Digital Transgender Archive

Interview with Gaebriel Lyrek

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Gaebriel Lyrek identifies as a straight male and was assigned female at birth. He grew up in Montrose, Minnesota on a dairy farm in the middle of a cornfield and went to school in Buffalo, Minnesota. He has 8 younger brothers and an older sister. His birth mother had him when she was 15, and as a child he lived with her in an apartment above a dentist shop. His birth mother later left him with her current husband at the time who he still considers to be his dad. He hasn’t seen his birth mother since. He was picked on in school for being a farm kid and was also held back in kindergarten since his teachers believed he needed to understand the fundamental differences between boys and girls. He demanded one of his teachers to call him Christopher and didn’t understand why he couldn’t run around without a shirt on like the boys. Seeing himself as a farm boy, he would sneakily stuff a rolled-up sock in his pants when he would go milk the cows. He also wore boy’s clothes, wanted to shop in the boy’s section at stores, and wanted to cut his hair off. He was outed as a lesbian by a friend of his when he was 15. Even though the label felt like a gross misrepresentation to Lyrek, he attempted to embrace it since he thought maybe it was a word you just had to get used to using. It was also the closest word that he had to describe himself at the time. He fully embraced being a ‘90s riot grrrl dyke and shaved his head. His dad was physically and mentally abusive, leaving Lyrek feeling angry all the time. He was suspended around 5 times in school for getting into a lot of fist fights. Onetime Lyrek had fifth degree assault charges pressed against him that were later dropped for breaking a guy’s nose on his bus after the guy outed another student he called a faggot. He moved to Minneapolis, Minnesota after graduating high school in 1999 and attended St. Catherine University, at the time an all-girls Catholic school. He met another trans person for the first time when he ran into a female to male Minneapolis police officer. Even though he heard about trans women all the time, often in derogatory terms, it never occurred to Lyrek that transitioning to male existed until then. Lyrek asked him a bunch of questions and then spent the next year and a half researching the internet about it. Lyrek’s partner at the time asked him if he wanted to be a guy, and, in the back of his head he was telling himself to say no but then said, “Yeah, I do.” He was also a male drag performer at the time, and his partner may have noticed how he was taking on more of the character’s traits in his daily life that he performed on stage. He decided he needed to tell his parents and siblings before taking steps to physically transition. Most of his siblings were supportive but one of his brothers didn’t speak to him for 5 years since he was religious and believes Lyrek is going to hell as a sinner. His dad responded well and refers to him as his son. His mom tried talking him out of it every step of the way. He started testosterone in 2005, had top surgery in 2007, a hysterectomy in 2013, and a phalloplasty in 2015. He got a blood clot in his groin where the vein was grafted to his femoral artery during his phalloplasty, cutting off the blood supply to his penis and killing about a third of his urethra. He ended up losing an inch and a half of length during surgery to correct it. He had his tenth surgery to correct his urethra so he could stand to pee. He has a 10-year-old daughter from a 15-year marriage. He’s now divorced and in another relationship with a cis woman. He doesn’t identify with straight culture, but he likes women and identifies as male.

Item Information:

Audio and Video Clips and Transcripts
Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection, University of Minnesota
Lyrek, Gaebriel
Jenkins, Andrea
University of Minnesota Minneapolis Libraries
Date Created
Aug. 7, 2017
Oral Histories
Minnesota > Wright > City of Montrose > Montrose
Assigned gender
Child abuse
Gender identity
Gender realignment surgery
Health insurance
Partners (LGBTQ)
Passing (gender)
Resource Type
Moving image
Related URL
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