By Santo Hollon

Pt. 1 of 3 We’ve all got secrets. And we’ve all had something to hide. Dealing with secrets can be tricky, especially if there’s no one around to talk to or listen. My friend Val is one of those people. Born into an obscured sexuality that no one could explain to her, Val had to learn how to be a transsexual.Val is not the delicate super model type like Andrej Pejic, who made his living wearing women’s clothing. She is not a delicate flower. She’s a hard-working woman — lean and athletic in the way of tennis great, Martina Navratilova. She works in the oil industry as a petroleum technician and drives a truck delivering gas for extra cash.If you think I’m describing Valerie as a very masculine woman, you aren’t far from the truth. She once was a man after all; and transformed into a woman via sexual reassignment surgery.Although this is the 21st century, I feel like people still need to be educated about the differences between a transvestite, a drag queen, and a transsexual.A transsexual is someone who transforms sexes via reassignment surgery. A transvestite is a man who wears woman’s clothing because he gets sexual enjoyment from it. A drag queen is a gay man who performs, usually in a cabaret setting, as a woman. One is a fetish; the latter is an art form.Valerie is transsexual. She has always known she was a woman. Trapped inside of a man’s body. Mentally and emotionally, a woman.From a very young age, Valerie knew she was different than other children. Raised in a strict, Polish German, catholic home, her mother would beat and call her names for dressing up in ‘his’ sister’s clothing at the age of five. These traumatic experiences quickly taught Val to keep her real-self hidden inside, the “little-girl self.” She would hear little boys being called ‘faggots’ at school. Yet another reason to keep quiet.As a teenager, Val had sex with women, like most of the other young men at that age.

However unfailingly, right before climax, she would start to envision herself as the woman. These imaginings were often accompanied by resentment towards the woman she was having sex with. Because deep down, she wanted to be the woman.As a young adultVal’s struggle towards self discovery took her down many dark paths, much different from the ones she travels down today. Still a man, she did a five-year stint in the Air Force. The militaristic lifestyle led her to a gun show in Wisconsin where she met a man who introduced her to the Aryan brotherhood. The violence in Val’s soul, stemming from her complete betrayal of her self, as well as a violent and traumatic incident at 16 with a group of African American men – her throat was slashed – led her to resonate strongly with the violence and hate expressed in the meetings and rallies of the brotherhood.Her experiences in the dark world of the brotherhood starkly contrasted with her continued desire to dress and ultimately be, a woman. She began frequenting lesbian drag bars in Detroit. The Rainbow Room on 8 mile was a fave. Surrounded by different cultures and belief systems, she began to open up and be herself. After years of living this double life, she finally left the clan meetings at age 38. At the same time, she noticed societal changes taking place, enabling people to be more accepting of different life choices.Desperate to feel more like a woman she dangerously experimented with bootleg hormones to make her look more feminine, obtained through a drug dealer at the Rainbow Room.“I don’t know what I was thinking,” Valerie told me. “I guess deep down I wanted to change myself to the point where people would recognize that I should be a woman just by looking at me. It was in lieu of making a proclamation, or ‘coming out’ about my real gender.” She was thrilled to look in the mirror and see smoother skin and the formation of breasts. It was a start, she told herself.Hipped to a new club for cross-dressers, called ‘Transformations,’ she enthusiastically tried it out and loved it at first, but soon found that even with the newfound attention, she still wasn’t complete. Dressing up was not enough. Val needed more.Please stay tuned for the next installment of “A Gal Named Val:  Tale of a Transexual”By Santo Hollon