By Mark McConville
MEET the transgender man who made the transition from female to male after the shock of his brother’s suicide made him value personal happiness over what others thought of him.
Barnaby Forrest Royce (26), from Kenosha, Wisconsin, USA, was bullied in school for looking like what his tormentors described as a ‘dyke’ before undergoing a makeover to stop it.
The Amazon Warehouse Associate knew in high school that he was going to transition but decided to be the best female version of himself until then.
He began work as a promotional model in the gaming industry and experience some happiness with the feminine side of him, but realised it couldn’t last.
“My path to starting my transition is a long one,” he explained.
“Before I started high school I used to get bullied as I wasn’t the most feminine girl. Around 2009, the year I graduated I came out to a dear friend about being transgender.
“I knew I always felt different and that my sexuality didn’t exactly pinpoint it. My friend was the only person I told of my plans to transition in a few years.
“I figured if I was going to identify as female until then, I was going to be the best woman I could be. So after I graduated high school I came out publicly as a lesbian.
“I pushed my comfort in femininity. I started promotional modeling for the gaming industry. I fell for the acceptance and positive attention I received for being the “femme lesbian”.
“I thought I was happy because I was getting to travel, paid to look pretty at events and receiving positive attention. It was temporary happiness.”
Barnaby, who used to be known as Emily Jean Royce, knew he wasn’t happy as a woman but it wasn’t until his brother’s suicide and subsequently his travels that he really found himself.
“I was rushed home where I stayed for a week for the funeral with my family,” he recalled.
“I moved home to my family only for the differences in our grieving to conflict. I then moved to Indianapolis, Indiana where I trained in acrobatics with the Indy community.
“A few months after I found myself living at a yoga retreat campgrounds. I lived in a yurt on the grounds out of a duffel bag for a few months. I sometimes spent weeks at a time on the campgrounds completely alone.
“I really started to learn more about myself. Toward the end of the fall season I met two beautiful humans that invited me on a month long road trip from Illinois to Oregon.
“After returning to Illinois, I had a completely different mindset. Through all the struggles and the joy I truly started to find my happiness.
“After living out of a duffel bag for half a year, my feminine appearance became less important to me. I realized how unhappy I was trying to be something I wasn’t. I only did it for everyone else and the positive attention I received.
“My brother also lived to make other people happy. He did everything he could to live that “American Dream” life. He was also bullied in school until he changed his life to please everyone else. I promised myself that my happiness came first and no more living to make anyone else happy.”
Barnaby made the first change at 24 by cutting all his hair off and then starting hormone treatments. He has since had three hours of top surgery and plans to have a hysterectomy next.
He now lives with his girlfriend, Jacqueline Farruggia, in Grayslake, Illinois and explained how the transition changed his life.
“Before my top surgery I had a very hard time with my dysphoria,” he said.
“Before surgery I was between a B and C cup. I wore a binder for two years and I couldn’t wear tank tops because even with a binder I had visible cleavage.
“I would over heat in the summers and at work in warehouses. Now I find great joy in just feeling the breeze flow through my shirts. The surgery was life changing and incredibly freeing.
“It has changed my life in many ways: how I view myself and how others view me, my jobs and interactions with men and women, my relationships with friends and family, my interactions in bars and LGBTQ community. I am now viewed as a cis-male. I make more money than when I was female. I notice women avoid me on streets at night. Men use locker room talk around me.
“I feel happy now. I am feeling more and more at home in my body. I no longer feel uncomfortable with the gender I present. It feels like this is who I have been all my life and people are finally seeing me for who I really am. I’m much more confident now.”
Barnaby’s family all accept him for who he is and use his correct name and the correct gender pronouns. He had a message for anyone on the same path as he was.
“Trust the process,” he said. “Be patient. Love yourself. Stay strong. It gets better. I am amazed by the changes I continue to see as more time passes.
“Don’t let anyone define your happiness. Find your community that makes you feel at home, it makes a world of difference. Transitioning can be hard but not living as your true self can be so much harder.
“Reach out to your community, my fellow Trans brothers are my extended family. It is so great getting to relate to someone when the process can make you feel so alone.
“Be proud of who you are and are becoming. I personally find my former self to be one of my inspirations and idols. She worked hard, overcame a lot and found the courage to let herself go to give me life. I couldn’t have made it this far with without her.”