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My Trans-Journey to Womanhood

Updated: Oct 14, 2022

Once upon a time, in a galaxy far, far away, there was a boy who knew there was something different about herself but could not quite put the finger on what “It” was. I grew up with a normal childhood; my parents did not try to steer me in a particular gender direction. I had a lot of friends who were female and very few male friends. I played with dolls and played in the dirt. I have always been drawn to the female side all my life. Not just sexually but also in form, fashion, and womanhood. The attraction grew naturally and fiercely throughout my teenage years and into high school. Up to this point, I had not been in a romantic relationship.

I met my future wife at the beginning of my sophomore year in high school. We continued to date through high school and beyond. In January 1991, I moved out of my parent’s house and into her parent’s house, and we were engaged a year later. Although we appeared to be an average couple, I still had this internal struggle of being unable to reveal my true self. We married in 1993 and had our daughter in 1995. However, I never talked to my wife about my internal feelings and struggles for fear of losing her.

In 2007, I lost her anyway as she passed away from complications related to her disability, Spina Bifida. Although I could have moved out, I did not. Not because I could not live on my own or be obligated to them, I did it because they were my chosen family. There are 7 of us in the household now—mom, Dad, two sisters, myself, and one dog.

Fast forward to 2018; it has been 31 years since we came into each other’s lives. I know some of you are attempting to do the math on how old I am, LOL. In a minute, we will see if you are right.

We had our ups and downs but remain a strong, close-knit family. Still, I felt alone, living a lie; to myself, my family, my friends, and my coworkers. Some asked, why at age 47, are you coming out now? The answer is simple but complicated.

In November 2018, I decided I was tired of hiding my true self, living a lie, and being depressed, and I felt the world was ready for me, and I was prepared for them!

I first revealed my true self to my family since we all lived together. The hardest part was getting the conversation going. As expected, I was flooded with questions like: Have you always felt this way? Did your wife know, why now, are you gay (I had to laugh to myself about this one and will expand on it in a minute), and the list goes on?

I first had to explain what transgender is, the differences, and how gender identity is separate from sexual orientation, which is different from the sex you are born into. This concept was the hardest to explain to my older sister. She couldn't separate sex from gender. To her, they are the same. I guess, by appearance, since I like and want to be with women, I would be considered lesbian. But after very lengthy discussions and late-night talks, I felt I was ready to move on to the next phase, telling my daughter.

This is not something that should be told via text or a phone call (unless you cannot be in person due to geography), but not over text! I invited her up to the house under the premise of having dinner. I hated to lie, but I did not want to start the conversation via text. At first, she was OK and asked questions. But as time went on over the next few days, it sank in, and she struggled to come to terms with my transition. For the past 23 years, she has known me as a dad. Her rock, her role model, her hero. I reassured her that I was still here and had my memories; although my outward appearance now matches my internal view of myself, I will still be her rock, role model, and hero. It’s been a few months since my reveal to my family, and they have acclimated themselves to the transition. Since I only slightly changed my name from JOE to JO/Joseph to Josephine, the name isn’t the issue; it’s he versus her, he’s versus she’s. But I correct them, and eventually, they will get it…I hope 😊.

If I get misgendered in public, I calmly correct them or let them go, depending on the situation. I get correctly gendered as female 99% of the time. My voice gives me away, which adds to the confusion. However, I like my voice, which is unique to me, and I decided not to change it. Most people, when I ask what you think of my voice, they say it is a lovely smooth, and soothing voice.

In December 2018, I began seeing a therapist to help navigate this uncharted course and began living as the woman I have always seen myself as, full-time. In January 2019, I started seeing an endocrinologist to start hormone replacement therapy and begin my journey to be the woman I have always been, mentally and physically. I started building my wardrobe and makeup collection, jewelry, and accessories. The hardest part of completing my wardrobe is finding shoes. Even for a man, my feet are large, size 15. But as a woman, they are gigantic, coming in at size 17!

Also, in January 2019, I began exploring the process of revealing my true self to my coworkers. I first reached out to my then-team lead. Our team is a close-knit work family, and I felt comfortable talking to them about anything. Since I couldn’t meet her in person, we had a phone conversation, and I told her about my transition. She took the news well and said you are still you, and I still love you! I came out to the rest of the team and was met with the same love. I moved up the chain to my leadership and again met with the same love and admiration. I can’t tell you the immense feeling I had for the love and support from all my colleagues.

I then contacted Human Resources to find the best mechanism to inform the whole firm. Since there was no set way to convey this news, it was up to me to figure out the best way. I decided the best way was to update my first name and picture on the company’s intranet and let those who wanted to ask me reach out. In January 2019, I attended the inaugural Inclusion Summit at work, and after the summit, I changed my first name and picture. I had quite a few people reach out, and again I was met with love. From there, the news spread by word of mouth. I have not encountered negativity or distaste from anyone inside or outside my workplace. Sure, during my first few months of transitioning, I got confused looks. But I also got some genuine smiles.

I have legally changed my name and gender and updated all work systems and healthcare. I have a new driver’s license, passport, and concealed carry permit; with my new name and gender marker! My birth certificate is the only document I can’t change at this time. My birth state, at this time, does not allow this to be changed.

In July 2019, I moved from my current US team, joined our Global team, and moved the whole family, except for my daughter, from Ohio to Virginia.

I also belong to an inclusion group at work, and we are currently working with leadership to bring policies up to date with the LGBTIA+ community. I am also getting involved with Inclusion efforts Globally. After joining Global, my family and I moved from the state we had lived all our lives to Washington, DC. After working from home 100% of the past ten years, I was commuting into the office three days a week and loved it! Hopefully, sometime in the near future, we can all return to our pre-COVID routines.

It’s now October 2020, and I am 4 months post-op, and finally, in the body, I have always internally seen myself as. But it doesn’t stop there, whether in our appearance, attitude, or love; we are all constantly transitioning.

In closing, I have been out to the World 2 years this month, and I look in the mirror, I see the person who had been hiding out, patiently waiting for her turn at the World.

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