My book, An Unspoken Compromise, is a memoir about my journey as a transgender man and the transitions I have undergone both physically and emotionally throughout my life. In it I detail what it was like to grow up as a girl when I knew in my heart I was a boy and how I revealed my true identity to family and friends. Along the way there was a lot of painful rejection, a lot of soul searching and asking God why I had to go through this. But there were also hope and love and acceptance eventually, even if it sometimes took years.
Why would I ever want to write such a book? These experiences were sometimes excruciating for me. For much of my young life, I doubted myself and everyone and everything around me. I was depressed and angry, and I felt I could never fit into this world where everyone else seemed to know exactly who they were-and what gender they were supposed to be. I felt like an outcast, a pariah, even a demon at times. The fact that my mother's church group regularly tried to exorcise me didn't help.
So why did I want to recount all of this, to put it down on paper and share it with the world? For one simple fact that took me so long to understand: I am not alone in this fight. Back when I was a child, surely there were other transgender individuals, but no one ever spoke of them, and they certainly did not tell their own stories. I thought I was the only one until I was eight, when two friends told me they had seen a man on The Sally Jessy Raphael Show who had undergone a gender-reassignment operation and become a woman. That was the first inkling I had that I was not alone, and I am hoping my book can offer that sort of "aha!" moment for others going through the same thing.
Of course, these days information flows more freely than it did back then. Now we have the Internet and social media,which give us the ability to see and learn about people from diverse cultures and religious backgrounds, people of ethnicities that are different from our own, and people of many sexual orientations and gender identities. With this massive, unprecedented exposure has come a new sort of understanding of people who fall into minority classes and the struggles they face every day. This in turn has, I believe, led to some historical occasions such as the US Supreme Court's overturning the Defense of Marriage Act and many states' legalizing same-sex marriage, as did sixteen countries around the world in 2013.
Still, we have a long way to go. Same-sex marriage is in the spotlight right now, and that's fantastic; it's been a long time coming. But it does not paint the entire picture. Back there in the shadows, we transgender individuals are quietly (and sometimes not so quietly) waiting for the day when our situations will be deemed socially acceptable enough to discuss in polite conversation. When we are shown in the media, most of the time it's as a source of ridicule or scorn, or in news reports that another one of us has been beaten or killed for who we are. Yes, Laverne Cox is wonderful on Orange Is the New Black, but why do people always have to refer to her as a transgender actor? Can't she simply be a great actor on a hit TV show?
Until the public at large can look at a transgender individual and see that he or she is just that-a he or a she, not some confused mix between the two, this fight will continue: for our rights, for our identities, for our very lives. In An Unspoken Compromise, I tell my story as just one foot soldier in this war so others can see how far we've come and that together we can move on to a bright future.
Bio: Rizi Xavier Timane is a certified grief recovery specialist and life coach with master's degrees in management and social work and a PhD in Christian counseling. Rizi is a commissioned minister and founder of Rizi Timane Ministries (rizigospel.org). He writes for the Southern Poverty Law Center's Teaching Tolerance and other magazines and has released an inspirational/gospel album titled Come Out. His book is available on amazon or his website http://www.rizixaviertimane.com