Serenity Gray spent most of her life trying to live a life for other people, but that changed at COD’s third annual Gayla hosted by Pride Alliance, Serenity revealed her true self and came out as a transgender female. Yet, she was already married to a woman.
Serenity was homeschooled for most of her life and was brought up in a fundamentally Christian environment. At the age of ten she decided she wanted to go into Pastoral Ministry, and she began studying bibles, ancient Hebrew and the culture.
Serenity’s dream of becoming a Pastor continued into college. She completed her gen-eds at COD and then transferred to Illinois State University (ISU). At ISU, Serenity was a part of a church organization, which is where she met Aaron. In 2011, they were married.
On April 19, 2019, Serenity attended the Gayla, a second chance prom for members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies. Serenity dressed up in a suit and a friend helped her apply makeup for the first time. That night was the happiest she had felt in her entire life. At the time, Serenity was not aware that she struggles with gender dysphoria and she spent the majority of her life trying to be someone else, which caused her a lot of pain and discomfort. Throughout her life, Serenity struggled with suicide and made eight attempts.
“Gender dysphoria is a medical condition, you don’t have to have gender dysphoria to be trans but I happen to have it,” said Serenity. “It’s an intense discomfort in the body that you are in and the way that you are forced by society to express yourself.”
That night, Serenity came out to the world, her partner and herself as transgender. Her coming out had relieved some of the stress caused by hiding herself but simultaneously made her nervous because she wasn’t sure how her spouse would react to the new information. Although they had gone through a lot together, Serenity was anxious because she hadn’t seen many couples stay together after one of them came out as transgender.
“I was trying to live a life that society and family had told me to and it ended up being the worst possible decision of my life trying to do that,” said Serenity. “When I started accepting who I was, I felt weird and odd and screwed up at first, but within a matter of days, I had felt the happiest I had been in 32 years of my life. It’s not without its struggles, challenges, and its problems.”
However, Aaron was not shocked by Serenity’s coming out. Having known her for years, Aaron thought that Serenity’s coming out made a lot of sense. At that time, Aaron wasn’t living as his true self either.
Since Serenity was no longer hiding, her mood increased and her depression subdued. Serenity’s self-discovery helped Aaron realize how much good can come from self-acceptance. Two months after Serenity came out, Aaron came out as transgender.
“I always knew since I was a kid,” Aaron said. “I just shoved it far down. I hid it. Part of that was because of where I grew up, and how I grew up in the church. I remember always fighting with my grandma and mom about wearing female clothes. They thought I was just a tomboy, or it was a phase, but it wasn’t.”
Serenity and Aaron are going through their transitions together.
“Trans is part of transitioning,” Aaron said. “So I’m transitioning from one to the next. It is a process. The best way for me to explain that is through the analogy of being a moth or a butterfly from a caterpillar. It’s a process, and the hard part of the process is when you’re in a chrysalis. It’s a very painful process for the butterfly and for the moth. That’s kind of the stage I’m in. I want to be the best version of myself. The best version of myself is me knowing who I am, but I have to go through the work to do that.”
Both Serenity and Aaron began using Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) injections for their transition process. The therapy helps the physical body keep in sync with how the mind feels. HRTs come in the form of pills, patches and gels, but the injections are the most effective. Serenity uses HRT Estrogen injections and Aaron uses HRT Testosterone injections.
Serenity said, “There are the physical changes: my skin is softer, I’m developing breasts, my mood has leveled off. I used to be very numb, curt, calculating and direct. Now, I’m a lot more empathetic. I’m calmer. It’s easier for me to listen. I don’t have panic attacks like I used to and I actually feel emotions.”
Although insurance covers part of the cost of the injections, obtaining HRTs can be extremely difficult because there is a manufacturer shortage. The manufacturers have the ability to raise and lower the prices because of the limited amount of pharmaceutical manufacturers.
The medical aspect is only a part of the difficulties that transgender experience. Serenity and Aaron started a podcast to be a voice for an underrepresented group. They talk about their unique experience as well as the challenges they face as a transgender couple. The podcast serves as a place to go for people who want to learn more or just want to support members of the LGBTQ+ community.
You can listen to their podcast, Nothing But Love, at https://anchor.fm/nothingbutlove