Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Coming Out: My Friend Vicki

I asked my good friend if she would like to share her story. She gladly accepted. I think sharing our stories helps people understand that we aren't alone. It also shows that each of us are on our own road with our own obstacles but we can do it. Anyway. her is here coming out story:

Coming out as a transsexual woman was difficult. For me there were several phases. Some were more difficult than others. A friend asked me to keep this under a thousand words. I'll try. lol

The first part was accepting myself for who I am. This was one of the more difficult phases. I grew up in the 70s. It was before the internet existed. There was very little information about it. What little I did know was that if I were to attempt to transition then, I would have been a prostitute. I really didn't like that idea so I tried very hard to suppress it. I overcompensated and did some very masculine things. I married, I had kids. I tried coming out to my wife, but I had no idea what was going on with me. She saw me as some sort of pervert. It was part of the reason my marriage ended.

During my divorce my gender dysphoria became very intense. I still tried denying it to myself. I finally ended up cross dressing and going to transgender friendly events. Finding events like that was difficult at the time, but I finally managed to find places to go. This is when I finally came out to myself. I met a transsexual woman who saw the real me and accepted me for who I am. Prior to that, I was wanting to die. I would have died if she hadn't helped me. She was my only friend at the time. So this is when I came out to my friends.

I started seeing a psychologist after this, but not only for my gender dysphoria. When I finally decided to tell her what was going on with me, it took me at least five minutes before I could get the words out. She said she was relieved. She was happy that I didn't have cancer. That's when I started to really deal with this issue. I had another major unrelated family issue going on then so my transition was delayed quite a bit while I dealt with that. That's another story. 

Coming out to the rest of the medical community was next major phase. I had a male doctor. He had been nice to me until I came out. After that his whole demeanor changed. I came out to him because I wanted him to refer to me to an endocrinologist, the specialists for transsexual hormone replacement therapy. He gave me the referral. It was another male doctor. When I called his office to make the appointment, his receptionist was very rude. When I finally saw the endocrinologist he refused to treat me. He asked me a lot of questions that were more appropriate for a mental health specialist. He stopped that once I offered to provide him with a letter from my therapist recommending HRT. He was looking for excuses not to treat. He finally said he wasn't comfortable treating transsexuals. He refused to treat me. Rather than make a complaint, I waited until open season with my work. I changed my insurance to a fee for service provider rather than the hmo I had. I was then able to seek out treatment from the clinic at the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center. Several of my friends recommended Dr Madeline Deutsch. Even when  I came out to her she asked if I were dating. I told her I had a girl friend and her daughter living with me. She said, “Let me guess, they don't know.” I told her of course they did. I also offered to provider her with a letter from my psychologist, but she said it wasn't necessary, because I had been self-treating. I don't recommend self-treating, but seeing the crap I went through to get treatment, I hope you don't blame me.

The next major coming out was to my Mom. She was my only living relative that I was afraid to tell. I really didn't care what any of my other relatives thought. I took my Mom out to a nice restaurant when I told her. Again I couldn't speak for what seemed like 10 minutes to me, but really was probably only five. When I told her I was so happy to find out that she was supportive!  She didn't quite understand, but that came later. I don't remember how many months passed, maybe years, before I could tell my Mom prior to that. I had told my two teenage sons long prior to this moment. They didn't understand. I don't think my eldest ever accepted me. My youngest did, but again he didn't understand it.

The next big step was coming out at work. I came out to my boss first. I didn't like my boss at the time. He had been treating me like crap. I sent him a letter on April Fools day coming out to him. I regret doing it on that day. It takes away from the seriousness of it. He called me shortly after that. He was angry at first. I suppose because he wasn't sure if I were joking or not. Once he realized I was serious, he became one of the best bosses I ever had. I was very lucky.

Still I waited a year and a half before I finally decided I needed to come out to my co-workers. That was an ordeal. I contacted my local LGBT employee group and joined them. They put me in contact with a straight cisgender female manager, Celeste, that was also a member. I was very pleasantly surprised by her level of understanding of my situation. I also came out to my Human Resources department. They weren't quite sure what to do. I know they must have dealt with other transsexual women in the office. I wasn't the first so I was a little surprised. Yet they were very supportive too. Celeste and I worked with my boss and HR to come up with a plan on how to handle the situation. It was decided that they would brief 40 of my co-workers and local managers on my situation. They didn't want me present for the briefing to allow people to ask the inappropriate questions. They scheduled the meeting a week advance. I had people asking me if I knew what it was about. I lied and said no. Management flew Celeste in t  o give the briefing. She worked in another state, Oklahoma of all places. After the briefing she asked me if I wanted to leave the office. I could hear some people laughing from my cubicle. I knew that it was about me. She took me to her hotel and gave me a leotard, that served as a swim suit. I looked really androgynous at the time, I had a b-cup. As a result I hadn't been to a public pool in years. I am so grateful to her. We're friends now and chat once in a while. There have been little bumps at work since then, but so far work has been good. A week after coming out to my co-workers I started living full-time, even at work.

I have been living full-time as a female for over a year since coming out at work. There have been a few obstacles, but I'm overcoming them one-by-one. I feel very fortunate and privileged. I know many other girls have lives much harder than mine. I feel like my story is the one people want to hear. Those girls less fortunate than I are invisible. I feel a little embarrassed to tell my story, because of that. Please think about them when you read my story.


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