By Melody Vallieu
He was born into a female’s body, but never felt at home.
He always felt different, but never quite understood why.
Today, following his transition from female to male, Draco Alexander Evilsizor understands with complete clarity — she was meant to be a he.
Draco, during a candid interview on Wednesday, said the signs of his gender identity issues were probably very real in his youth, he just didn’t understand them then.
Draco said he was always a tomboy growing up, palling around with his dad, going fishing, and tinkering with cars.
“Looking back, my father always treated me more like my brothers than he ever did my sister,” he said. “Growing up, I had the GI Joes, the Evil Knievel with the motorcycle and all that stuff. I tended to gravitate more toward traditional boy toys, but I never really thought about it.”
Draco said for his parent’s 25th wedding anniversary, at age 9, he remembers being dressed in an ugly, uncomfortable, royal blue polyester dress for the occasion. His cousin’s husband told him he looked pretty.
“And I said, ‘Yeah, but I’m actually a boy,” he said. “My mother brought that up later on. But I didn’t remember it until that time. Now I remember it clearly.”
Draco said while still identifying as a woman, he realized he was gay at about the age of 20 and shared with family and friends. But even then, Draco said, he did not feel complete, like he was still missing something.
“Using the reference ‘woman’ in terms of myself, it was so distasteful for me to use any kind of female reference to myself, but it just didn’t click,” Draco said.
Draco, almost 50, didn’t fully understand his need to transition until four years ago.
“I’d had a couple of transgender friends since 2000. So it’s not like I didn’t know what it was. But, it just never clicked with me,” Draco said. “I was talking to a friend on the phone … I was going through a really bad time, I was really depressed and everything, and we were talking and all of a sudden, she made a comment about gender not being the issue. It was like I just had this epiphany about why I had been unhappy all of my life. It was like this person had been standing on me and they just stepped away. You could almost feel the puzzle just snapping together. I understood why I wasn’t happy.”
Draco said it was then he understood what his future would entail.
“You try to be what you see, and what society tells you you are, but there’s that underlying feeling that something is not right and it’s not until the right time — when it’s time for you to know — that everything falls into place,” he said “That was four years ago.”
Draco said for a long time, he had a hard time realizing — like many others — there was a difference between gender and sexual orientation.
“So, as my incorrect gender being female, I was gay. But now that I identify as male, I am considered heterosexual, because my attraction is still for women,” he said.
With the realization, Draco said he started telling family and friends almost immediately.
“I started telling all of my friends, and they were like, ‘So what changes?’” said Draco, who grew up in Urbana and moved to Troy about 10 years ago. “They said ‘We still like the same things.’ So, to them it wasn’t that big of a deal.”
Draco said he and his family members now have an understanding — they can accept him and be in his life — or don’t and don’t.
“I’m at the age where I can make that decision. Our younger generation, our kids, they can’t do that, they are kind of trapped,” Draco said. “But, it actually went much smoother than when they found out I was gay. My sister-in-law was like ‘You’re going to be one of those sensitive men that women love,’” he said.
Draco said while his sister still doesn’t understand his transition, she supports him. He said he was was most worried about his very conservative older brother, then dying of terminal cancer, who passed just six weeks later.
“He said ‘I’m just sorry I’m not going to be here to see the end result,’” Draco said with a smile.
According to Draco, most everyone at his employer, Hobart Corp. of Troy, also has been supportive, and gender identity is addressed in the company’s corporate nondiscrimination policy.
“One of my former managers said ‘Well, you never had that many feminine qualities to begin with,’” he said, laughing.
The transition process
Once you identify as transgender, it doesn’t end there, Draco said. Rather, it just begins.
Draco said counseling is a big part of the transition process, and after four years, he still sees his therapist regularly.
He said some transgender people just identify as the opposite sex, some just have hormone therapy, some just have surgery and some have both.
FTM — female to male — surgeries also go by “top” and “bottom”surgeries. Draco said he had his first surgery, his “top,” in July 2014, which cost about $8,000 out-of-pocket.
“Originally, the gender dysphoria was really bad,” he said. “But once I started becoming comfortable with who I was, then my idea of what I needed to do to be happy changed.”
He said he has not yet decided on whether to have his “bottom” surgery, as he does not believe the procedures are what they could — and should — be.
“For me the cons outweigh the pros at this time,” he said. “Your transition is very individual. It’s as individual as we are.”
The issue at hand
Draco said he finds the transgender student at the junior high, now identifying as a male, to be courageous and he hopes that people can begin to understand and rally around the child.
“That’s a big step. I am very proud of them. I know how hard it is to be so very different from society. It’s not going to be easy,” he said. “I’m kind of at a disadvantage because I haven’t had the problems transitioning, everybody went with it. I haven’t run into anyone who has given me a hard time or treated me badly because of it. Everyone has been supportive from my family, to my work, to the people I have met on the street. I haven’t had all the negative experience that you hear about it.”
Draco offers advice to the young child starting his journey.
“The one thing the child needs to remember is that the people who truly love you and the ones that truly accept you are the ones you need to keep in your life. If you have friends who just can’t get on board with who you are, then let them go,” Draco said. “It’s so hard to be happy. The hardest thing you will ever do is accept and love yourself for who you are, but once you can do that, regardless of what anyone else says, you are already ahead of the game.”
Draco said he envies the younger transgender generation.
“I envy a lot of the younger transgender people now because they have so much more of their life ahead of them to be who they are,” he said. “But, I also think that my time came later when I was more ready to deal with it. I don’t know if I could have handled everything prior to the time it happened.”
But, Draco warns, depression is a big issue in the transgender community and the suicide rate among transgenders is 40 percent because of the obstacles they face when they become public with their decision. Draco recommends — and continues to attend — a support group.
“I remember what it was like looking in the mirror and loathing who I was every day of my life. And hating the person I saw there because you think you are looking at something you don’t think you can change,” Draco said. “And it’s miserable. People don’t understand the internal pain we feel when there’s something we feel hopeless about.”
To those in the community who have not found themselves tolerant of the transgender community, he said there is hope. Being educated, he said, would help those who have issues with the situation.
“I find it sad because it is more important to them that someone be unhappy to fit what they want, rather than just letting it go and letting someone be who they are,” Draco said. “It’s purely an education thing.”
Fear plays a big role in people’s lack of understanding, he said.
“People don’t understand. And you fear what you don’t understand. And the only way to be able to get people to where they understand it, to where they aren’t afraid of it, is to talk about it and let people ask questions,” Draco said. “For me to not be willing to not talk about it, to keep it hushed, I look at it as people looking at me and saying ‘You’re ashamed of something.’ And it’s just simply a part of who I am, it’s not that big of deal to me really.”
Draco said in the end, we all want the same thing.
“It’s like everybody else. All you want to do is love and be loved,” he said. “I think that is all any of us want.”
Reach Melody Vallieu at firstname.lastname@example.org, call (937) 552-2131 or on Twitter at @TroyDailyNews