Pose star Hailie Sahar recalls not wanting to "bring shame" upon her family with her sexual identity and credits her mother with giving her the courage to become the woman she was meant to be.
Sahar, the child of a Baptist preacher in Los Angeles, transitioned from a boy to a transgender girl when she was a teenager. On an episode of E!'s Just the Sip, released on Wednesday, she talked about her "extremely hard" decision.
"The beautiful thing is that I have my mother to thank," the 31-year-old actress told Justin Sylvester. "My parents were divorced when I was about 1 years old, and my mother is the example of what I would call perfection, if there was such a thing as perfection in a human. My mother lives by love and just embracing who you are, as long as you're not hurting anyone, so I had that as an example. As I got a little older, I started to pay attention to more to that, rather than the structure of the church."
"Rather than, this is what you should do or you shouldn't do or you're going to Hell, I started to pay attention to who God really is, and God is love, and my mother demonstrates love," Sahar said. "And so I was like, huh, I want to be like her. I want to live like that. And so, with that, I had more of a freedom to express myself and to be my authentic self and it's thanks to my mom, my mommy."
Growing up as a transgender female in a religious family wasn't easy.
"You have to take into accountability [you're a] teenager and I come from a very strict Baptist family," Sahar said. "I didn't want to bring shame upon my family and I didn't want to be condemned. I knew that I was a good person and so that was very challenging for me."
"I actually ran away when I was a teenager and put my mom through so much," she said. "But I was trying to find myself and I was trying to get away from that strict teaching that my father's side of my family was instilled in me, and not to say anything bad about them, because I love my family, but it was a lot of pressure on me, and my mother's voice was in my head, and my personal love for God was in my heart, and I understood who Good is on a personal level, and I knew that God made me who I am. I realized one day that God loves me and God is love, and love does not judge, love is pure, and love is kind."
She added, "So it was those things that I had to recondition with my thinking to accept, and once I did that, I courage to be myself and in that process—and I'm still in that process—I started to own that and what that looks like and what that means for me, and telling myself, this is my life, and I'm gonna live my life the way I want to live it and I'm in control of it."
When asked when she realized she was not gay, but rather a woman, Sahar said, "I remember dreaming that I was conceiving a child, at a very young age, when my brain could understand what it meant that women could have children, I remember dreaming that I was gonna be a mother, and I remember waking up and I would call for my mom and I'd be crying and realized at that moment, I wasn't gonna be able to do one of the things that my heart wanted to do."
"Still to this day, I have difficulties accepting that," she said. "But just everything about having nothing to do with my sexual preference but everything to do with my comfortability."