it into words. Anyway, so I spent. My last semester, before I failed out of BYU, Idaho, just living a really gross life. Not very hygienic, not very anything. It was just really depressing. Which just made it worse. Right. I had no connection, no seeming connection to people other than a couple of friends who would try and come see me and a teacher who tried to encourage me, Dr.

Luke, shout out to her. Just amazing. She did. But I just wasn't ready. And so I failed out of school and I spent four or five years in a place of just, where probably suicidal, but just so far beyond, even being able to do that

Kimber: And I think, I think sometimes with suicidal ideation, it's , not, not that you necessarily want to kill yourself, but that you fantasize about just not existing anymore. Is that maybe where you were at?

Ana: It's so interesting that you've mentioned that that's suicidal ideation because in my whole life I would, I've often said , I'm lucky. I didn't deal with thoughts of suicide, but I did fantasize about not existing. And it's wild now I've made that connection. So I realized I was actually there it's just wouldn't have happened.

Cause I didn't, I couldn't even do that. So I lived this really dark, sad life for four or five years. And it's wild because what brought me out of it was the desire to return. Oh, what? I'm skipping. Okay. So fast forward to the sort of tail end of all, that, that four year period.

[00:16:57] Coming out as Gay

Ana: My parents were visiting because they had lived, they had moved to the Dominican Republic at this point and they were visiting. They came in and they sat me down. And my mom told me that my dad had had a feeling. He suspected that I was gay and it was this sort of, it was sort of a positive thing.

I could finally say it, but I felt like I had to qualify it. I felt like I had to be like,but, I haven't done anything. I'm like, I'm crying. And I'm like, I'm just, it's this whole mess. And it was great in some ways, , I finally got to say it out loud and my parents were accepting of me and did not turn me away or anything.

But they certainly still hoped. I think that I would be very LDS very Mormon in the way I behave. So it wasn't a vocalized expectation, but it certainly one I imposed upon myself because I thought that that was gonna be the expectation.

Kimber: And did they think? Cause I remember at the time, especially, I don't think the church has quite so much this way anymore, but the thought was , it was something you could change about yourself.

Ana: No. I think by that point they'd realized that, that wasn't true. Cause

nobody neither, neither of them encouraged me.

Kimber: But they just expected you to stay.

Ana: I don't know. I don't know that they expected that I was so caught up in, in imposing my book, perceived expectations from them on myself.

So I don't know what they thought or what they felt. I think my mom was just so flabbergasted. I don't think she, she tells me all the time. She had no idea, which is wild to me looking back. , she's just my mom, I'm just her child. We don't see each other like that. I don't think, , we see each other as who we are.

[00:18:47] Returning to School and Church

Ana: And so so that was freeing , it was certainly a way to off it felt free. And then I wanted to go back to school that we've somehow out of this haze. That was actually around the time I saw you again,

Kimber: I was just thinking, I wonder when that was that I saw you

Ana: My great aunt asked me if I wanted to go down to our family in Hurricane and Laverkin.

And I was like, yeah. So I did, I went, it was mostly positive experience. I got to see you again and connect for a minute because I just happened to go to. Performance you were putting on with my uncle and my aunt. And we were like, oh yeah, let's go watch this. And I was like, I know her.

She's one of my favorite people from when I was at BYU-Idaho. And it was just so sweet. I got a moment where I got to connect with you. I sorta tried to share a little bit, but you were, I mean, I didn't want to, like, it would have been hours, honestly, so I just was cause you, you did, you asked oh, what happened to you? And I was like it's just a lot of stuff and sort of getting back there.

And I was, that was when I finally started to get back to me or at least some functioning version of me. But it was really sweet to see you and connect with you at that time. It was very nice. It meant a lot to me. So fast forward, I decided I wanted to go back to school, but they would not accept me if I hadn't been going to some Institute.

So I started going to Institute which meant I also started going to church. And at this time I have no animosity towards the church. I felt perfectly fine with that. And quite frankly, in a lot of ways, they saved me because if there's anything, the church does well it's community for the people that they feel that belong.

