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Loosing Her Religion

Ricki Lindsey, 21, was born a male - Richard Jonathan Lindsey. She has identified as a woman publicly for 3 months. She takes a female name and begins dressing and living as a girl. The daughter of a single mother and an abusive father, she has always recognized femininity as her true source of strength.

Her mother was her hero. She died in 2006. Ricki's entire identity as a transgender woman is based on her mother as a role model. "Good night, mamma. I love you," Ricki says as she touches a photograph of her motherís face. "I don't feel safe anymore. She is gone," Ricki whispers.

In the tiny moments in between, Ricki is reminded that she is not physically a woman. This is painful. Even in her own skin, she feels alien and alone.

While removing her make-up, she strips away pieces of herself. As it comes off, she is putting a mask back on. Performing the function of a man is a source of shame to her.

At the end of the day, her body is nowhere near as important to her as her face.

When Ricki looks in the mirror and sees the face of a woman, she feels whole. Complete. Real.

Ricki is constantly torn between two worlds. Transgender women start life as a mirror image of what they want to become. Testicles are fake and breasts are real. Ricki will be incomplete until the water balloons she stuffs inside her bra are replaced by real flesh.

The only time she feels beautiful is when she is out as a woman. For Ricki, having curves and being plus-sized is a source of self confidence.

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