I was born on November 29, 1984, in the city of Coon Rapids, Minnesota. At birth, I was chosen a different name than the one I am using now. I won’t say that name, because it is a dead name.

I have a brother named Kevin. He is three years older than me and a sister named Laura, who is two years older than me.

My mom, (Carmela) My dad, (Richard)
My Sister (Laura) My Brother (Kevin) and baby (Me)

I was told when I got home to my family; I was living in the city of Anoka. I don’t remember anything of those times. Of course, I was only born then. When I was 3 years old, I remember living in a small town up in the northwestern part of the state of Minnesota. The little town of Finlayson. I remember living on a farm. I would climb on hay stalks of our neighbors and pick apples at out tree. Even remember feeding the chickens we had. I hated the rooster. One day I chose to go out and feed the chickens. I didn't know what a rooster looked like. When I opened the fence to the chickens, the rooster came out of the building and started chasing me. I got scared. 
There was a time my dad was getting ready for dinner. He took one of the chickens and right in front of us, he cut the head off. We all started crying.

On the farm, we had three dogs and some cats. I don't remember the names of the dogs, but I do remember one of them was really dumb. That was also the time I first ate dog food. :P While living on the farm, I did learn a thing about electricity. I learned never to put a fork in the electric outlet. It was a good thing someone was nearby and pushed me away when I got electrocuted. 

The farm I lived at with my family

Also when I was three, I had some strange feelings. A feeling that I knew something was different about me than anyone I knew.  These feelings stayed with me. My mom and dad had a fight one day on the farm during the winter season. I just turned 4 years old. This lead us to being taken away to a foster home for a couple of days. During that time at the home, I saw a little girl running around the house totally naked. That triggered me a little. The feelings I had inside triggered, I should have said. That naked little girl helped me understand that I should have been a girl as well.

The time came when my mom came to pick up my siblings and me. I don’t remember much of that time. All I knew was we went to some house. But that didn't last long because eventually, my mom got an apartment just outside of New Prague on Maple Lane. During this time my parents were separated.  My mom met a new friend. Her name was Sue. She had a son around my age named Glen. We hung out a lot. What was the best thing about him was he had lots of cool toys and even a Nintendo Entertainment System. During that time (1989) it was still the latest and only release of Nintendo Systems. The Super Nintendo wasn’t out yet. I loved playing Super Mario Brothers and Duck Hunt. My mom and Sue loved playing Dr. Mario and Joust. I have no idea what my sister and brother liked to play. 

The Apartment on Maple Lane

When I was living in the apartment, I started preschool. Went the same year as Glen. We were the same age, but he was younger than me. I remember not following directions in school. It's not like I hated school, I just didn't care for it. I was more into playing at that age. I remember going on a field trip to a farm where I got to ride my very first horse. Of course, I had to hold onto a handle on the saddle. "Safety First."
Before the new school year, my family moved to a house in downtown New Prague. It was a really nice house. Lots of memories there. I shared a room with Kevin and had my own closet, which I was scared to even go in. I remember that building had lots of centipedes living in it as well. Might be how I became scared of them.

 When I started Kindergarten, I went to New Prague Elementary School (Now known today as Falcon Ridge Elementary).  Kindergarten was not my thing. That's where I started to learn things. No more playing around. I learned my ABC's yes I know most kids when they get into Kindergarten already know there ABC's. I guess it was just to see if we knew exactly what they really were. (I hear nowadays kids in Kindergarten learn Spanish. But Not when I was a kid.) I never really learned how to read until First grade. I was a slow learner. I went to Speech and many other classes, not part of the normal school classes the other students were learning. In First Grade, I had a crush on a girl named Erica. Yes, I know, I still felt like a girl. But I was also having feelings for girls. I liked boys as well. I never knew what bisexual was in those days. Come On I was only six years old then. But at any age, you have bisexual feelings. you just don't know it that much. My teacher Mrs. McNabb kept me separated from most of the girls. It wasn't really fair for me. 

I remember Halloween 1991. That was the year of the big snowstorm. We didn't do much Halloween then, but it was fun.

Sue at the house with The cats Calico, Ralph and Tippers

Me in the background (Eew I had short hair)

During Summer break my mom and my dad were having a fight over custody of my siblings and me. They have been divorced for about a year. My dad was being an asshole and wanted full custody of us. Saying my mom was not fit to be a parent. Making lies about mom was abusive. Also saying that my mom was a lesbian. (She admitted she was bisexual) The judge was also an asshole and didn't like homosexuals. He agreed with my dad in getting full custody.

When we moved in with dad. Things got bad very fast. We were forced to move away from New Prague to an apartment in Jordan. That's where my dad started abusing me. Hitting me. Not only hitting but yelling at me and also he even touched me in places I shouldn't be touched at. I made a few friends down the road from where I lived. I hung out with them a lot because I was scared to be home with my dad. I believe they knew about the abuse that was going on. I don't understand why they didn't report it.  My dad became a manager at the apartments because he couldn't get a job. 

