On this episode of Straight Up With Stassi, Stassi is joined by transgender activist Billie Lee, aka @itsmebillielee, to tell her story.
“What is the earliest memory you have when you knew you weren’t in the right body?”
Billie: “It was when — this is one of the most difficult stories when I tell it sometimes — but I was at an Easter egg hunt when I was little and I found the golden egg so I got to pick the biggest prize. I was probably about six. I had my eye on this pink bike and I was so excited about it the whole time, and they brought me past the pink section to the red and blue section, the boys section.
I was crying and I really wanted the pink bike and I couldn’t go to the girls section. They gave me a firetruck, but it wasn’t something that I wanted. At that point, I knew I was in the wrong body. I didn’t understand it then, but I knew that I was attracted to pretty, pink, beautiful things, and I wasn’t attracted to a dump truck, or a fire truck. But at that moment, my parents made me be a boy.”
“Did you express [your desire to be a girl] or did you keep it to yourself?”
Billie: “I kept it to myself. There wasn’t the word ‘trans’ in my family. The doctors didn’t know. This was a small town in Indiana, probably 20 years ago. I was being rejected, being told not to be who I wanted to be and who I felt like. So I was depressed. I wouldn’t want to go to school, I would hide in the bath tub. Still to this day, the bath tub is a safe zone for me. My parents would fight and I would run to the bath and hide, and I would hide from the school bus. It was just a point in my life where I felt really depressed. I was suicidal. And I was angry. I would destroy my room, I would hit myself, and I hated — and saying this out loud is crazy because I have such a beautiful relationship with the universe and God now — but I hated God back then. I hated the fact that I was put in this life, that I was someone that was born in the wrong body and no one understood. I was miserable.”
“If somebody were to come to you and say, ‘I want to transition, how long did it take you?’ what advice would you give to that person?”
Billie: “I would say, ‘Baby, be patient. And love yourself through that process.’ Because society will beat the shit out of you, but you have to love yourself. It took a long time. It was years. Even after the surgery, I was healing for like, a year. I had my sexual reassignment surgery and then two months later I was back in the States and had my facial surgery, which is called facial feminization. They do everything to feminize your face.”
“You have 41k followers on Instagram. You now are a figure for people. People look up to you, you have fans, you have followers. How did you go from not telling people that you would date [that you were a trans woman] to embracing it fully to the point where you’re a public figure?”
Billie: “It’s because I fell in love with myself, and I think people gravitate to that. I went through a journey where I now want to love myself. I started doing different ceremonies, I did iowaska ceremonies. Iowaska is a plant, a vine that usually grows in topical areas. You drink it as a tea, and you have a Shaman — my guy was a doctor and a Shaman, and I drank this tea and hallucinated and basically almost died.
You just really go through it. I held onto so much shame as a child, I took that shame from my parents, from being bullied, from all the rumors in my school — I took that, and we all take stuff from our childhood, and we hold onto it. It doesn’t serve us, but we hold onto it and it becomes something, like insecurity. It affects our relationships, it affects who we are to the public. And I realized I needed to release that. And I purged. I puked, and I purged, and I got rid of so much shame and so much negativity that I was holding onto.
Now, I’m at a place in my life where I love who I am and I love that I went through all of that. People message me and say, “I’ve been struggling, I’ve been suicidal, and reading your posts really inspires me and really touches me,’ and I’m like, ‘That’s what I’m living for.’ I went through hell as a child, and I questioned why I went through hell, and it’s to bring inspiration to people. To give them light. To save lives. And if I can save someone’s life, then that’s what I want to do. And I’m so grateful that I have that opportunity.”