Dre Winston

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Throughout my life I always struggled. I felt like something was off and different. I can’t say that I felt like something was wrong but there was something different. I went through several different suicide attempts and in-patient hospital stays. Then one day after months and months of research I found out I could transition from female to male. My journey began with several therapist and a psychiatrist telling me I wasn’t transgender, I couldn’t be a man, I would never be a real man, and telling me if I didn’t learn how to be a man. I was very down at this point and started to feel like there was no hope. I considered trying one more time with a therapist. This therapist was very nice and friendly. She listened to me and let me explore everything I was feeling. After seeing her for several weeks, I cut my hair and started to live as a guy. When I started I had to live as a guy for several months before I got my hormones. After several months went by I found a couple of supports groups and got my letter. She wrote my letter and I was off to get my hormones. It was no easy task due to pre-existing health conditions but I was finally cleared. I took my first shot of testosterone on April 3, 2007. I was in heaven.
Hormones were expensive. I went through periods where I could not afford them and I would save up to get them after not being on them for months. I was out of school and wanted to do something with my life that wasn’t college. I made the decision to attend Job Corp. Job Corp is gender specific and I had to dwell in the female dorms. The first day was nerve wrecking. There were girls from each dorm to help the new people and when I raised my hand to go to the female dorms I got the dirtiest looks. During role call the looks were even dirtier and the girls were rude. I confided in the dorm staff and they reassured me that if I needed anything they would help me. Some of the other staff on campus were not the nicest but the other staff made up for it. I spent two years at Job Corp and by the end I had made friends for life and was respected throughout the campus by staff and students. It was rare someone would make a rude or nasty or dirty comment. Although the times were tough when I was through I made it through. For the entire two years I was there I was still on my hormones. I appreciated that they allowed me to continue on my hormones and it was never in question of whether I could or couldn’t continue taking them.
After Job Corp I went back home and changed my name legally. In a few months my name was changed legally and I then I moved from Maryland/DC area to North Carolina. I spent my time in NC working and struggling. After that I had the opportunity to move to Prescott, AZ. Prescott was a huge culture shock for me. I was stopped in the streets and given dirty looks. I remember a woman stopped the conversation that she was having on the phone to come over and shake my hand and say “It is so nice to see some color in this town”. I was completely blown away. I didn’t even know what to say. I was dumbfounded. I just stood there with my hand still out frozen in place. That happened the first year I was in Arizona. I went through several surgeries while I was in Arizona. I had surgery on my foot and when I was there one of the doctors working with my Cardiologist was extremely rude. She came into my pre-op room with this rude attitude and a medical student snapping at me saying “Is there something you need to tell me? You need to tell me everything about you and your medical history. Go pee in a cup, so we can make sure you are not pregnant. You need to tell each and every doctor that you are a female”. At this point I was pissed and refused to pee in the cup. It didn’t matter that I had already done that. I told her to leave and I wanted to speak with her supervisor. When he came in I he apologized and explained it was procedure due to my medical history. He apologized several times for her behavior and said he would talk to her about how she handled everything. I didn’t even follow up with the hospital because I was too pissed off. This was a hospital in Phoenix. I had some issues with several nurses in at YRMC in Prescott that called me an “it” but the person I was with walked out of my ER room and set them straight. I never heard them talk about me again. YRMC also agreed to put a “U” on my wristband that allowed me to tell doctors at my discretion. I appreciated that a lot.
I have worked at several jobs but only came out to two of them. At my one of my previous jobs, they were a place that supported LGBTQ youth as well as employees and even wanted me to work with them in building their group back up. I only tell people when I believe that it would be safe and beneficial. I believe that most of my support in the past has not come from my black community. I have found support now in the black community but I have always felt some sort of disconnect. Once I came into my own and found my new level of confidence, I realized I am who I am because of where I have come from. That confidence paved the way for me to be in relationships. When I made the decision to transition I felt I needed to come to terms that there was a possibility I would spend my life alone and not ever get married or have kids. I went through several toxic and damaging relationships I knew were not good for me and I was just settling. One ex even told me to go kill myself but I finally found a woman who accepts and loves me for me. I am finishing school and will end up with two Associate degrees. My current job with the state of Arizona utilizes me as their LGBTQ advocate and liaison. My goal is to continue to work with the LGBTQ community especially youth and families in Northern Arizona. I hold a board member position on the new non-profit called Greater Yavapai County Coalition (GYCC) that is building up the LGBTQ community in the area. I also work with Northern Arizona Gender Mentor Network (NAZGEM) and run the Yavapai Families in Transition Group(YCFIT) with my wife. Each day I struggle but each day I come out stronger. Life is not a piece of cake for me on many levels but I am glad to be me.