Joel Evan Tye graces magazine covers and makes appearances around the country today. But it wasn’t always this glamorous for the native Arizonan. From a repressed, socially abused and confused boy, who refused to speak to anyone for many years, sprang a powerful man who sings, acts, and models professionally. Through spiritual power, hard work and determination, Joel Evan Tye transformed his body, mind and soul into the man he always wanted to be, but was afraid to become. Tye’s story is one of finding self-love and acceptance miraculously.
During Tye’s childhood, he grew up believing that he just wasn’t good enough because he was forced to adhere to gender conditioning. His memories are haunting melodies that still play in his mind and consciousness to this day. Tye must work to continually silence the negative voices and oppressive gender identification messages which still ring in his head.
Tye grew up in a normal family, but his personality traits were far from what most consider the norm. At a very young age, Tye was intrigued by the things that are associated with girls and had no interest in things that were associated with being a boy.
“I was not allowed to have certain things my sister had – beautiful clothes, dolls, jewelry – all of those things girls get, because I was a boy,” states Tye. “I was angry that I wasn’t a girl…I was a boy, and boys were somehow undeserving of certain things just because they were boys, no other reason.”
Out of the anger, Tye developed a mental obsession with obtaining these items labeled as feminine while also consciously and unconsciously building a stronger effeminate character. He would fantasize about wearing beautiful women’s clothes and when no one was around, try on jewelry.
“I somehow developed mannerisms, body languages, and vocal tones similar to a girl. I would take my sister’s things and hide them in my closet. I’ve never been someone to accept what I was told, even as a young child I could never stick to the rules. But of course, those who don’t follow the rules always have to pay the price. In this case it wasn’t from the authority figures of the time, but from my own peers.”
Tye’s parents did try to guide him and warn him about the norms of society and the consequences he might suffer if he continued acting as a girl into his teens. Often teased and taunted by other children, Tye became known as “the boy who talks like a girl.”
“I didn’t know why I had such a high voice or why I liked to skip and scream really loud or why I cried when I didn’t like something or why neither the girls nor the boys liked me. I was just, so not like either of those two groups. That was the start of the realization that my silence was the answer to cope. Sometimes it was accepted and it was my victory. Other times, the lack of an answer or response led to physical assault. I was taunted and beat up quite often.”
As painful and humiliating as the taunting and harassment became, Tye never stopped or made any attempt to assimilate himself. In fact, he went further into his own world to keep people away.
“In my childhood I did have a few friends here and there. Sometimes, I would even try to convince my female friends that I was a girl, just so I could play with their toys and dress-up costumes. It did get harder as I grew older though. ‘The boy who talks like a girl’ became harder and harder to befriend because he just got weirder and weirder in the eyes of the other maturing children. I found though that there was one person that didn’t mind the ‘boy who talked like a girl’ no matter how old he became. That person was me.”
Tye became more and more introverted, spending way too much time by himself because when I was alone, he could do anything he wanted without anyone’s judgment. However, as Tye grew older, puberty became his worst enemy.
“The thing about puberty is, when your voice drops, talking in your head voice becomes almost impossible. I never learned to talk in my chest voice like a normal person does. I spoke in my head voice, or falsetto. Like other boys, my voice was changing, but I didn’t know how to change with it. I didn’t want a new deep voice. The idea of becoming more like a man frightened me. I didn’t want to be a man.”
Tye’s parents tried to understand. His mother would often say to him, “Just talk normal,” which he hated. He struggled and became angrier with the fact that he was being asked to assimilate and become like everyone else. Rebellion consumed Tye’s persona and at the age of twelve, he refused to speak to anyone.