Sunday, 24 January 2021

Interview with Lucky Bradley


Monika: Today I am hosting Lucky Bradley, an American who has been an auditor at multiple governmental agencies, including the US Department of Defense. She is also a happy wife, and transgender woman that documents her transition on her blog ‘A Girl U Should Know’ and continues to be active on other social media. Before her transition, she had previously blogged on Accidentally Gay. She is also the co-author of Accidentally Gay: The True Love Story When a Wife Becomes a Husband. A book that detailed her experiences as a husband whose wife transitioned into her husband. Hello, Lucky!
Lucky: Hi Monika, It is great to meet you and be here.
Monika: Could you say a few words about yourself?
Lucky: I am a 49-year-old transgender woman married for 28 years to a fantastic transgender man. We live at home with our own little fur baby cat, Tally. I have been transitioning since mid-2018 and it has been a roller coaster. After a bunch of HRT level issues though I think I am at the halfway point of physical transition. I have worked in many governmental agencies as an auditor, and my hobbies include photography, gaming, writing, and other forms of storytelling.
Monika: Why did you decide to share your transition details on social media?
Lucky: I have always shared my life online, since the early days of Myspace and LiveJournal. My sharing of my life became even more frequent when my husband transitioned in 2013.
At the time I knew I also was transgender, but I didn’t believe I would ever be able to reach a place I was comfortable in transition, so I decided to not go through with it back then. This meant I would look for and needed other sources for cisgender appearing men who were undergoing their spouse’s transformation from wife to husband. I was surprised when I found that there were no resources out there. It appears to be very uncommon for someone who looks like a husband to stay with his spouse when they transition from female to male.
That made me decide I would specifically share my journey so a boyfriend/husband coming up behind me would at least see someone else who had done it before them. I could share with them what I learned, and maybe they wouldn’t make the same mistakes that I knew I would end up making. The sharing became even more regular after I started getting interviews with newspapers, podcasts and eventually wrote a book.
I just hope I can help someone out there when they start out on their journey, either as a spouse of someone transitioning and maybe for someone who themselves is transitioning.
Monika: Do you get many questions from your Reddit readers? What do they ask for? 
Lucky: I do get a lot of questions on Reddit and the other platforms. Unfortunately, many of them revolve around if I am keeping my original genitalia. I don’t have a problem specifically with this question, but the online space tends to be asked in a weird lecherous manner.
The other questions are usually how long have I been on HRT? About a year on a working dosage. Have I had surgeries? Yes, I have had multiple, including two different Facial Feminization Surgeries (one to shape bone, one to later shape the flesh), a breast augmentation surgery, and an orchiectomy.

Available via Amazon.

