Herd Member | Asher Woodbury

Hey everyone, my name is Asher and I’m a 26 year old trans man from the Chicagoland area. I own a 16 year old OTTB named Rascal, or Resilience, who I’ve had for almost 13 years. I have bachelors degrees in criminal justice as well as psychology, though I currently work in pharmaceutical returns. My passion is in working with minority groups (forensic populations as well as LGBTQ populations) and I have recently felt called to complete my masters in psychology. 
When Forest approached me about being an ambassador for HofZ and to write a blog post, I jumped at the opportunity. I want to be a voice for those that don’t have the ability to speak, to be a resource for others struggling with difficulties in their lives. For me, being transgender was not something I had considered. I grew to hating myself, but I thought that if I could change things I would like myself. I went through style after style, struggles with body image and anorexia, severe OCD and anxiety, and major depression, but I still felt that if I could just be “pretty enough” I would be able to be okay with myself. I don’t want to bore any of you with a lot of detail, but my junior year of college I started working with a phenomenal OCD therapist. A few months after we started working together, I shared with him that I resented being female. I told him that if I had a choice, I would have been born a boy, a million times over. We discussed transitioning and if I had considered it or would consider it, to which I said no, I just needed to learn to accept myself as a female. 
Skipping forward three more years, I was in grad school taking a minority studies course when we began discussing gender. It was then that I started to realize that my therapist may not have been so far off with his question to me about transitioning. Later that year, I began to discuss transitioning with him, and on December 27, 2017 I began taking testosterone to transition from female to male. 
To be completely honest, things were difficult. My family did not accept me at all, they were completely opposed to my transition. Luckily I had friends and extended family that supported me, so I pushed on. Unfortunately life in the equine community was not all that positive for “someone like me”. I was afraid to come out at the barn, my trainer had known me for 12 years as a female and I was so terrified of her reaction. I kept it to myself, only sharing it with a few close friends at the barn. 
I
Despite this, as I've found to be common in the equestrian community, word spread, and a parent of a fellow student at the barn went to a trainer who went to my mom, stating that multiple people were uncomfortable with “someone like me” being around their children, and that they did not want their kids exposed to that (by kids we are talking teenagers, sophomores through seniors in high school). It was hard for me when I heard that. I hadn’t even spoken to any of the people involved about my transition. 
I’ll be honest, I was afraid of being asked to leave the barn, to lose what I had there with relationships, to be alone yet again. However, at my six months on testosterone anniversary, I officially came out as Asher. I shared a post on Facebook, as I was very embarrassed to come out in person (most of the times I did were received horribly). Everyone who responded was so positive and so accepting. It felt great to be accepted by a large group of people that I cared about. After that day, my trainer began referring to me as Asher, writing that down in the book for lessons, and on the lesson board. It was such a freeing feeling. 
A few months later, in the best interest of Rascal, I moved him to a new barn. He just never thrived in a busy show barn atmosphere, and I found an amazing facility with a ton of land, a quiet environment, and great care. I introduced myself as Asher, and it was incredible to know that I was far enough along that no one questioned my status as a male. It felt great to be accepted as I was, no questions asked. 
I am out now to most of my fellow barn mates, as I have not deleted any of my female history on social media, and I’m not ashamed of being trans. As far as riding goes, it has not slowed me down a bit. I’ve done several clinics since I came out, all of which went wonderfully. I haven’t shown since 2016, due to an injury Rascal had (though you’d never know it now). I did have to take a month off when I had top surgery (double mastectomy and chest masculinization) in November 2018, but it was a breeze and I got right back into the swing of things when I was cleared to ride. 
Honestly, I think transitioning has improved my riding (as well as the rest of my life). I don’t struggle with depression and anxiety like I used to. I like who I see when I look in the mirror. I’m more confident in myself, and in turn, mental health does not hold me back from going to the barn, from riding, from participating in lessons and clinics. I had such a deep dislike for myself prior to transitioning and I felt so inadequate. It was hard to take lessons, to do clinics, even to ride when other people were at the barn. I felt like I was always being judged, and that others saw me the way I saw myself. Being able to live authentically has brought me to a new level of peace and joy, and the only thing I would change about it would be how long it took me to realize I am trans and to begin my transition. 
I can live my life now. I am finally Asher and live my life 110% as male. I cannot imagine life any longer as a female and I feel blessed that it’s the 21st century and medical procedures are available for people like me to live authentic lives.