As most transgender/transsexual individuals, I knew there was something different about me, but could not quite put my finger on what “It” was. I grew up with a normal childhood in the sense, 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 the form, the fashion, womanhood in general. Through my teenage years and into high school, the attraction grew naturally and fiercely. Up to this point, I had not been in a romantic relationship
At the beginning of my sophomore year in high school, I met my future wife. 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 were engaged a year later. Although we appeared to be a normal couple, I still had this internal struggle of not being able to reveal my true self. We married in 1993 and had our daughter in 1995. 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 had an obligation to them, I did not because they were my close family. There are 7 of us in the household now. Mom, Dad, 2 sisters, myself, and 2 dogs.
Fast forward to 2018, it has been 31 years since we came into each other’s lives. I know some of you out there are attempting to do the math on how old I am, LOL. In a minute, we will see if you are right. Sure, we had our ups and downs, but remain a strong close-knit family. Still, I felt alone, still 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 a simple but complicated.
In November 2018, I decided I was tired of hiding my true self, tired of living a lie, tired of being depressed; and felt the world was ready for me and I was ready for them! I first revealed my true self to my family since we all live 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/transsexual is, the differences and how gender identity is separate from sexual orientation which is separate 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 one in the same. I guess, by appearance since I like and want to be with women, I would be considered lesbian. But after a 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 are not able to 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 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 was sinking in and she was struggling coming to terms with my transition. For the past 23 years, she has known me as dad. Her rock, her role model, her hero. I reassured her that I am still here, I still have my memories; although my outward appearance now matches my internal view of myself, I will still be her rock, her role model, and her hero. It’s been a few months since my reveal to family and they are acclimating 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 mis-gendered in public I calmly correct them or let it go, depending on the situation. I get correctly gendered as female 99% of the time. My voice used to bother me, A LOT! and adds to the mis-gendering. However, many people have said my voice is not overly masculine or feminine, kinda in between. They also say it's smooth and silky, like a radio voice. So, I guess I will keep it LOL In December 2018 of that year 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 physically be the woman I have always been mentally. 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, 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 very comfortable talking with 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 very well and said you are still you and I still love you! I then came out to the rest of the team and was met with the same love. I proceeded to move up the chain to my leadership and again met with the same love. I can’t tell you the immense feeling I had for the love and support from all my colleagues.
I then proceeded to reach to Human Resources to find the best mechanism to let whole firm know. Since there is 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 want to ask me, to reach out. In January of 2019, I attended the inaugural Inclusion Summit at work and the conclusion of 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 from word of mouth. I have not encountered any negativity or distaste from anyone inside or outside of my workplace. Sure, during my first few months transitioning I got confuse 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 conceal carry permit; with my new name and gender marker! The only document I can’t change, at the time of this writing, is my birth certificate. My birth state, at this time, does not allow this to be changed.
In July 2019, I moved from my current US team and joined our Global team and moved the whole family 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% the past 10 years, I now commute into the office, 3 days a week. I love it! It’s now April 2020 and I continue to externally grow into the woman I have always seen myself as internally. I met with my doctor and discussed top and bottom surgery. He said I am a good candidate for both due to both my physical and mental state. It’s scheduled for for the end of June 2020, provided the world doesn’t implode due to the COVID-19. In closing, as I come up on my 2 year transversary and I look in the mirror, I see the person who had been hiding out, patiently waiting for her turn at the World.