When school started, I went to second grade at Jordan Elementary School. I wasn't learning really well. I would need special attention with the teacher's assistant. At least I learned a few things in school. 

I still was able to see my mom. My siblings and I would go to her new home in Montgomery once every other weekend. I would spend time with Glen playing with the toys that were there. I really loved playing with my sister with her Barbie dolls. She didn't really like it that much. I wish she would have let me play with them more. I believe she thought I would break them. I would spend my birthday and Christmas there. There was one time we played Hide and Seek in the dark. Yes, Me, my Mom, Glen, Laura, Kevin, and Even Sue played the game. It was fun. When we went to moms we would go Trick Or Treating as well. Dad did not agree with Halloween. He said it was Satan's Birthday. He was such a jerk when it came to fun.

Christmas at my Mom's House
(Pictured My Brother, My Sister, and Me)

Third Grade was worse. I couldn't concentrate at all. I had a hard time with multiplication. Cursive was a slight bit hard, but I was able to get through that. It took me much longer than the rest of the class to learn Multiplication. 
I was sent to a special school in Forth Grade through the Minnesota River Valley Special Education Center. also known as MRVSEC. (Now known today as SouthWest Metro Education Cooperative)

The school wasn't even ready for me, so during the first month of school for my siblings, I was put in daycare. My dad made sure I was sent to a "Christian" Daycare. I hated it so much. I couldn't go outside unless I was with someone. I couldn't watch TV shows unless it was approved. It had to be a Christian show. I couldn't watch my favorite show Tazmania because there was a "devil" on it. Yes, a Tasmanian Devil.

The first day of school finally came. I met a few friends at the MRVSEC program called Wings. I had a best friend at the time named Carrie. We spent time together during group, otherwise, I never saw her because she was always in a different room. I did act up in that school. Was always thrown into a room for a time-out. 

While at Wings, I met a new girl. Her name was Melissa. We became best friends right away the day when she first got on the bus. She was shy, but she opened up to me. Throughout the years, We both got very close. Her mother Anne and my dad got together and dated. I got to see Melissa more. That made me happy. that was also the time I had my first kiss. Yes, my first kiss was from a girl. It was an experimental kiss. I loved it. 

Me as a Baby with Grandma

For almost half the summer one year, I went up to my grandma's house in Rutledge Minnesota. She had two schnauzers one named Erica and the other Elfie. She would once in a while take the dogs up to doggy daycare in Moose Lake. That was good times. 

When I go there, we would sometimes have a bonfire in the yard. I would roast marshmallows and have smores. There have been a few times that my brother and sister would come over and we would spend most of the summer up with grandma.
Sometimes When I went to my grandmas by myself, we would go to her parent's house. Yes, my Great Grandparents. They had a chihuahua named Taco. I never liked him. I believe my grandma was the one that got me hooked on Diet Pepsi when I was up there. Every time I drink one, it reminds me of those good days.  

My Grandma and Great Grandma

For many years school was always the same. I never learned much. I was always sty in the MRVSEC and learn about the same thing. As of today, I don't even know much algebra. Special Education schools don't even bother helping me. I don't even know why I was even in the schools. My dad put me in them. Mom said to me she really didn't want me in those schools. I would have been fine in regular schools with a bit of help on the side.

When I finally got out of school, I started my first job at McDonald's. I still feel stupid to even start there. While I was working there, I took a month and a half off and went to the Philippines with my dad. I was surprised that McDonald's allowed that.  We were going there for my dad's wedding with my now step Mom, Joyce. I met a few of my new family members and even a few friends. I would go swimming there and even have a nice boat ride from one island to the other. When I got back to the United States, I went back to McDonald's but eventually got a job at Walmart. Each job didn't last long. For the next 2 years, I got a job at The Rainforest Cafe at the Mall of America, Canterbury Inn, Shell gas station, Valleyfair, White Castle, A warehouse Job called Carolina Logistics Services and a Janitor Job at Turtles Bar and Grill. My last job I have ever had was at a McDonalds again at the Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport. 
During that time I was living with my brother. I lost my job and was having a hard time getting a new one. I eventually had to move out of my brother's house and lived in a tent in Coon Rapids under some trees in between Towerview Park and the railroad tracks. It wasn't the best place, but I was able to hide there for a week before some friends from my church offered me a place to stay. I was glad to move. I didn't like the train at night. It went by every five minutes. Good thing there was never a horn. I would never get sleep.

I stayed with that family for two months before I got fed up with them and moved up to Duluth to start my life over again. While I was there, I moved into a boarding home called Arrowhead House. That was where I was on the phone with my mom. Mom told me that Sue had passed away a year earlier. I didn't even know that. It was hard to hear the sad news. 