And thankfully in my singles ward, there were a lot of people I knew growing up in that area. I have very deep ties to this area that I live in. As far as the church is concerned. And so it was a positive experience. They gave me three callings. I was the choir director, the music chair and the chorister in Sacrament Meeting. It was everything music. I had a purpose. I had something to do something to drive me. And, and it was great. And eventually I got accepted to school again. So I went back and I started to, and at this time you could be openly gay. But also obey the, you know,, you just get that's it, you, it does.

It's not an integral part of who you are. Right. so I did, I started to slowly come out to people and it was nice. Sister Solberg Diane Solberg was amazing. Her and Dr. Luke Helped me get re accepted to the music program, I was a music major, and my first semester back and having that music community throughout the time there, I, I can't even express how amazing that was for me.

Because it was a safe space which didn't exist for most kids on campus, unless you were in some sort of arts degree. So that was awesome. And for a time it felt, it felt good because I was finally just expressing myself and slowly started being more open. Also, when you exist in the margins of a space, BYUI.

Use begin to enculture or people in the margins, these being people of color, other queer people women who understand how on some level they are oppressed within the hierarchy of the church. And you make friends

Kimber: And at the time, just to clarify, were you still identifying as gay at this time?

Ana: Yeah. At this time, I really identifying as a gay male. And so I found this group. Understanding, same gender attraction, Rexburg. It helped me connect with other queer people. And it helped me. It helped me in a lot of ways to come out of myself, being more brave for myself and others stand up for people in ways that I hadn't been able to before, especially in the forum of the Mormon.

[00:22:57] Exposure to Transgender People

Ana: But it also was my first introduction to address transgender person. This is where it all started and I have this friend, her name is Lana Strathern, and she will not mind me saying this. She was doing a project. Sort of reveletory project and revolutionary.

She wanted to do her final project on transgender people. She is a cisgender straight woman to my knowledge at the time. That's how she ended up, but she felt that she needed to do this thing and understand transgender members who were Mormon.

Kimber: Do you remember what year this was?

Ana: This would have, have to have been in 2016 ish to meet. So not that long ago, but it's still extremely revolutionary for the time. And so there's this transgender man named Emmett who had gone to BYU, Idaho pre-transition and had ended up leaving. But it was still a member and was sort of navigating what it is to be a transgender person and a member of the church and like a faithful member of the church.

And so he came and spoke. And I got to meet him and I was still so weirded out and this was a meal was important, right? A trans person can be transphobic and a gay person can be homophobic and a woman can be, can support a misogynistic system. Right. We can be the things that are oppressing us.

So I was very transphobic at the time. I was like, this was weird, but secretly somewhere deep down, I was like, wait, what? . And Emmett was a transgender man, so I didn't necessarily connect with him like that. But then Juana had announced she was going to a transgender FHA down in salt lake.

And she was like, if anybody wants to go and learn more, let's go. And I was like, Yeah, I'm going to educate myself. That's what it felt like. Right. But then I went and I saw all these trans women in different stages of transition. Some were just only able to dress the way they want it. They weren't able to pursue a physical transition, but they did it anyway.

They were extremely brave, which, I mean, you wish that we didn't live in a world where that was brave, but it was. Especially in salt lake city area, I was just like, oh

Kimber: Yeah.

Ana: and I was also weirded out at the same time. Cause you have this, this indoctrinated teaching of men wear men's clothes and women wear women's clothes and they look weird and I was so blown away.

But on another level I was like, but wait that's what I want. Like not those outfits, but like those clothes, I was like, Oh my gosh. And that's my first introduction to transgender people. And just realizing that they exist, that I exist. There's words, there's terminology. And I fought it for a while, too.

I was like, no, I'm just gay. Sometimes, I think I might be trans, but then I'm like, no, I'm gay. I'm just a gay man. And, and I remember saying those things, things like that to roommates. Cause at one point I had apartment of gay roommates, which awesome. That's such a nice thing to have a safe space at BYU Idaho.

[00:26:21] Leaving the LDS Church

Ana: But yeah, I remember saying no, I don't, I don't think so. But fast forward a little bit. Cause I left the church. The second I graduated. And that was part of setting myself free. I was finally free

Kimber: I need to clarify for those of our listeners who aren't, who didn't grow up in the LDS faith, or are familiar with church schools, if you leave the church or even stop attending church, while you're going to school at a church school, you get kicked out of school. Was that still the policy while you were there?

