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Allison Vail’s Story

Coming out is scary. Coming out is hard and you don’t know how everyone will react. Depending on the nature of how you came out it can shift the way people will view you. Sometimes people who you thought would love you reject you. Sometimes people surprise you and they love you unconditionally.

I am lucky to have had almost everyone in my life be supportive.

This is my story. Maybe you can take something away from it.

I think the feelings were almost always there. But I was young and also on the autism spectrum so I didn’t care about what “being a boy” meant. I just did as my parents told and also lied. A lot. Like a lot. I lied so much, all the time, for years of my life. I still do sometimes, though mostly to embellish a story and give it a comedic twist. Nothing big. Not anymore. People bullied me because I was different. My parents did their best. I went to private schools because they cared. I went to a nice little academy for 9th grade because they cared. And eventually I went to a Charter school because they cared.

It's hard to see that when you’re a teen though. The only thing you see is how your parents tie you down because you’re a furious wrecking ball that doesn’t know it’s a wrecking ball and your parents are just trying to get by by putting up glass fences in a hope you won’t break them.

When I was 15, The feelings started growing intense. I didn’t have a name for them but I knew they existed. I wanted to be a girl. I didn’t know why. That was taboo. It’s a farce. I can’t be a girl. That’s not a thing boys can be. I started looking through psychology books and researching stuff at the library to figure out what was going on. Eventually I found a site online that called it “Gender Identity disorder”

For a second, I felt a wave of relief. I wasn’t alone. But disorder. That was a problem with the brain. There was a problem with me. I needed to fix it.

I like to tell people that I prayed like a good little church boy and God said to focus on me.

I didn’t. I did nothing. I kept going to church and all the time I just had this inside me. I started reading books about the subject of transforming. I looked up things online that could change my body. Lack of money and resources and not a very established community for teens like me didn’t exactly help.

I wrote a story where the main character gets shapeshifting powers and he then turns into his crush first. A girl. I think it was a sort of wish fulfillment but I honestly don’t remember. Eventually I tried to box up the emotions, treat them differently. They were not me. They were a demon. I called her Chintrista because it’s an anagram for Anti-Christ. I’m overdramatic. I know. I like me that way.

She developed a personality of her own and I threw every single bad and horrible emotion I had at her and then made a small cage out of legos and tried to seal her away.

It didn’t work. Later she materialized as what I liked to call a “Multiple personality disorder.”

This damaged a lot of my friendships and relationships and I pretended I was her.

My brain was in two sides and the more I believed it, the more power it had. At one point I pretended that I had lost and she had won and she was the dominant me.

My parents had taken notice of my mental health. A best friend of mine came out to me as gay and I rejected her. I think it might have been me accepting that I wasn’t this thing. I don’t remember the exact reason.

My parents sent me to an inpatient hospital. I was there for a week. I cared more about the other residents in the hospital and didn’t focus on myself or what was going on in me. I was a good actor. I pretended I was fine. I wasn’t fine.

I remember that I was in a period of ultimate faith though. That regardless of what happened I’d be okay.

That feeling lasted about a month.

After that I figured, obviously what I had to do was suppress everything and I’d be fine.

Fun fact: it sucks!

For the entire rest of my life I held it in and tried to live my best life. It didn’t work. I was depressed, I was anxious, I was miserable for years. Eventually people I went to high school with started coming out.

Three trans friends by my account. There might be more. It felt like that high school was a haven for sad repressed Gays sometimes. I don’t know if it’s still the case. I started hanging out with one. She was a lovely individual who I developed a crush on. It went nowhere but hanging out was fun. I felt good around the person. Like I was home. And then about a year ago. The thoughts started coming back. She felt happier being who she was. All my other friends were too. Eventually things inside me started to stir and they manifested themselves in the same way I had forced them away.

I felt a monster was following me. Something massive and dangerous. I asked a friend about how to protect from evil spirits and ghosts. I bought some rose quartz and then later when I was sitting in my car I took a deep breath and let it out. And I asked it what it was. The feeling of a monster immediately disappeared and it took the form of a girl. I was not high. I was not under the influence. I was not with demons or anything. The emotion simply said “I’m you.”

