|In Washington D.C. in front of the|
Capitol on lobby days for NCTE.
I asked myself a simple question after my father’s funeral. “You have just written three eulogies for people you loved reflecting on their lives… How do you wish to be remembered when your time comes? –as Melissa or this other person I have pretended to be during my “life” to hide her from the world.
A few weeks later I began searching for a therapist to work with and began the process of transitioning. I knew the process would not be easy and that it would take some time but I was determined to begin the process despite the risks and the costs and I am not just speaking of financial ones! The other costs were far more painful.
I learned a lot from them over the years. Some of these people were: Stephanie Heck, Chloe Prince and Debbie Dunkle. I also read Jenny Boleyn’s book “She’s Not There”. However, the book which had the most profound impact on me was “Wrapped in Blue” by Donna Rose. I connected with her story and felt a good deal of overlap with my story. Donna is down to earth and I enjoyed meeting her after I transitioned.
|Taken hours after her facial surgery in|
Boston with Dr. Spiegel in January of 2009.
Now you may not lose all of these things yourself BUT you had better be prepared to do so or you should not do so!” When the need to come out and begin living life in your true essence overcomes fear of these risks you know you are ready. I hoped for the best.
Rights and dignity will eventually come for all transgenders but clearly the situation is not there now. Transgender women face some acceptance problems by some sis gender women and phobias by many men. This has created additional problems for transgender women but education and continued activism will keep us moving forward over time.
Our brothers and sisters in the LGB communities have fought for equality and are making inroads in areas like same gender marriages and DADT removal. The next logical frontier for human rights is transgenders. I look forward to doing my small part to keep the struggle going. No one is free until all free!
|A few months after her GRS with Dr. McGinn|
in Philadelphia as she got prepared for her first
day of teaching classes on her new job in 2009.
Jared did a pretty good job of playing the role of a transgender sex worker from that time period depicted in the movie. He is an actor and as such it was a role for him – a role for which his peers recognized his talent and work. There are good stories out there in books and some films.
We do share a common ground though- we are both discriminated against for being who we are as people and that should not happen. We can accomplish more working together to obtain the rights we already hold but have been systematically denied by our opponents in this country which primarily operate by spreading fears. The so called “bathroom” issue is a perfect example of such hate and fear.
|Her Michigan vacation in fall of 2011.|
Activists like Janet Mock are powerful and I love her work but we do not need to rely solely on a single leader to do the work we all should be doing. What would serve us best are more voices and more activism and educating.
|Getting fitted for her wedding dress|
before her marriage in fall of 2009.
I love purple and lavender as well as earth tone colors. I learned a great deal about accessories from observing my mother when I was young!
I currently use my culinary talents to help prepare meals for the homeless and those in homeless shelters and I will want to do more of that as well as other outreach work to better the communities I live and work in. I did a lot of this as well in my “other life” so it has always been a significant part of my life and journey and always will. Maybe I will write that book. I know Paula and I would like to travel more as well as we love visiting new places and experiencing life! I have made it to 48 out of 50 states.
|With Paula outside her church in Spring of 2010.|
Don’t ever consider taking your life from us because we need you and we value who you are and can be! I encourage you to seek out friends in the community and find a therapist who you feel comfortable with and find your path. No two transitions are the same and should not be.
We are unique even in our little community. It is so worth it that if I was given a chance to do it all over again I would still come out and transition despite the results I experienced for I love living my live now everyday as Melissa and that makes it all worthwhile- it truly does!