Is it still policy now? I don't even know.

Ana: Yeah. You certainly have to attend church and stuff, but I, in my last semester, those last three or four weeks, I just didn't go because you can get away with that. Right. , you find the loopholes, you miss one week, you're like, oh, I was just not here or something like that.

But Yeah. And by this point I had become a very liberal person, liberal minded. And I realized that the church didn't think that I believed the basics of who I am and the good person I am, because that's the thing. Right? So many people who leave the church it's because it's because of what the church taught them to be: good people.

And we find that we're not being that person within the church.

Kimber: And we're not living up to our own values, much of which were instilled in us. Like you were saying, instilled in us by the church.

Ana: right,

Kimber: And then all of a sudden the church isn't living up to these values for us.

Ana: Right. So then we take that with us and we're like deuces And so , it didn't take long to just realize, I was finally free and Mormon people would hear that and they're like, oh yeah, that's that temporary happiness or whatever they call it.

Kimber: it's not true joy.

Ana: right.

And the reality is it's not true joy. Cause life doesn't just have pure true joy. That's silly. But it is contentment. It's true. Contentment.

Kimber: And acts and self-acceptance Right,

You could finally be aligned with yourself without feeling ashamed of yourself. What a burden to be able to let go of.

[00:28:28] Beginning to Identify as a Transgender Woman

Ana: right. And so, cause what are you print September? So fast forward, , so shitty years working at a truck stop. So that the, it was around sometime last year. I want to say that the middle of last year, I was just like the more and more I thought about it. Cause I'm, I'm able to have that time.

Right. And think about these things and experience people who are trans and openly trans. I had a friend who came out as a transgender woman, a little over a year ago. On Facebook. And I was like, oh my gosh, that's so cool. good for her. And the more I realized that I wasn't there yet, , I couldn't name what was wrong yet, but I was just like, I'm not there yet.

Something's still missing. And I realized, , I definitely identified it as what? In the LGBTQ community, you might call a fem gay. I was very feminine very feminine. My feminine side is certainly more prominent than my masculine side. Cause we all have a little bit of both. And they don't actually have those names really if you strip it down.

But that just, I was just kinda like, okay. Yeah. That's, that's fine. But then this one really nice man at book job, I was working at, started using female pronouns with me. He called me, she, her this, this and that even though my name was still the name I was given at birth. And I still looked pretty pretty male.

I would say, , typically and I was just kinda like, huh. Okay. I'm not mad at that. And it was really sweet because he didn't know what he was doing. Honestly, he just was like, yeah, you just seem like that's cool. And I was like, yeah, that works. Yeah. And then I started to realize oh, wait a minute.

[00:30:20] Gender Dysphoria

Ana: Maybe that's. Oh, and slowly but surely I was like, yeah, I don't, I hate my name. I hate my body. My penis, which I should clarify that not every trans woman feels dysphoria. That's the word gender dysphoria is when, what your body is, does not connect with what you feel it should be.

I mean, I'm probably explaining it wrong, but for me, my penis is a very dysphoric thing for many trans men. Their breasts are a very dysphoric thing. And so they have them remove for many trans women not having breasts is very dysphoric having facial hair and being hairy in general. If they are, is very dysphoric, it causes conflict.

Just touching my face and feeling facial hair. Sometimes it just it's so deeply disturbing to me it's and seeing it, I don't know, this is a whole thing. That's hard to explain unless you experience it. but not every trans woman experiences dysphoria when it comes to their penis. Not every trans man experiences dysphoria when it comes to their breasts.

That's like the crazy thing, right. Is now we're really realizing that gender is a spectrum and the presentation of your gender is a spectrum. A lot of what's so liberating is that a lot of trans people don't feel the need to always engage in a full transition. I personally do.

[00:31:48] Making the Transition

Ana: That's who I've always felt that I am. And so, yeah, I just reached that realization and I was like, what do I do? And so I called my insurance and I was like, I don't know what I'm doing, but is there somewhere a transgender person can go? I thankfully I live in Seattle, so there's a lot of resources.

And they were like, well, let's get you into our, our gender health program. And I was like, okay, cool. And every time I talked to them, they're like, is there a different name that you want to go by? And I'm like, I don't know. This is so new, and then you might've seen it, but I came out on Facebook.