And that was it. And I felt that it was correct. So I got out of my car and went inside.

I hadn’t been going to church for a few months. And around this time My father became the bishop of a singles ward. To help my mom not feel lonely, I told her I’d come sit with her. Social anxiety prevented me from going to anything past the first hour. Around this time I joined an Asexual discord group, Because I had known for a good while that I was asexual and experienced no sexual drive for anything whatsoever. After a while I started to experiment with pronouns and a name that I had gone by in video games for a while.

“Call me alice.” Everyone did. Immediately. It was amazing. It was like I had opened a puzzlebox and a fourth of the puzzle box had just solved itself while I dumped it all out.

I had leaned on the “Gender wall” that my young self constructed but it turned out it was made of paper and I fell right through and tumbled down into a ditch of gender identity stuff.

At this point, I knew that I was definitely not cisgender. Which started opening up some other doors as well.

But of course, You can never really feel 100% sure of yourself when it comes to this. Anxiety constantly yelling that you’re making the wrong church. What will my family think? Oh heavens I might lose my entire family. Oh heavens, I could lose friends. A very close friend of mine noticed this intense anxiety one day and decided that they were going to help me go through whatever it was at that time. A line from my patriarchal blessing was impressed upon my mind so I spoke up.

I knew that I wasn’t cis. I thought I was genderfluid. But I wasn’t sure if that could work with the church. I was distressed, I was upset. I was lost. This friend listened and talked to me and asked the right questions. Eventually they said, “Why can’t you be both?”

I was sure I couldn’t and quoted a scripture about being of two minds. They shrugged and said that people have done it with being gay and that was that.

Around that time a video game came out called “Celeste”

In this game, A girl climbs a mountain through a series of platforming challenges. I had seen gifs on twitter and bought it. Once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down.

Spoilers for Celeste will follow. The game followed a girl who wanted to climb a mountain. She wanted to because she felt she had to. At some point in the game a Part of You gets separated from her because the mountain is magic and has cool powers. When you first meet Part of You, she tries to convince you to stop this climb, there’s no reason to do this because we can’t do this. You can’t climb this mountain. You’re no Mountain Climber. And at that point, the player character says “Who says I can’t be?” I remember those words sticking in my mind. “Who says you can’t be trans and also a member of the church?” “Who says I can’t be?” “Who says I can’t be.”

It was a statement of power, of resolve. The game eventually has the main character saying that she needs to let this part of her go, she can be set free! She’s free from this! But it doesn't work. Part of You drags you down the mountain and says that you can’t do this. You think you can get rid of me? It doesn’t work that way. And so you’re down at the bottom. A strange old lady says you should just give up, and you think you’re over it, You’re just going to go back to feeling sad. But the lady sees right through you. You aren’t over this. You never have been. You don’t want to give up, but you’ve fallen so far. How could you ever possibly come back? But no matter how hard you try this part of you sabotages you at every step. Causing you to be depressed, Sad, and upset. Like I was. “What makes me so special” you say after the lady says she thought you were going to do it.

“You’re so upset with yourself. You could have overcome yourself. But here you are. The girl is holding you back. You should talk to her. Figure out why she’s scared. Learn what’s going on in yourself." I'm paraphrasing to make it closer to me of course.

You never thought to actually start thinking about this part of you. You thought you just had to live with it forever. You thought that was it. That you just held this in you like everyone else. But hey, what do you have to lose? So you go down a huge intimidating chamber, chasing after the anxiety, the emotions, this part of you that you’ve been so scared of your entire life. You meet up and you apologize. But it’s not that easy. But she doesn’t trust you? Why should she? You tried to get rid of her, shove her down, treat her like you didn’t need her, locked her away inside of you because you were ashamed of what it was. That you couldn’t be yourself and be this.

You fight her and continue reaching out but she lashes out. She flings lasers and spikes and you do your best to try and keep reaching out because you know what you have to do. But she feels she did you a favor. You’re not a mountain climber. You should have just listened to me! You chase her down. You win. You’ve got her. She’s discouraged. She says she’ll try and go away forever.

