From NSYNC Cover Band Drag King to Coming Out at Work, Trans Man Shares Journey to Self-Acceptance

by Jay Beaulieu

My name is Jay Beaulieu, I’m from South Pasadena, California. 

When I was six years old, I remember learning how to play basketball. I was on the court learning to shoot free throws, and I was shooting from the real free throw line, not the close up one for kids. And one of the teachers from the preschool came up to me and was shocked, like, wow, you’re really good for a girl, which now in hindsight is problematic, but at that point in my life, all I could think about was, why does everybody keep calling me a girl? I really thought that I was a boy. I didn’t understand why everybody kept calling me a girl. I liked all the boy things. I liked to play with Transformers. I liked sports, and the category of girl never really suited me even at such a young age. 

So, fast-forward to college, I’m living life as a lesbian. I’m going to UMass, which is very close to Smith College, and so I’m making a lot of friends at Smith College, I happened to meet some really great friends that were also masculine presenting, and we got together and we decided to form a boy band, which was what we called our drag group. I got to choose a stage name, and the name that I picked was Jay, which was a name that I had loved since I was a kid. 

So, here we are learning all these NSYNC dances, making up dances to Color Me Bad. It was so much fun, and at one point I realized that I was the only one left in the group that was still identifying as female. Eventually, the people around me also started using he/him pronouns with me as well, which at the time was technically misgendering me, but I didn’t mind it. I had this thought that, wow, I don’t hate it when they call me “he.” Maybe I’m transgender as well. When I started questioning my gender identity, at first I really thought that maybe I was just kind of jumping on the bandwagon. All my friends are doing it, so maybe that’s why I’m feeling this way and not necessarily that it’s a real thing.

I had this thought that, wow, I don't hate it when they call me “he."

So, life moved on and I ended up getting a real job and buying a house. And one thing that never settled with me was my body dysphoria. And anybody who doesn’t want a big chest, blessed with a big chest. It was very frustrating because I couldn’t escape it. So, I attributed most of my body dysphoria specifically to that. In a moment, I decided maybe this is really the problem, and if I change this part of my body, I’ll be able to move on. And so, I ended up getting my first breast reduction at the age of 32. 

After that surgery, I felt amazing. I went out and I bought a bunch of men’s suits and they fit me. I loved the way I looked in them at first and probably bought more suits than any human should have. Eventually, all the great feelings kind of wore off, and when I looked down and the tie wasn’t completely flat, it kind of bothered me. And the suspenders not laying completely flat bothered me, and it brought me right back to 2000 when I was sitting outside with my friends at Smith College and wondering again, maybe it wasn’t just body dysphoria, maybe I really am transgender and to give that some more thought. 

A few years later, I met a wonderful woman and we started seeing each other. We fell in love. And one afternoon, it was a gorgeous afternoon, we were sitting at outside at a cafe in Boston and daydreaming talking about how someday we would get married and getting really excited about it. When I had this absolute moment of panic where my brain immediately didn’t think about all the other details, but suddenly jumped right to the “I now pronounce you wife and wife” verbiage of a wedding.   And all of a sudden I had this absolute panic of That doesn’t feel right. Wife and wife. What would I have them say? 

And I literally said out loud to her, “Well, what’ll they say when they pronounce us married?” 

And she was amazing. She said, “We can have them say whatever you want them to say.” 

Shortly after that, we went our separate ways. I went home, she went home, and the thoughts would not leave my mind. I was almost obsessed with my gender at this point. Why did that bother me so much? Why was that my first thought? I just literally decided at that moment, I need to tell her, I need to tell her. And the next moment that I was going to see her was for a business trip. 

So, we were in our room after our meeting and she could tell I was nervous and I wanted to tell her something, but I was really struggling to get it out. She just kind of looked at me and she said, “What do you need to tell me?” And I just all the feelings were stuck in my throat and I couldn’t get the words out. And she’s like, “Are you having gender feelings? Do you feel like you’re not a woman?”

And I just said, “Yes.” And I just kind of started crying and just kind of melted in that moment. 

And she just hugged me and said, “I love you.” I don’t remember a lot of the rest of that conversation, but it doesn’t matter, I felt safe. And I knew at that moment that there was no taking it back. I’d finally gotten there. With some gentle nudges from my partner, I started to socially transition. I also reached out to my supervisor at work. Somehow he knew it was coming too. So, that was a very easy process. 

And then I flew home to LA because I wanted to tell my mom in person. So, I told her in person and that went well too. It was a series of wins that I didn’t expect. And then within a few months of that, I started hormones. And about six months later, started growing a beard. The feeling was amazing. Looking in the mirror and feeling like you finally recognize yourself is just an unbelievable feeling that I didn’t expect at the end of this 20-plus year journey. 

This is my story. This is my journey, right. And not everyone’s going to have the same experiences. Maybe you figure it out by the time you’re five and maybe like me, it takes you till you’re 37. But I think it’s important that you do it on your own time and be who you are in all the moments, even if you’re not really sure who that is yet.

Sharing your story can change someone's life. Interested in learning more?