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Walking in New Shoes

Walking in New Shoes

The Silvas are first-time parents, and their nine-month old son, Miles, is the light of their lives.

“Miles is delightful. I’m happy with the life I have now,” says Miranda Silva.

“I have a great family, a great son and great marriage that I probably wouldn’t have if I had transitioned when I was 20. I don’t regret waiting to transition because I wouldn’t have this beautiful baby,” says Silva, who is both the biological father and transgender mother of Miles.

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Ariel Silva, Miranda’s wife and Miles’ biological mother, met Miranda in Santa Clara High School many years before Miranda, who is now 33, came out as a transgender woman.

“We started dating after graduation–a spark ignited and we went from there. We’ve been married for six years and together for 13. I was afraid of losing her, so I used that as a reason not to come out,” says Miranda. “But finally, I came out to her on Valentine’s Day in 2013. She’s been a hundred percent supportive. She keeps me sane.”

“All I care about is what’s in your heart and your head. That’s all that matters to me. I’m okay with this. I’m fine,” Ariel told Miranda when she came out.

The catalyst for coming out was seeing the movie “Frozen” in November 2012. The lyrics of the song “Let It Go” kept replaying in Miranda’s mind: “It’s time to see what I can do/ To test the limits and break through/ No right, no wrong, no rules for me I’m free!”

“I thought about the song and decided to stop living a lie,” says Miranda. Early in 2013, she told Ariel that she liked wearing women’s clothing. She went on to say that she didn’t want just to dress like a princess but to be a princess.

“I wouldn’t have guessed, yet it wasn’t a total surprise,” says Ariel. “I was relieved. It put things in perspective. You could feel the truth of it.”

As a child, Miranda felt uncomfortable in her own body and socially awkward. In high school, Miranda tried drama.

“Acting–being in someone else’s body–made me feel comfortable. I knew something was different about me but didn’t know what. By late teens and early 20s, I dated and had a girlfriend. I experimented with men. I thought I was gay, but that wasn’t it. I made Internet searches and over time figured out what I was,” explains Miranda.

“Then I felt Catholic guilt; I felt ashamed,” says Miranda, who was born in the Portuguese Azores and came to the U.S. at three. “I thought, ‘I’m a freak. I can’t do this. I’m going to lose my whole family.’ I was no fun. It got worse. I had bouts of depression that were more frequent and lasted longer. You see, I was transgender and didn’t do anything about it. I was scared.”

After coming out to Ariel, Miranda came out to family then friends. Though her family was at first supportive, in practice it took about a year. Miranda’s parents needed time to grieve the loss of their son, who then changed his name to reflect a new identity.

“Once they realized they’re not bad parents for having a transgender child, it was much easier for them to accept the situation and move on. They just want me to be happy. It took a few awkward conversations and time,” explains Miranda. “With friends it was easy–all were supportive. I didn’t lose any friends over it. It didn’t matter their background–conservative to liberal, religious or not. I’ve been pretty lucky to live in a great place and have supportive friends and family.”

“I’m not trapped here. I’m here by choice. We’re still together because we love each other regardless of other situations,” says Ariel, who stays home to care for Miles. “I didn’t fall in love with a gender. I fell in love with a person. Some people assumed I wouldn’t want to stay together, but I’m just going to keep loving the person I love. We’re still married; we consider ourselves a lesbian couple.”

Miranda and Ariel socialize with other couples with babies. They share the cooking. They’re 49ers and soccer fans. They enjoy reading, movies, walking and playing video games together–“being in someone else’s shoes.”

Miranda has worked in the hotel industry since a month after high school graduation, first as a front desk agent and now as revenue and reservations manager. She continues to be valued for her job performance. She has just raised enough money on Go Fund Me to change her name legally. She takes hormones and may eventually consider surgery, but it’s an expensive process.

“Ever since I came out, I wanted to be the personal connection people have with the transgender community. For many people, I’m the first transgender person they know. I wanted to be a role model for what transgender people are. It’s different to see somebody famous like Caitlyn Jenner [former Olympian Bruce Jenner], than actually knowing and working with someone like me,” says Miranda.

“I’m just like other neighbors you have. I complain about my bills and go to work in traffic. I worry about having a safe environment for my kid. I’m just trying to live my life and be happy. In many ways the transition never ends, just like in life,” says Miranda, still breaking in her new shoes.

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