Two Mississippians share their stories on being transgender - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Two Mississippians share their stories on being transgender

Tony Boyette says he moved to south MS for a more open transgender community (Image Source: WLOX News) Tony Boyette says he moved to south MS for a more open transgender community (Image Source: WLOX News)
Molly Kester says she has known she was different since the age of six. (Image Source: WLOX News) Molly Kester says she has known she was different since the age of six. (Image Source: WLOX News)

Most people have no idea what it's like to live life not being comfortable with their own gender. The most frequently cited estimate is that approximately 700,000 Americans are transgender.

Molly Kester and Tony Boyette say they are just like everyone else, except for the fact they are living as the opposite sex from which they were born.

Transitioning from male to female or from female to male may seem really hard to understand, but for Boyette and Kester, it was the only way to live a truly happy life.

Kester is more than six feet tall and a former marine. She loves to shop, and her closet is quite impressive, but she wasn't always this happy.

“I've known I was different since I was like six,” said Kester.

It took her almost 50 years to understand exactly what she was feeling inside.

“Growing up, there wasn't Google, wasn't Internet to search anything. So, I thought I was the only one. So, burying that so deep, it took a while to get that to come back up again,” said Kester.

Kester said she suppressed those thoughts so deeply that she couldn't even cry, but after decades of soul searching, she realized Molly had to meet the world.

“I'm happy on the core, in the core. I mean, I approach everything with a better heart. I'm allowed to feel things now. I can enjoy things more,” said Kester.

Kester was once married and has children. She says they were supportive of her transition, but even three years later, there are things they still struggle with.

“They're still on the learning curve of it all and still have questions and still working through what to call me. I was their dad, so I told them to still call me dad,” said Kester.
               
In a recent interview with Diane Sawyer, Olympic gold medalist Bruce Jenner came out as transgender and emerged to the world as Caitlyn Jenner on the cover of Vanity Fair magazine.

Immediately, Jenner's transition began trending on social media, and almost instantly the world became inquisitive about what it means to be transgender. Boyette explains it like this.

“It's bad enough to be uncomfortable in your own home, but to be uncomfortable in your own skin, it's a feeling I can't put words to,” said Boyette.

Boyette was born a female, but has felt like a male since as far back as he can remember.

“I was enraged when I found out in kindergarten that my birth name was Elizabeth. I didn't know. Nobody had ever called me that, and I asked my mother why she named me a girl's name and she said because you are a girl and I said no I'm not,” said Boyette.

Boyette says he started calling himself Tony at the age of six and came out as gay at the age of 13, but it didn't go over too well with his family.

“In order to survive where I was, I felt like it was necessary for me to conform to what was expected of me, and I did want kids. So, I got married and had kids. I tried that for 15 years,” said Boyette.

Despite trying to live as a woman, wife and mother, Boyette said it became too much.

“You just get to a point in your life where the walls have closed in to the point you can't breathe, and you just know you have to do something different,” said Boyette.

Though he had always dressed like a tomboy and sported a short haircut, Boyette finally made the decision to start taking hormone replacement pills.

“The hairline starts to recede. The jaw starts to square off some and of course facial hair and all that,” said Boyette.

One of the reasons Boyette moved from North Mississippi to the Coast was for a more open LGBT community.

“I had hoped that I would find a better medical community for transition. That's been difficult even in one of the largest towns in Mississippi. That's been extremely difficult,” said Boyette.

Boyette says his children have taken his transition surprisingly well, but like Kester, he knows there have been some struggles.

“There's a grieving process that a family goes through when a person transitions because you're losing the person that you knew,” said Boyette.

Boyette and Kester are happy with the progress society has made toward understanding what transgender is, but they know people are still getting comfortable with the concept.

“We work. We raise children. We pay our bills just like everybody else does. We don't need to be fixed, we just need to be understood,” said Boyette.

“It's mostly just showing the same respect to that person, to the transgender person, as you would to any other stranger,” said Kester.

Both Boyette and Kester are advocates in local LGBT community organizations. They say Mississippi does not have nondiscrimination laws covering sexual orientation or gender identity, which is something they hope will come about in the future.

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