Monika: Today’s interview will be with Erica Elizabeth Ravenwood, a video blogger that documents her transition on YouTube. Hello Erica!
I went in the Army in 1986, mostly in an attempt to try to please my Dad but also to further my denial. An Army scout for the 101st Airborne was my first job and I went to many different training schools. Did a tour in the Sinai, which was wonderful and where I learned to scuba dive and climbed Mt. Sinai on several occasions. And served in the Gulf War until I was discharged for mental exhaustion in 1991.
|Erica and her Mom.|
She said “Great! What kind of chat room did you find?” as she was typing away, looking at her computer. “A Transgender one.” I replied. She froze and stiffened, turning in her chair. Her eyes boring through me. “Are you transgender?” she asked. “Yes.” was my answer “And WHY did you never tell me this?” She’s still mad at me to this day but I was off and running at that point. That was the beginning of August 2013.
It was the constant worry and self-conscious feeling of “Do I pass.” I will NEVER do that again. It’s OK to be transgender. I’m proud that I’m transgender. And if forever through my life I’m known as transgender that’s fine by me.
Because my estrogens levels were fairly high naturally I didn’t really have any issues when I started. I theorize that is because my body was probably already used to it, it didn’t care about that extra we were putting into it.
|In her prom.|
They were both very sweet, kind and gentle people and never said a word when I would follow behind them in the kitchen wearing my Mom’s shoes or going to my sister’s room to play with their toys. It was a very natural thing for any little girl to do and I did it without thought or care because neither of them did anything to make it feel wrong.
My bother, who is ten years older than me and we shared a room, was always afraid that I would brake his stuff when in fact I had no interest in his stuff.
There was a point though, just before I turned five and just before I started school that I remember my Dad being angry with my Mom for letting me be me. It was a sad turning point in my life. It was the first time I had been told, even if it wasn’t said directly to me, that who I was, was wrong.
The first couple years I was just ostracized. After that I started getting beaten up and that continued on an almost daily basis until my parents put me in a very strict Christian school when I was in 6th grade. I had never told my Mom about being beaten up and I was always afraid to talk to my Dad.
The Christian school was a fire and brimstone Baptist school and while I was no longer beaten up I was again ostracized and told I was going to hell regularly. I tried so hard to hide who I was but I must not have done a very good job or maybe I just gave off a vibe.
I was often called gay but they didn’t use that nice of a word. I also grew up being called Erica as a slur, which I would later embrace as my true name. I stayed in that school for three years but did everything I could to get kicked out by just refusing to do anything as far as schoolwork. It didn’t work but after much pleading my parents finally put me in a different Christian school.
My Dad took me to Sears calling me “squirly burly” the entire time, up to that point that was probably the most he had ever spoken to me, and he bought me a weight set. That summer, between eighth and ninth grade, I used that weight bench and grew six inches. By the time I got to the new school, which was an extremely small private school that only went to ninth grade, I was the biggest, tallest kid in school for the first time in my life and that protected me that year. I was six feet tall at fifteen.
I talked my parents into letting me go to the regular high school the following year having had a year where I had felt good about myself for the first time since I had left the safety of my Mom’s kitchen when I was so little. My parents were very worried and didn’t want me too but gave in. It turned out they were right that it was a bad idea.
|A falling star?|
When I came to I climbed the fence and left and never went back. It was the first year they had put a computer in charge of attendance and some kid kept hacking it and clearing all the records. No one had any idea I wasn’t going to school. Instead I would go to the library or hike Malibu Canyon, always taking my copy of the Hobbit with me.
At the very end of that year someone came to my parents house. They figured out I hadn’t been there finally but by then the year was close enough to over they didn’t make me go back. My Mom and Dad got divorced that year and I went to live with my Dad so I would be in a different district. I moved in with the man who had never spoken to me. It was very quite.
No one said boo to me at the new high school but by that time I was so paranoid and traumatized it didn’t matter. I couldn’t do it and I left that school after a week as well. They put me in a continuation school that was supposed to be for the “bad” kids but turned out we were just all stoners.
I didn’t do anything school wise the remainder of the time in school, and it was never expected of any of us by the “teachers” but it was a very needed social experience for me. I made a small group of very close core friends and it seemed our mission in life was to stay as stoned as possible. It was during this period that I met my future wife.
When I got my own true first place I was able to dress “openly” even if it was just in my house with every window covered for safety. It was during that period I also found my sexuality and had my first and so far only boyfriend. So that’s when I came out as gay. (Though identifying as female I consider myself straight. But that’s a whole perception conversation for another time.)
|In pink and green.|
Well, that’s what it took. I now knew both my sexuality AND my gender identity (or at very least could put a name to it). At the end of 2006 is when I jumped in the truck and drove to California.
It may sound bad but I don’t watch the news and most of what I learn politically I hear from a very good friend of mine who stays on top of everything. I don’t have to watch because she keeps me up to date on so many things as well as other people who send me things they think are important or may be of interest.
I would say I like a Boho style. Long, loose, flowy and comfortable but also very much a jeans and a top kind of girl. At 6’1” heel-s is a four letter word to me and I prefer to wear flats. If style and comfort come in conflict comfort will always win out.
Monika: Are you involved in the life of your local LGBT community?
But I stress the word “good”. If your scared I believe you really need to get a handle on that before going out into the big bad world if you hope to have any confidence in doing so. Also know that living with GID often creates additional issues beyond gender identity that should be discussed with your therapist.
|Many faces of Erica.|
That usually means people I know and is innocent enough but very annoying and at times embarrassing. That’s why the videos have been so good for me as a hobby. I learn new things all the time and can have several different programs working at once.