I’m From New Haven, CT – Video Story

by tony ferraiolo

I wanted to kinda talk about my childhood and how I struggled with dealing with first my sexual orientation and second my gender identity.  Through my life I was pretty much abused by my father, continuously.  I was supposed to be his daughter but I acted more like his son and I don’t think he could handle it. So, I was in school and it was like sixth grade or something and the teacher said, “What do you want to be when you grow up” and I stood up and said, “I want to be a boy.” And the whole class laughed at me and made fun of me for the rest of my school, let’s say, life. I kinda went into isolation, did a lot of drugs, was a cutter. I used to mutilate my body. But it was really weird because even when all that was happening I always knew my life was going to be better. It was like, the craziest thing. I was just trying to survive.

So, about five years ago things still weren’t right. I mean, I had friends and my life was better. I identified as a lesbian. Things were okay. I had some partners but still I wasn’t connecting with myself. And then I watched a documentary on transgendered people and I was blown away because that’s who I was and I realized it.

About five years ago I got my chest surgery and as soon as I saw myself in the mirror my life just totally changed and I became an activist for my community and I work a lot with the youth. First I was a mentor and I said, “You know there’s gotta be more than this one trans kid who needs my help” so I started a youth group for trans kids between the ages of 14 and 17. And it’s amazing how when I’m sitting in a room with a kid and the kids like cryin’, “I’m cuttin’ myself. I don’t wanna be in school.” I’m like, “Dude, everything is okay. I was there.” So it’s almost like being with the kids rights all my wrongs. I always wondered why I was abused so much and why I was a cutter and I did so much drugs. Like, why was that thrown on one person? And now I know why.

Sometimes you gotta dig really deep and fight like an animal to survive but there will come a day when you’ll sit back and say, “That was all worth it because now I’m happy and I’m me.”


  1. An interesting thing happened while filming this story. Marquise filmed us in Union Square Park here in NYC, and people were sitting at other tables around us. After Tony finished telling his story and Marquise called it a wrap, two teenage girls, probably 15 or 16, turned to us as we were walking by and said, “That was really amazing. We didn’t mean to snoop, but we couldn’t stop listening.” We said thanks, and then one of them said to Tony, “You don’t look like a girl.” Tony smiled and simply responded, “I’m not.” Tony then was kind and patient enough to talk with them and answer their questions. It was such a great feeling to see education and understanding take place right there in front of us.

    Thanks for the story, Tony, and good luck in your continued success in opening the world’s eyes and hearts.

  2. So many times when we think about LGBT issues we focus so much on the L and the G to the detriment of the rest of our community. Over the past two days I have read a few stories that have reminded me how rich our community really is, and how important stories like yours, Tony, really are.

    I have never heard a story about transgenderism told in a way that touched me as much as yours. Thank you for sharing your story.

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