At first glance, Terrena and Kaiden are just like any other couple. They go out on dates, they get breakfast together with friends, and they’re wearing matching shoes here! You see two people who are happy and comfortable with each other.
Here’s what you might not have guessed:
The name Terrena’s parents gave her was Terrence, and back when we first met her 2 years ago, she was just starting to wear dresses and let her hair grow. Now, her wardrobe’s fully transformed into that of a woman, and her hair’s even longer than mine! More so, she’s found love.
If you’ve read her story, you’ll know that Terrena was struggling with her gender identity, depression, and learning to love herself, as she is.
We caught up with her recently and are so thankful to see she’s now happy. She is such an open, honest person, and it is so easy to talk to her. Here’s how our conversation went:
Me: So when we first met you, you said that for as long as you can remember, you’ve always felt more like a girl and you grew up with a family who didn’t quite understand your feminine side. You were unsure of your own identity, feeling like you were living a lie. What’s changed now that you’ve came out?
Terrena: Hm, I’m just like any other normal person. Of course, in the beginning, you won’t look so much like a girl and people would stare a little but they won’t discriminate. Even if they did, I didn’t notice. Maybe it’s because my mindset’s changed in that I no longer care what people think about me. I mean, I was bullied when I was young, but not anymore.
Before I met Kaiden, I did feel depressed at times. Because I moved, I didn’t have my friends close by, around me anymore. I guess that made me overthink things and that developed into suicidal thoughts.
Me: What about since our last interview with you? Any updates?
Terrena: There’s a big difference, actually. Then was when I first started this journey. I didn’t have much confidence because I still looked more like a man.
I had just started to buy dresses then. I was worried, concerned and thought a lot about what people’s reactions would be if I were to step into a store to buy dresses. But now, I don’t think about it anymore. My whole closet is 100% made of women’s clothing!
Me: You mentioned you’ve had suicidal thoughts more than once before. How did you overcome them?
Terrena: I watched videos. About transgenders. America has many transgender Youtubers and I would watch their stories, listen to what they have to say and learn from them. They helped me live my life, as myself, more comfortably.
Me: So you didn’t feel as alone. Now, onto you and Kaiden! How long have you been dating and how did you two meet?
Terrena: We started dating on May 20th.
Me: 520? What a good date!
Terrena: Yeah, we met on Facebook through mutual friends. He initiated the conversation, we started talking and then we decided on a date to meet. I was coming back from Singapore and it just so happened to be on that day.
Me: What do you like most about each other?
Terrena: I don’t know, really. Actually, when he first started talking to me on Facebook, I was a little shocked. I mean, from looking at his face, he’s just like the kinda guy I like. He looks like a good guy, you know. And when we first met, I realised he was quite tall, which is great since I’m tall too.
No guy’s ever been this good to me. He’s the first guy to ever treat me this well. When I had to move house, he helped me. A lot. I wouldn’t have been able to do it on my own, really. He’s done a lot for me. When he had the time back when we were living bit more close to each other, he would get take away for me and make sure I don’t go hungry.
Kaiden: Well, Terrena is a very caring person. A very, very caring person. She will always think about me.
Me: What hopes do you have for the future? For you and other transgender couples.
Terrena: Of course, we hope to be able to openly be who we are, and get married. We have talked about it. But really, we don’t know how our family will accept it. Perhaps our family won’t be a part of our wedding. Just us and friends.
Me: When the two of you are out now, do you feel any different? Do you catch people staring?
Terrena: Hm, Kaiden says there are people who look at me. But I’m used to it. Even before I started this journey of transformation, a lot of people were already staring. Because my face does look a bit more feminine. I remember I went into the men’s toilet back then, and the uncle looked a bit shocked when he saw me.
Kaiden: Actually, I see her as a girl. I don’t care if she’s a transgender. So, I think hanging out with Terrena is just like normal dating.
Me: Terrena, you’ve surely grown as a person from 2 years ago. But, there are still those who are afraid of embracing themselves because being a transgender is not what society knows as the ‘norm’. What message do you have for those who are currently in the situation you were in before?
Terrena: I feel, you don’t have to be afraid. You might think that Malaysia is a conservative country and you are alone. Actually, no. Malaysia has many transgender friends, like me. They might choose not to openly expose themselves, but we are a community and we support each other.
I used to feel sad and alone, like no one understands me. I would think about committing suicide but once you realise that there are others like you, you just have to make the effort to find them. When you really feel like the negative thoughts are taking over, I encourage you to look for friends and talk about it.
Me: Anything else you would like to add?
Terrena: Don’t hide who you are. If you do, you’ll never find true love. For example, if you’re dating someone now and he doesn’t know you are a transgender, he might not be able to accept it when he finds out later. He will leave you. Immediately. Then you will feel sad. The earlier they know, the better.
I was very open with Kaiden. As soon we started talking on Facebook, I told him that I was a transwoman. And he accepted me as a friend, first. As with any relationship, we have to start off as friends, right? Then slowly become lovers.
Be honest to others, and to yourself.
We would like to thank Terrena and Kaiden for sharing their story with us. We’ve learned so much from them and we hope you too find courage to be honest about who you are, to others and to yourself. We could all do with a little support in our life so be there for others, as you would want them to be there for you.
Most importantly, remember that love has no limits.