Once the king of holding myself back, now I help trauma survivors and transgender families grow into their true selves.
Today my mission is to make things easier for the next generation than they were for me. I work with parents of transgender kids to help them learn how to support their kids and trauma survivors to help them put the pieces of their lives back together and to let go of fear of visibility to advocate for themselves and others. I also write fiction to empower girls and women to overcome trauma and close the gap between who they are and who they most want to be.
But it wasn’t always that way…
I’m Transgender and Autistic… but that’s not how I was raised. As a kid, I didn’t know there were words for what I was. I felt like a boy but the adults were telling me I was a girl so I figured they must be right. As a child, I was known as a sweet girl who also sometimes had scary temper tantrums. As I grew older, it got worse. By 4th grade I had very few friends because boys didn’t want to play with a “girl” and girls made fun of me for being too much like a boy. Plus I didn’t understand social rules all that well and was always being told to mind my own business when I tried to enter a conversation.
Fast forward a few years and I was a depressed, miserable teenager who didn’t have any friends and was afraid to talk to people. A few years after that, I went to college… and met my first abusive boyfriend online, a man older than my parents who was not earning a living and who made it his business to insist I move across the country to be with him so he could continue to tear me down in person every single day. (One gem that stands out is when a college professor that taught creative writing encouraged me to write children’s books and he told me “she’s lying to you. If she was being honest she would tell you your writing sucks and kids will never want to read it.”) Eventually I moved out, went to get my MFA… and through my faculty advisor met his stepdaughter who was on drugs and her semi-boyfriend/ex who was her drug buddy and became my second boyfriend after a lot of chaos and craziness.
To make a long story short, when I was 28 I realized I was almost 30 and had little to show for it. I decided to move to North Carolina to study teaching and almost didn’t make it out alive because my boyfriend was drunk and violent the whole last two months before I left. Two days after I moved away, he died of a drug overdose (well, technically he died of a heart attack caused by smoking way too much crack).
But this story does have a happy ending, because while in NC I began exploring my gender identity and I also got my Autism diagnosis, which was a ridiculously long process involving a referral from my GP to a psychiatrist who referred me to an Autism specialist who promptly put me on a waiting list for an entire year. And that’s when things started to fall into place.
WHAT I DO
Today, I am a visibility coach and author who helps people understand why they hold themselves back and how to work through their fears so that they can stand out and stand up for their values.
I write novels for young adults (and not so young adults) about women who overcome traumatic experiences and recreate a more authentic life.
The Triumph over Tragedy series (including Reinventing Hannah) involves teenagers overcoming tough circumstances and discovering who they are along the way.
Contemporary women’s fiction novels like Heart Failure involve women making tough decisions as they become aware of who they really are as they approach their 30s.