I was just like my pronouns are she her. I'm a transgender woman. That's all I really know. Thanks.

Kimber: How long ago was that?

Ana: Oh, it must've been around this time last year. But yeah, 29. And then I went and saw my doctor, my new doctor, who was like, okay, well, let's do this for you because I have people coming to me at the ages of like 50 and saying I'm transgender.

And I finally get to say, it's final. I finally felt, like I had said out loud, the last. Step, which is weird. Cause it's probably not the last step. There'll be more, I'll have more things that I need to express. I'm sure. But in this moment, that was, that was my last step.

I was like, I'm a woman I always have been. And that's something that's important. I think for some people to understand, is that trans people have always been trans people. They just didn't always have the freedom to say it. And I shouldn't just say blanket trans, they might just be gender variant of some sort, because that's the widely accepted term nowadays is gender variant.

You don't fit. I have to explain to my parents that I've always been a woman. They didn't know it. I didn't know it, but , it's true. I've always been a woman. So thankfully I've had such an easy process because people came before me. And. Paved the way, . And I live in a state that is very very open to supporting transition and very simple yet sometimes costly process.

 

[00:33:53]

Ana: So I started HRT almost right away. So hormone replacement therapy. So I've now become an estrogen dominant human, rather than the testosterone dominant human that I was before. . And that's where I'm at medically and biologically speaking. So I'm in the process still because HRT is usually like a two year to complete process or to go as far as you're going to go, but you'll stay on it because if you don't, you'll sort of detransition and then I, I quickly was like, I need to change my name.

. I need my name to reflect me. And so I did, and it wasn't that hard, thankfully again, things are pretty easy in this state. It costs money. It was like $215 for the whole process. But I went in and I was like, this is my name now. And they were like work and I changed my name.

And so then I put up another Facebook post I'm like, this is my name y'all. Either call me that or don't talk to me. And then I started going by my new name at work. I'm at a truck stop, which is a primarily white and CIS and Christian place.

Kimber: Probably male too, right?

Ana: Yes, male. Certainly certainly male. Primarily.

Yes. And there was so much pushback. All these regular customers are like, you're always be, he, him to me. I was like, that is so disrespectful. And I went off on customers and I will say to my bosses credit that she changed my name on the schedule. She called me by my new name. Stepped in with arguments with customers and defended me.

Was she the greatest boss? No, but in those moments, in those moments, she had my back and that meant a lot because quite frankly, like looking back at pictures of myself at that time in my life, I'm like, she looked rough. But yeah, and it was wild and there were so many supportive people. There were people who were just like, oh, She /her. Ana.

Cool. Got it

Kimber: Did it feel like this act of bravery every single time you had to have this conversation with someone?

Ana: No, it didn't. Which is crazy in the moment. I did not feel brave. I just felt anxious and like, okay. I have to stand up for myself now because it's just never going to change if I don't say anything. And so I did, I stood up for myself a lot. And at the time, it just felt like what I had to do.

Kimber: I don't even like correcting people when they call me Kim. Cause I don't like being called Kim I'm Kimber, it bothers me so bad, but I'm oftentimes too nervous or like, oh, I don't want them to think I'm rude if I correct them. That's hard for me

maybe if someone referred to me as a man, I think I would probably be like actually I have a few times online when people are like, okay, sir. I'm like, actually I'm a woman. So that's interesting.

Ana: Yeah. Well, and that's the thing, right? Like I had one really old white dude be like well, it doesn't matter. And I'm like, oh, but it does. Cause that's where I am. and he was like, no, it just doesn't matter. And I'm like, if it didn't matter, why are you making such a big deal out of it? And instead of just saying, okay, Like you don't have to do anything special.

You just have to say she/her instead of he/him, which you were saying before, but it does matter to you you're making that your stand and yes, it matters to me or I wouldn't have said anything. Now I'm like, oh my gosh, what level of abuse and bullshit did I deal with? And I was being brave.

But at the time it didn't feel brave. It just felt like a day. Just surviving, just doing what I needed to do to get a paycheck. But now I'm like, that's horrible that I had to go through that. Cause I have a very affirming job now. And the nice thing about this new job is nobody knows me as my dead name and that's my new thing.

