For years, Mikaela Taylor struggled with an identity she knew was not authentic. It led to years of drug and alcohol abuse, battles with depression and anxiety and a loss of self. Even as she led a life as a man, Mike Taylor, on Kerrville radio station Mike-FM, formally announced her true self on Tuesday.
During her podcast, which she co-hosts with John Barrera, Taylor said she’d known her true sexual identity since she was a teenager but was afraid to admit it to anyone.
“I was ashamed of it because I was afraid of the repercussions,” Taylor told John Barrera, who hosted the podcast episode.
Taylor, who is married with five children, told his family in December about her decision to begin the hormonal process of becoming a woman. The confession was her greatest fear.
“That was my biggest fear was losing my wife and kids,” Taylor said. “My wife saw what I was going through. She saw the depression and the anxiety.”
Taylor, 38, is one of the more recognizable figures in local media, not only hosting a morning radio show but the founder of the popular Kerrville Breaking News page on Facebook. Taylor said her lighthearted role as a morning radio host led some people to believe she was joking when she changed her name to Mikaela.
“I’ve probably lost some Facebook friends over this,” said Taylor, adding that didn’t matter because she had the support of her friends and family.
Through the course of her life, Taylor said she struggled with her identity and that it was apparent to her first wife and to her current wife. There were times when she never felt comfortable and was never in public.
“I was uncomfortable at looking at people in the eye,” she said.
Transgender people are prone to depression and Taylor said 41% of transgender people attempt suicide.
“Those are what we know of,” she said. “What about the people that were afraid to come out and never told anybody? I guarantee you there are a lot more people, that know, but they’re afraid to say anything.”
Saying anything personally haunted Taylor since she was a teenager.
When Taylor was 19, she boarded a Greyhound bus in St. Louis, Mo., and came to Texas.
“I didn’t know where to go or what to do,” said Taylor, who grew up in Missouri. “I thought if I went to Texas and I was thinking about how awesome it would be to transition then at 19. There was still that fear. I could be 1,000 miles away from home. People at home would never know. Those were the thoughts that I had. I got down here and with people, I didn’t even know.”
It took another 19 years before Taylor began to open up about her identity. In November, Taylor began telling some of his closest friends about her decision to transition.
Even in a conservative community, Taylor said she already feels supported and believes there is strength in Kerr County’s LGBTQ community. What turned out to be the most challenging conversation was with her parents.
“The last person I wanted to hurt was my dad and it wasn’t an easy thing for him,” Taylor said. “I don’t know if he’s fully accepted it yet but we’re on speaking terms.
Barrera asked Taylor if she thought she would be shunned.
“I expected the full rocks and beer bottle treatment everywhere I went,” she said. “I was terrified. I was absolutely terrified of what would happen.”
She followed that with a discussion with JAM Broadcasting owners Leslee and Justin McClure.
While Taylor said his parents didn’t fully understand her decision, he felt entirely supported by them and the McClures.
“I didn’t want to do anything that would hurt JAM Broadcasting,” Taylor said. “They said you’re family.”
Taylor said Tuesday’s emotionally-driven podcast was terrifying but uplifting.
“I would say over 100 times a day; I would get derailed by this,” Taylor said. “It’s not something there is a cure for. It’s not something that you can take a drug to cure. After all of the research, I came down to embrace who you are. We’re all unique. Once I accepted that and accepted who I’m, and the thought of transitioning and coming out was easier. Before, I was living in hell personally.”