But no. Why would you want that? Why would you want to toss it aside once you’ve learned it. You need her. You need her help to get up this mountain because you can’t do it alone. I won’t spoil the rest. But the game is very good. And it’s message meant a lot to me. It felt like this game was made for me. It was exactly what I needed. I was both sides of this coin. My other side was willing to reach out to me because something needed to change. My inner self tried to tell itself that I didn’t need it. I could make it on my own.

But you can’t. You can’t live a lie. It eats at you, it poisons you and your relationships. And so I started talking to myself. I started figuring out what was going on. I started questioning everything I was and why. Anxiety attack? Why is this happening, what thought processes are happening to cause this? Have we eaten? Do we need to talk to someone? I worked on this for about two months. I started asking around to the trans people I knew. How did you figure it out, what resources did you use. I got so many supportive answers. And I thought on them. I pondered on them. And then eventually I prayed on them.

It was a stake conference meeting in April after general conference. I was conflicted. I was upset. I wasn’t listening to the talks. At that moment I said a prayer in my heart. It was fairly simple. “Lord, Do Nonbinary people have a place in the church?” because at the time I was going by she/them pronouns. The answer then came to me as a yes, and then the choir started singing “I am a Child of God.” and the answer that then came to me, was that there is a reason it uses the word Child.

These were the words of peace that I needed at this moment. I do not pretend that I speak for the church, or for all members on these issues.

As I continued, I thought about the Family, Proclamation to the world. I thought this was the damning piece of evidence that would settle it. But the wording was strange. It testified that our gender was decided in the premortal life. Not on earth. Not at birth.

I didn’t know then, but the Lord was preparing me. Was grooming me. For a purpose that I still do not know to this day. I continued praying, though not as often. This time was for me. I came out to a small group of friends to make sure I had a support group. They caught on eventually to me wanting to be called Alice. They are so good to me.

I thought about it more. Genderfluid. That was me. I was mostly girl with a little Agender. But this was not to last. Eventually I came out to my parents and the rest of my family in what I would generally consider “a poor fashion” as I came out in a facebook post and sent my mom a letter. That was it. I was scared. Time passed. My mother grew more distraught over the realizations. My dad seemed fine. A member of my family didn’t reach out to me at all. They still have not made their feelings in the matter known to me. Fingers crossed.  As I saw my mom grow increasingly more distraught, A miraculous thing happened as I asked what to say to my mom about this. At the beginning of September, The members of the Church have a thing called “Fast and Testimony meeting.” Some members come up to the pulpit and bear their testimony.

Usually when “Prompted” as we call it. At that exact Sunday, I felt the intense desire to beat my testimony. I panicked. “But Lord? I do not have a strong enough testimony” The feeling persisted. Eventually I said , “Okay. Listen. I'm scared of this. Can you help me develop a testimony so that I can bear it after conference.” In the church we have a saying. Well in the bible there’s a saying too. Specifically James 1:5“If any of ye lack wisdom, let him ask of God.” The church continues with, “Ask and ye shall receive; Knock and it shall be opened unto you.” and I would like to add at this moment “Pay your tithing and God will dump a truckload of blessings on you and you will drown underneath it. Because you can’t handle it all.”

Throughout the entire month of September, My body dysphoria got astronomically worse. I felt horrible everyday. I was crying, I was upset because I thought I would never be able to look the way I wanted. I was miserable. And it showed no sign of getting better.

On a Sunday I looked at my bank account, and said, “I should pay my tithing.” I hadn’t paid it for years. And at the time, what I gave wasn’t 10% but it was what I had.

Monday and Tuesday of that week were horrible. But Wednesday.

The body dysphoria was bad. I was at work. I was upset about a thing a friend had done and had been for a while. I didn’t know what to do. I felt super bad, and I just wanted to die. And then I asked of God. I prayed. I asked him how I could live like this. How could i survive like this? What am I supposed to do? And then like a friend with a coy look on their face, I felt the impression in my head, “Well why don’t you read your scriptures?” But I was at work. I couldn’t read my scriptures at work because I have to process documents. I wonder if google play has the scriptures. No luck. Well General conference is like Living scripture. Let’s try that. It turns out google play has episodes of general conference, all going back to around 2015. I looked at what we had.