Right? That's dead names that people aren't familiar with, if somebody has changed their name or even if they haven't and they've expressed to you that you need to call them a different name just do it. Don't dead name them. That's incredibly traumatic, I didn't know how traumatic until it happened to me.

Until people were calling me, he, him and my old name. I didn't know how traumatic that was until it happened to me. And I was like, oh, so, so I'm not real to you. Cause that's what it is. Right. You have now said that who I've told you, I am. Isn't real. It is not real. And again, and it just goes back to like spending 29 years identifying as a man.

[00:38:35] Identity as a statement, not a question

Ana: And because somebody told me when I was born, that's who I was. And I have to prove it. Why do I have to prove who I am? That's wild. Why don't you just listen to me and hear me and say, oh, okay, cool. I think trans people have this thing, and this is no shade to anyone, but I feel like with gay people, you're like, oh yeah, I am attracted to men as a man.

And that's that. But how do you prove to somebody who thinks you have a mental illness? This is who you are, it's who you always felt you are. And like people, especially LDS people for them. Gender is an internal concept. Well guess what my eternal concept is that I'm female and it doesn't make sense to you.

And I get that. but, this is who I am and I don't know how to prove it to anyone. Right. Like how do you go about proving that? You can't. So generally when I encounter people to whom I would have to prove my femaleness. I'm like, oh wait, no, I don't have the energy. It's this idea of this because we all experience imposter syndrome.

Imagine experiencing imposter syndrome with who you are, that's one thing that most people get and they're like, yeah, that's just why I'm as cool, but like no imposter syndrome with who you are because people don't believe it. So traumatic. I don't even care if you do believe it, as long as you respect me and my pronouns and my name, like that's cool.

That's good enough for me. Is it what I love it if you believed me. Yeah, but I shouldn't that my identity, isn't a question I'm asking you to answer. It's a statement I'm making.

Kimber: Oh, I love that. Can you say that one more time?

Ana: I started to come up with this concept in my head. Something that I can say to people when they mis-gendered me or deadnamed me.. And I just realized that my gender identity is not a question I'm asking you. It's not a question I'm asking for you to answer. It's a statement I'm making that you can either accept or not, but you cannot come to me and say those things to me, it's not acceptable for you to interact that way.

So that was something that I realized. And then something I had mentioned to you that I think I should say and it goes back to the whole idea of this podcast, being your bad self. Anybody who's seen Avengers end game will know this quote and I'm going to misquote it.

So don't like, That's where we're at. But Thor is talking to his mom and she's like, yeah, you are a failure. Cause he failed. Right? She's like, yeah, you are a failure. And he's like, whoa, mom, why did you do me like that? And she's like, we all fail at who we're supposed to be. Now you get to find out who you actually are.

And it's true. I spent 29 super long years failing at being a boy. Failing. Well, not 29 years failure being Mormon, but I failed at being Mormon for a pretty long time, too. Just failing at being who I'm supposed to be, who I was told I was gonna be, I failed. Super hard. And now I get to be pretty good at being who I actually am.

And that's, that's crazy. It's a wild concept. Cause you do, you spend so much time failing at being who you expect yourself to be or who others expected you to be. And then at some point you're like, but wait, that's not me. And at that point you have nothing left. So you let it all go.

And you start building yourself, the real you, the one that you've always been meant to be. The one who's been chilling until you figure that out. That's where I'm at. And it's cool. It's really fun. I'm not special. I'm not instantly happy all the time or anything. I'm still just content, , sometimes life freaking sucks.

I don't have that many friends all the time. Right. Like in that's hard, but that's part of being a 30 year old.

And that's okay. It's not because I left the Mormon church that I'm not happy all the time. Nobody's happy all the time. Nobody's good at everything. Nobody is an instant success and like, I'm not even necessarily succeeding, but I'm doing okay. And a lot of the time I actually am happy, cause I'm fully just myself.

And I'm not qualifying that I've stopped making my identity a question that I'm asking people to answer. I've already answered it for myself. And it's super, super fun because now I'm just on a discovery, I'm answering questions instead of letting people answer them for me, like I'm finding those answers.

And that's what life should be. We're just all asking questions about ourself that we're going to eventually answer because other people can't answer them. Like why would we ever want that?

