By Julie Loomis

Word on the Street Issue 40, February 2024

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We all meet those people that are hard to forget – that is my friend Maddie. I met her when she was walking through the area where I was sitting at the shelter, and we were introduced. At 6’ 4”, she makes an entrance and is full of life. Maddie wasn’t always Madelyn, she was once Matthew. Just like many people at the shelter, she has a compelling story.

Maddie was born male. At a young age, she was taken from her family by a man who wanted a boy. He thought he could make Maddie into some type of jock. Of course, this was not our Maddie. She grew up being told that the sex you are born with is the only way.

I can’t say that I have been born in the wrong body and understand her experience. However, I do listen to Maddie and never judge. Maddie became a confused person who felt like she never fit in and drank away her pain. That is where the shelter found her – laying covered in bugs, passed out, and very ill. She spent time at the hospital with liver damage and doctors told her that she needed to quit drinking.

Maddie joined Project Recovery at Interfaith Sanctuary and had a hard time staying sober.  Being sober made her see that she was a woman and not a man. She was sent to a doctor who works with transgender people. After Maddie started taking female hormones, she finally felt she had a reason to recover.

Maddie had her name changed and began living as her true self. It is not an easy path she has taken between getting used to the hormones, not drinking, and facing life as a minority. No longer a white male, being a transgender female is a different world.

I understand being a minority female, so some of the things Maddie faces I understand. She has gotten in trouble for using a female bathroom, told to kill herself, faced job discrimination, and harassment by random men. She also has gender dysphoria, which makes her hate how she looks because she wants to see a beautiful woman with all the curves. She has severe anxiety attacks because of this. The hormones have made her have softer features and some body changes, but it takes time to work its magic.

Despite going through all this, Maddie is a beautiful woman with an amazing spirit. She is always kind, funny and sincere. She tells great stories and my life would definitely be less colorful without her. I can’t understand why anyone would want to be cruel or hurt such a wonderful woman. Maddie is a success story here at the shelter. She has found herself, quit drinking, and keeps positive no matter how much the world wants to knock her down.