The other big question is if my spouse had a problem with my transitioning. I am a happy woman because he didn’t, he accepted me fully and in fact, he had been referring to me as his egg for a couple of years when I had never heard that term and never really understood why he was calling me that. It is probably for the best because he accepted me as well because he transitioned first 7 years ago from my wife to my husband, and it would be weirdly hypocritical for him to object.
Monika: What was the strangest question that you answered? :)
Lucky: The strangest question I had was a multiple-part question - “Why did you transition when your spouse already transitioned? That makes you Heterosexual again right? Why would you transition that way if you both end up in a heterosexual relationship where you started?”
I was a little shocked at the lack of understanding the person had on the difference between gender and sexual orientation. They kept asking me if my spouse was already transgender, wouldn’t my transition make the whole thing pointless since were now heterosexual again. I tried to explain that a person’s relationships do not dictate their gender, but they never got it. This seems to be a common misunderstanding.
Monika: We all pay the highest price for the fulfillment of our dreams to be ourselves. As a result, we lose our families, friends, jobs, and social positions. Did you pay such a high price as well? What was the hardest thing about your coming out?
Lucky: I lucked out on a personal level. My husband had transitioned years before me, and we had already walked the path of coming out with him. When he came out, we were surprised at how positive the reaction was overall. My parents had fully accepted him as their new son. Sadly, they passed before I came out, I like to think they would have been equally supportive of me. My siblings had a less overall positive reaction, but they didn’t bring it up much and my brother at least seemed to come around about it.
As for our friends we had an even more positive reaction. Our social group is very sex and gender-positive. The vast majority accepted my husband’s transition already. The ones that didn’t accept it had already been flushed out of our lives. This meant my personal relationships have gone positively with my social group.
Monika: From a professional point of view?
Lucky: The professional arena of my life is a lot more difficult. I work in a very conservative environment and professional niche. When I started my transition, I ended up losing the first three jobs I worked at.
I am a financial and contract auditor that worked for many different types of government agencies. When I first came out, I worked for the US Department of Defense, auditing defense contractors. It was lined up to be the best paying, best retirement job I would ever get without getting into an official political posting. Unfortunately, Trump was elected in 2016, and the policies he implemented to kick transgender troops out was also utilized on the civilian side.
There was no official rule that all transgender people had to leave, but they started dismantling the insurance, and transphobia was allowed to run rampant. Department of Defense management had been resistant to providing these services even under Obama. I had to fight human resources up to people in the actual Pentagon before they would give my husband transgender care before I came out. It was required by our state to be provided, but the federal level was the only entity immune to state laws.
I ended up leaving that position before officially transitioning. I knew I needed to transition, or I would kill myself, so I leaped out into the void of being unemployed. I know I made the right choice to not transition at that job because a few months after I left, I was talking to my old boss from that job. He was interested in hiring me back, but his first words were “You aren’t doing that transgendering thing still, are you?” When I said yes, he said that I wouldn’t be hireable. I told him my performance reviews were excellent, he said he knew that, but the management in my area wouldn’t hire me anyway.
Monika: How did you lose your second job?
Lucky: I lost a second job right after the DoD job. I got hired as an auditor for a local government. I hadn’t told them that I would be transitioning, mainly because I wasn’t visibly different, and I wanted to see how they were about LGBTQ issues. In the first two months of being there, I heard lots of Caitlyn Jenner jokes, lots of transphobic statements and the County Council refused to formally accept the updated Human Resources Manual to include transgender bathroom access.
This was because state law required all agencies to allow transgender individuals to use the restrooms of their appropriate identity. Many members of the Council knew they would have to allow it, but they were not willing to put it in writing to that effect, they were worried they would be “supporting the LGBTQ agenda”.
So, I immediately left that job and went to a state unemployment agency I worked for a few years before as an auditor supervisor (for auditors who review businesses’ books). That job was my shortest.

"My husband had transitioned years before me,
& we had already walked the path of coming out
with him. When he came out, we were surprised
at how positive the reaction was overall."

Monika: Did they know that you were transgender?
Lucky: Yes, they did. I was very clear with the state unemployment agency that while I still appeared very masculine, I was in the process of transition and that I would need eventually to have time off for the appropriate surgeries. They said they were fully accepting, and the management was part of the State government, that of course transgender people were fully accepted. They reiterated that the state of Washington not only mandated by law that I would be allowed to do that, and they put themselves forward as allies to the LGBTQ community. 
I was surprised and disappointed though at the day-to-day interactions with the actual agency workers. I got a lot of flak from the men who shared bathrooms with me (I wasn’t far enough into my transition then to comfortably walk into a woman’s bathroom). I then got my surgical dates for my first FFS surgery scheduled for six months later (I had already banked time off and would have more than enough by the six months).
Within 20 minutes of me asking to have those dates off in six months in the future, I had HR show up at my desk to fire me, and literally walk me out of the building without any warning.
Monika: How did you feel?
Lucky: I was surprised and crushed by this. I had just recently gotten my review and was told they were trying to push a 20% raise for me because of the experience. In addition, they had expanded my duties to help develop a new state agency’s policies and procedures with auditing.
I asked what I did wrong and they said because I was within my six months of probation that they didn’t have to tell me according to the union rules. They never did tell me why, and I am marked as left in good standing (I also got unemployment). The hardest thing about that was that I had to file for unemployment at the same agency I had worked at the following Monday.
Strangely enough, through a series of strange circumstances, I ended back up at the second job that I left (that was making fun of Caitlyn Jenner with the Council not voting on the HR manual). They had not been able to fill my position since I had left, and I was desperate to have a job, so I applied back with them and told them who I really was. They hired me almost immediately and they now know I am trans.
My department management has been incredibly supportive (there was a change in department leadership) and they have even brought in LGBTQIA advocacy groups to give classes on diversity for the others in my department and asked me to assist them in what they need to do to make our agency a welcome environment to LBGTQ+ people. I am hoping this works out. 
Monika: How about your social position?
Lucky: I didn’t lose any social status class/money-wise, but I was unprepared for the loss of social position with the public as a transgender woman, compared to when I appeared to be a cisgender male. I hadn’t realized because of my previous appearance how much lower status a woman has, and that doesn’t even count the even lower status a transgender woman has compared to cisgender women. I definitely lost status socially. I have a ton of stories I share with my friends and acquaintances all the time. Just the way people treat me walking down the street is shocking sometimes, even people I audit can be shocking. 
Monika: Are you satisfied with the effects of the hormone treatment?
Lucky: I am satisfied that I am finally on the correct path.
The first year I was on oral estrogen. My provider was a gatekeeper and wouldn’t increase my doses beyond a very low level and wouldn’t change the type of estrogen. By the end of my first year of HRT, my testosterone was actually higher than when I started to transition as a cisgender male. The worst part was that my estrogen levels were lower than as a cisgender male. I fought for a long time with my provider over upping my dosage or changing to something else. She wouldn’t budge.
I fired my provider, went to another provider specializing in hormones. They tripled my dose and my numbers still wouldn’t rise. I eventually got an orchiectomy and my numbers still didn’t get better with estrogen (at least the testosterone started to fall).
Eventually, he moved me to injectables (weekly), and 6 months after I started that (18 months after starting my transition) my estrogen numbers finally became a normal feminine level. It was the first blood test that was positive in 24 months. I am now coming in on one year on injectables and it is a world of difference. I know it’s working since my skin has finally softened and changed its consistency and my fat is starting to redistribute.
I am happy with where I am heading, but I am really only 12 months into HRT when I should be 30 months in.
 