[00:43:38] Takeaway

Kimber: Oh, my gosh. I love talking to you. You are so wise. My goodness. So I think this is a great note to end on. Is there anything. With such powerful takeaways, but is there anything else that you really want our listeners to take away from this

Ana: I think the only thing, the super important to me for anybody who will listen to this . Is that, when somebody tells you who they are, , especially when it relates to something you don't understand.

Just believe them, even if you don't really believe them yet, just believe them, accept it move on, say, okay, cool. Cause it doesn't hurt you. I, when a kid tells you, I'm not a boy, but he was born with a penis. Just, just believe him. I don't think it hurts you to believe that kid or,

The person who is born as a little girl and tells you I'm a man, I hate having boobs. I'm a dude. Just believe them. It can only be a positive thing. When you believe trans people and gender variant people, it's only a positive thing. It's never a negative thing.

What has the potential be negative is when you don't and it can hurt them, hurt them deeply. I think something that I I've learned as a transgender person is how deeply it hurts people don't believe you. And if I, if you, if anybody who's listening, learned anything from. It's how to treat a trans person or a gender variant person.

Because they're so maligned especially black and brown trans people. They're so maligned and so mistreated and they just deserve so much more because they're humans. Believe trans people and gender and people when they tell you who they are, because they're sharing something.

It's very deep for them. And to not believe them just seems morally bankrupt. It's. Okay. It doesn't hurt you. It just, it really doesn't. I think that's the bottom line, right? It's it doesn't hurt you to accept someone for who they tell you they are.

So I think that that would be my only hope is that anybody who knows nothing about trans people just learns. It's okay to say, okay, so you're this, you're that. Got it. Understood. Your pronouns are this, this and that understood. I can work with that and actually work with it.

You'd be amazed the relationships you can build when you just listen to people and believe everything they tell you and go in to things unassuming.

Kimber: Yeah. Yeah. And just love people.

Ana: Right.

Kimber: Yeah, I think when people don't just listen and accept, the only thing I can think is it must feel somehow threatening to their identity

Ana: Well, and that's what it is, right. If you've ever, I would suggest to anybody. Something that's far more eloquent than anything I've said. And far more like accessible is going to YouTube and looking up the man enough podcast with Justin Baldoni and their guest Aloke who is a non-binary person. It's like an hour long and it's just a great exploration of gender. And provides deeper understanding than anything I could provide on the idea of being gender variant at all.

And yeah, and it does it, he, or they again, sorry. They talk about how, how this idea of really does threaten. The identity that people CIS people, especially CIS men have created for themselves within this patriarchal system we live in. And how will we need to have the courage to love and liberate everyone?

All of us from this system that we currently exist in which does us all harm some less than others, but it does do us all harm including cis-gendered men shocking, but yes. And I would, I would advise just listening to that hour long podcast. Man enough with a Loke a L O K. It's, it's amazing.

And so. Expressed in a way that I could not. So.

Kimber: Ah, I love that. All right. Well, probably time to wrap this up, but thank you so much for sharing your story with everyone today.

I really appreciate it. And you had some really amazing takeaways that I had to write down for myself to remember, because I think it applies, especially that thing. You said, this is what I want to end with because I thought this was so amazing when you said my identity.

Isn't a question I'm asking you to answer. It's a statement I'm making. And I think that that applies to everyone. I want it framed on my wall for myself. It's so good. So good. All right. Well, thank you very much.

Ana: Yeah, you're welcome. Thank you.

[00:48:35] Outro

Kimber: Thanks for joining me today. If you want to interact with me and get more nurturing around living an authentic life, you can follow me on Instagram or Facebook at just be your bad self,

your invitation this week. Identify something about yourself that you are no longer willing to let other people define or determine for you. Maybe it's the way you dress. Maybe it's the way you're expected to behave in a certain role. Maybe it's your self worth or maybe like Ana it's a label that was assigned to you that no longer fits whatever it is.

I'd love to hear it. If you enjoyed this podcast and want to leave a review, subscribe to the podcast or share it, as always, you have my heart. That's it from me now. Just be your bad self.

Ana Mercado Profile Photo

Ana Mercado

Trans Woman

Ana is a Dominican American Trans Woman who was raised in the Mormon (LDS) Church. She now lives in Seattle where she feels free to " just be her bad self.