One of Sue's Last Photo's Taken (2006)

We talked for a long time. While I was on the phone, I finally came out to my mom. I knew it was a good time to tell her, I really wanted to be a girl. My mom was so happy for me. Since she named me when I was a baby, I let her choose my first name. But I gave her a list of names to choose from. She chose the name Natasa, which was the name I hoped she would have chosen and I chose my middle name, Jessica. I decided to keep my old last name just because I didn't have the last name to choose. 
During the months, I was picked on my most of the people in the home. I asked them to call me Natasa, but they would always call me by the name I had been born with. 
While I was up in Duluth, I met a few friends there that were either Gay, Bisexual or Transgender.

Me (February 2009)

When I finally got my name changed, it was a relief. I would never have to use dead name again on legal documents. A month later, my mom and her partner (that she had at the time) Kathleen Matzke, came up to get me and took the long ride down to my sister's apartment in New Prague. I wasn't going to live in a closed-minded city any longer. I was there for just a few days trying to find a place to stay. When I did find a place, it was up in Eagan. I was there for almost a month. It was a nice house, but I couldn't find a job where they were at.

I moved in with a family in Minneapolis not far from my brother's house where I lived a year earlier. I went to church and met a bunch of people from the LGBT Community. Walked in the May Day Parade and even the Pride Parade.
I was so happy to finally be part of the community more. 

Me at Twin Cities Pride ( June 2009)

I wasn't able to live with the family anymore, so I ended up moving back with my sister. She wasn't the best to live with because her house was a mess.
I helped clean it up, but her caretaker was a jerk and kicked her out anyway. She and I moved into her friend's house but was kicked out a month later for me arguing with him.

Eventually, I moved into Dorothy Day Center in St. Paul. A homeless shelter.
I remember everything.

Dorthy Day Homeless Shelter
 (No Longer There)

On November 17th of 2009, at about 9:30 that night, I walked into that building for the first time. I was scared. I didn't know if anyone would treat me with respect. I was worried that someone would find out I was born a male, even though I identified as female. I wake up about 5:30 since the lights go on then. Everyone must get off their mats at 6:00 and out of the building at 6:30.

That night around the same time as the first, when trying to get a mat, one of the workers was suspicious and asked me to go to a room and talk to them. They wanted to know if I were a female. She knew I was transgender, even after showing my I.D. and everything, but she let me go back in the woman's section anyway. Because state law says that if the I.D. Says I am female, they can't say anything.

Inside The Shelter

I still had to deal with the residents. Using the woman's restroom was hard enough. I walk in very cautiously, no one cared. (Except a few.) There were a few men at DDC that weren't nice. I was called a Fag many times. They thought I was Gay.
I met a friend named Steve there. He helped me out a lot. He didn't care if I was transgender. He saw a beautiful young lady in me and treated me with respect. I also got my first boyfriend there. Which I wasn't with long. He left me and went with another woman. I was suicidal at the time and was sent to the hospital for a few days. That was during Christmas.

The next few months were hard on me. Winter started. I wasn't ready for it. Leaving the building was hard on me. I was cold all the time. Me and a bunch of friends, including Steve, would have to walk the skyway in Saint Paul to keep warm. No stopping at all. Just keep walking. It wasn't really fun. However, the only time we were able to stay warm, and rest was either at the Library or Listening house.

Winter felt like it was going to slow. I was glad when Spring came, but it was still too cold for me. I wished that I would have found a good place to live beside DDC. I hated doing the same thing every day. Wake up, have breakfast at a food kitchen, go to the skyway, food kitchen for Lunch, Library, food kitchen for dinner Listening House, back to DDC. It wasn't a great time in my life.

While I was there, a false "money hungry", Christian Ministry, got me out of the shelter and into a home. They didn't know I was transgender until the next day. However, they allowed me in there for a little while. I eventually was forced to leave. I went back to the shelter. Steve noticed I was there again and helped me out again. He didn't want me to get cold during the winter seasons, so he helped me by bringing me through the St. Paul Skyway for breakfast every day. On the weekends, we went to a hotel. He said the less time I was in the shelter, the better.

On July 4th, 2011, I finally got out of the shelter. My friend Steve helped me by paying for a hotel in Burnsville at the Intown Suites. During that time, Steve was sent to prison for a probation violation. (I am not saying why he is on probation) So for 90 days, I was in the hotel. I helped him, and I move into the Sandalwood Studios and Suites in Shakopee. It was closer to the Court House he needed to go to.

Me in 2011

I stayed in the hotel for almost a year. At that time, I got a boyfriend. Finally, I got tired of living in a hotel and got help with the county. They helped me get into public housing. I didn't even have to go on a waiting list. I moved into an apartment in Chaska, not far from Shakopee. I told my boyfriend he was told he was not allowed to stay in my apartment, but he did anyway. He almost got me kicked out. After almost two years of being with him, I got tired of his attitude and eventually dumped him.

My Cats Helena and Meow Lo Ren

As for right now, I am still living in the apartment I have two cats, and draw a comic called Lavender, about a transgender girl and also go to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester each month to get ready for many surgeries in the upcoming future. I hope to eventually get out of the apartment and into a house, where I won't have any nosy neighbors looking through my windows all the time