For some reason I never listened to April Sunday afternoon general conference. I believe I was on a hike with a friend. And so I listened to that. And the next 2 hours of my life changed me.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints, is a Christ centered gospel, and at its heart was the atonement. God testified to me many things in this talk and I do not remember everything that happened, but it all came together to start a firm foundation underneath me of the atonement of Jesus Christ. We believe that in the garden of Gethsemane Christ suffered not only the sins of all mankind, but the sorrows and afflictions and he bled from every pore. In Uchdorf’s talk “Behold the Man” I suddenly realized something that I had known all along. Jesus suffered all our pains and afflictions. Including my gender dysphoria. And he knew exactly what I was going through at that moment. The friend problems, the horrible emptiness I felt, and also me questioning how I fit in like this. God knew my sorrows and in that moment he then Imprinted an image in my head which I have not been able to shake since it was given. And I never want to lose it.

It was a simple image. It was Jesus. And I’m there. I look different. He touches my face, and just says, “Alice.” That was it. I was on the verge of tears. I suddenly felt this intense love rock me to my very core. Jesus knew me by name. Of course. We all knew that. No. it wasn’t that. Jesus knew me by this name. The name I loved. The name I wanted to be called. And he loved me. Despite all the feelings I was going through, He loved me. And nothing was ever going to change that. The talks continued, but that feeling stayed. It stayed with me throughout the entire day and as the day was over, I immediately knelt down and prayed again. I prayed to help me with my mom. She was distraught. I needed to help her.

And so I continued. I said a prayer in the morning to ask questions for things I wanted answered. And as I continued to ask, he continued to help me. My burdens had been lifted by him, as was always promised. Or moreso, He opened the pack that I had thought held heavy rocks and told me it was empty.

And it was. And the weight left me. As I proceeded I had more and more things testified to me. I am a spiritual daughter of God. I need to start looking into family history. Being Trans is both a Trial and also a blessing in my life, but I agreed to it in the premortal life.

The more I asked, the more he said. And eventually october general conference came. And the revelation continued the more I listened. Except at the end of the saturday morning session. The talk by Dallin h. Oaks. You know the one. It upset me. I knew all these things about myself, Why didn’t he? Why didn’t the mouthpiece of God know what I was and how his words hurt me?

Time passed, I continued to ask and God continued to answer, albeit slower. The talk loomed on the horizon. I knew I needed to listen. And so I did. But before I did, I asked something.

I said a prayer and asked the following, “Lord I need thy spirit about me while listening. This is a valley I cannot cross alone. Please testify of every little truth inside this talk so that I can listen well and it will have no more power over me.” Ask and ye shall receive.

I listened, and the spirit testified. It was exhilarating. The Holy Ghost came about me like a blanket and told me the truths that I knew and that I had already known. I am a Spirit Daughter of God. I was chosen before this to accomplish this task. I needed to be like this or else I wouldn’t be me. I would be miserable. The path without this was one of darkness.

And lastly, I am trans for a reason. I am this way for a reason. It’s God’s plan for me to be like this in this moment that I am right now. I know not why, and I know not how. These revelations from this talk testified it's truth to me. And here I am. I know my divine nature. I know that I am a Spirit Daughter of God that is inside a male body. And I know for a fact that Jesus can fix that.

If he can cause water to turn to wine, if he can make a loaf of bread and a few fishes feed thousands, if he can cause the dead to walk, the deaf to hear, the disabled to rise. If he can do all that, then fixing my body is nothing compared to that, But it would mean everything to me.

And so I’m going to live out the rest of my life. I’m going to change my name and I’m going to live my truth. But I’m also going to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. And that might upset people. But I know who I am.

This is my story. My name is Allison Madeline Vail, and I am a daughter of God. And no one can take this away from me. 

This originally appeared as a blog post:

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