Available via this link.
 
Monika: We are said to be prisoners of passing or non-passing syndrome. Although cosmetic surgeries help to overcome it, we will always be judged accordingly. How can we cope with this?
Lucky: I struggle with this all the time. I think the best way to cope is to understand that “passing” is actually a range, not a yes or no answer. Look around and you will see cisgender women who run the entire range of looking feminine to masculine. You see the same with cisgender men looking masculine to feminine. Try to remember that you are who you are, how you look to others isn’t the most important part. Although I will be honest and admit I also struggle even as I know this.
Just remember that gender is a spectrum. I 100% want to pass, but the odds at 6’2'' and transitioning so late in life I probably will never be 100%. Just try to remember it is a spectrum and it’s OK if you aren’t 100% in one direction, you are still valid and worthy of love.
Monika: Are there any transgender role models that you follow or followed?
Lucky: I don’t really have any public people as role models. I grew up in a very unique way. I learned fairly quickly to not want to mimic or hero-worship anyone I see on tv or read about. I do have a non-public person though that I am sure acts as a role model for me in the day to day living.
When I married my husband, he was my wife for 20 years before his transition. I know that many of my habits and behaviors have been modeled on him before he transitioned. It isn’t something I look to follow, but my wardrobe style, make-up, and behavior clearly reflect that he was a role model for me from his pre-transition time. I guess I sort of imprinted on his pre-transition person and style. However, I really like it so that won’t change. 
Monika: Do you remember the first time when you saw a transgender woman on TV or met anyone transgender in person?
Lucky: The first person I met that was a transgender person was a beautiful black woman named Rose when I was three. We lived on Capitol Hill in Seattle and she was the sister of some of the Black Panthers in the area. My parents were friends with them, and she would come over and babysit me, or walk my parents’ home from the bar when they were too intoxicated. I honestly never understood she was transgender, I just thought she was a wonderful woman who was kind. When I was slightly older, I learned what transgender women were and what made them different. Not once did it ever occur to me that genitals made a difference for who she was. 
Monika: What do you think about the present situation of transgender women in your country?
Lucky: I think overall it is starting to improve… even with how horrible Trump and the alt-right/MAGA faction were. My state has a lot of laws on the books to protect trans and nonbinary people, and while there is violence and definitely discrimination, it is less than it was for that reason. In my country overall though with the conservative backlash, it has become more dangerous, but if you can live in a blue area it is better.
I have a lot of hope for our future though. Younger transgender and nonbinary persons are far more accepted by the younger crowd. It makes me happy to see transgender children become the Prom King and Queen, and that students rise up to protect their transgender friends. It makes me hope that our younger siblings will have a better future than we had. We just have to get through the immediate future backlash from Trump voters to get there.

END OF PART 1

 
All the photos: courtesy of Lucky Bradley.
© 2021 - Monika Kowalska

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