I am a transman: Danny’s journey
by Danny Ashton Earll
What is a transman? Danny Ashton Earll, a new contributor to Bent Alaska, shares the story of his life and journey as a transgender man in Alaska — and also shares resources he compiled for transmen during his reign as the ICOAA’s Mister Gay Alaska 2011–2012.
A transman: what is that? What does it mean? Well if you look it up in the dictionary it’s not there. Trust me, I tried. My own definition of a transman comes from my own experiences and the best way I can define it is that a transman is a person who was born physically female but identifies as or takes permanent steps to become physically male. Sound simple enough right? Wrong. Being transgender, an umbrella term used to describe any gender identity other than fully male or fully female, is a difficult and often emotional journey.
My name is Danny, and I am a transman; I’d like to take you through my life and journey to share my experiences so hopefully the world can see that we’re really not all that bad. In fact, sometimes we can be quite humorous.
I have known my whole life that I was different. At the age of four I told my mother that I was a boy not a girl; that didn’t go over so well, especially since I grew up in a very religious home — we were Mormon. I’m not complaining though. I had a great childhood. My family was very loving, and I even enjoyed church. It wasn’t until I became a teenager that I realized there was something extremely different about me, and I didn’t know what it was. Once I got into middle school and high school I got teased and harassed on a daily basis being called dyke, queer, crazy stalker, freak, homo, among other names, with profanity like I had never heard before. I didn’t even know they were saying the F-word until I was sixteen and working at McDonalds. I lived a very sheltered life.
It wasn’t until college when I began to learn what all those things were that I was being called in grade school. I learned what it meant to be gay and a lesbian and even learned that I couldn’t get HIV from touching someone. SWEET! I was becoming educated about the world around me, and I couldn’t believe all the information that was distorted to me as a child. I learned about HIV and other STDs and what it meant to have safe sex from watching the tv series, “Queer as Folk”; my favorite tv show besides “Dexter.” I felt excited to be learning and attending college like an adult. But even coming out as a lesbian didn’t fix everything. I still felt like something was wrong. I couldn’t put my finger on it. Why was I so crazy? I finally could dress and do my hair how I wanted; I had a great girlfriend who helped me out in many ways and educated me in even more ways… I should have been great! However I still struggled with being okay in my own skin. I had panic attacks any time I had to use a public bathroom or locker room. I had security called on me; some women tried to throw me out of the bathroom; I was even hit with a few purses and called a pervert. I felt lost and in a constant state of awareness of what was around me just to try and minimize my own anxiety.
My sophomore year of college I had a Research in Psychology class with Dr. Gwen Lupfer-Johnson and was loving school once again since high school. I finally found my career choice and dove into my class work. Not only was Dr. Gwen my favorite teacher for her teaching style, but I also was crushing on her hardcore, so I of course always paid attention in class and did well. I began thinking that I needed a crush on all my professors so I’d never fail another class again but that might have been even more confusing to my young, innocent self. I was very lucky to have Dr. Gwen notice me and how my behavior was. One day we started talking about something called a transman. It was something I’d never heard of. I knew that men sometimes became women, but were there really women who became men? I had to know more. Dr. Gwen got me in touch with a transman she knew, and I started researching the internet. I found The Family at UAA (the LGBTQIA student club) and started going. I learned about drag kings, drag queens, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender. My mind was officially blown. Dr. Gwen had opened a secret door to my soul that no one else had noticed.
I began seeing a therapist to figure out what this whole transgender thing meant and continued to get involved in the community. I turned twenty-one and began performing as Danny Cockring at Mad Myrna’s Friday Night Diva Variety Show. Performing was a big step in figuring out who I was and what I wanted. I dove right into being Danny Cockring. I played that persona and studied everything I could. I emailed kings from all over the internet and did my own research paper on gender identity. I was on a roll to educate myself. As I began getting comfortable with my performing persona, I felt a deep desire to be in drag more often. Any time I could, I’d dress up as Danny. I was all about that male persona and feeling free to just be. The longer I performed at the Diva Show, the more intense the need to be Danny on a regular basis became.
Finally in April of 2010 I got my letter to begin testosterone treatments after a year of therapy. I was so excited and nervous but nothing was going to stop me.
Now two and a half years later I am happily identifying as male on a daily basis. I had my legal name change in January of 2011 and have had one partial surgery towards my transition. The biggest compliment I receive is that when people find out I’m Trans, they are in complete shock. The most common reaction is, “I never would have guessed.” Even when I act like a feminine little gay boy, no one ever questions my gender. I use male restrooms and locker rooms which has caused my anxiety to decrease significantly. I can go do my business and move on without a second thought. I finally feel comfortable in my own skin even though I still have a long way to go until I have the body I want. Sometimes people will ask me if I ever have any regrets because transitioning isn’t an easy thing, but my only regret is that I didn’t start it sooner.
Resources for transmen in Alaska
Danny served as Mister Gay Alaska 2011–2012. At his step down on June 2, he presented a resource list for transmen that he put together during his reign:
Note that these resources are also useful for transgender women!