What was the name given to you by your parents? What is your chosen name?
Honestly, my mom named me exactly what my name is now, Brandi Alexandra (after her favorite drink at the time, Brandi Alexander). When she found out I was going to be a boy...a "boy", she just changed it to the masculine form . It is now Brandi, legally.
When/How did you first know you were trans? How did this realization make you feel?
I knew when I was a teenager. That's when I learned what transgender was. I had always worn my mother's and aunt's clothes...since I was two. I always dreamed and hoped that I would wake up a girl, but didn't have a word to put with the feeling till I discovered Allanah Starr and Gia Darling.
How would you describe your childhood/life before your transition?
It honestly wasn't all that bad. I found time to be ME at night and on the weekends, although there was always this feeling that something was missing.
Who were some of your role models then? And now?
In the trans world, Janet Mock. And ALWAYS my mom!
Who did you first tell and what was their reaction?
Oddly enough, as a boy I dated trans women. There was a girl I was seeing who had been dying to get me all "dolled up" at a time I had purged everything and was trying my hardest to be a boy and not look back. Long story short, I let her dress me up and we went out. I told her everything about how I felt. She smiled and taught me about makeup.
Do you have any fears or concerns about "passing"?
I never know how to answer this question. I think it's overwhelmingly obvious about my situation, but I'm learning that for most people it's not obvious to them. Im still shocked when people don't know, though. I (personally) think I look OK for what I am.
What you are is a beautiful woman.
Have you experienced any unkindness, or worse from strangers in the community as a result of being identified as a trans individual?
I used to get called faggot so much I was shocked to discover it wasn't actually my first name! Still, much better than having things thrown at you from moving cars. people still feel the need to out me, though. And I just don't even get how someone can continuously mis-gender someone...
What is your profession?
Believe it or not, I am a Pro Wrestler! I also manage a gym.
Can you describe your experience transitioning in the workplace?
It was easy with wrestling. My old persona disappeared for a few years. When I got comfortable, I reinvented myself and came back. A few people know about me, but largely, I am not out...YET.
With the gym, it's been hard, Granted it could always be harder, but the emotional and mental devastation it has on a trans individual to be CONTINUOUSLY mis-genderef, it's a lot to bare. Cis people, please be more aware.
Does your family know? What are their attitudes toward your transition?
Now they do. It wasn't easy, though. My sister (who is 7) had the best reaction; "So you're a girl now? I like it better. Girls are more fun! Plus, you weren't good at being a boy. you didn't throw a football right." It took a bit for Grandma to come around, but everyone is 100% supportive now. I am blessed.
Are you dating/partnered? How did you meet?
I am currently seeing someone. We were set up by mutual friends.
Does their family know? Are they supportive?
My understanding is that only their mother and sister know. They are fully supportive, which is new for me. It takes getting used to. (laughs)
What has been the most difficult part of transitioning?
Having patience with those who don't get it.
What are some of your life goals?
To be a good mom and wife. To live to an old age. To hold a world record for something. Also to make an impact for the LGBT community with the WWE.
What would you tell someone just realizing they are trans?
Never shave your entire body right before going to the beach. Salt water is NOT your friend!
That, and...It's not easy, but it's worth it!
*photo published with permission from Brandi DeGroat