October 11th marks National Coming Out Day, a celebration that began 30 years ago for the LGBT – lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender –  community to embrace their identity. The holiday started in 1987 when half a million people marched in Washington D.C. for gay rights.

Watch the original story: http://www.kezi.com/news/Woman_Shares_Coming_Out_Story_for_National_Coming_Out_Day.html

For one woman here in Eugene, being able to come out and embrace her identity safely is a special milestone after all that she’s been through. And now she’s sharing her story, hoping to uplift and empower other individuals who are struggling to come out as well.

Seda Collier grew up in a town 20 miles from Laramie, Wyoming in an environment that was dominated by cowboy culture. She felt compelled to be more masculine, because she was born in a man’s body.

 “As I went through grade school and was teased for running like a girl, throwing like a girl, I’d watched the boys and study how they move and how they do things. I’d learn how to do it just like them,” said Collier.

She first tried on her sister’s clothing around age 7 and that’s when she started feeling more comfortable with who she was. But the scary part was, she had to do it all in secret.

“It was serious social suicide to be caught doing anything like that…at that point. So I was very careful and actually never got caught,” said Collier.

She conformed to society’s pressures and tried to engage in activities that were considered masculine. She joined the Marine Corp after graduating high school and worked multiple jobs including being a commercial fisherman and lumberjack.

“I felt really good when I was dressed like a girl. When I was dressing as a boy, I think I mainly just shut down. I really kind of pushed my emotions down and it was probably more numb than anything,” said Collier.

Collier got married in 1992 to her wife, Kristin and they had two children in 2000 and 2003. But eventually, she realized that she wasn’t completely happy because she was not living her life as her real self.

The coming out process wasn’t easy, nor short. Collier went through mental health therapy for three years and seriously considered suicide in 2006, carefully planning out how she was going to end her life and making sure her family would be taken care of after her death.

“I remember looking in the mirror one day and screaming, ‘I hate you!’ at my reflection. I knew I had to change and come out to transition,” said Collier.

But eventually, she was able to reach a point where she could come out to herself and embrace her true identity.

“The best thing is to find someone who believes you and start a network of safety,” said Collier about advising other individuals who are struggling with coming out.

Collier’s wife, Kristin has written a book titled, “Housewife: Home-Remaking in a Transgender Marriage about how they stayed together after Collier came out. The book release is in November.