Updated information on persons featured in "The Real Life Test"
Chapter One: 1993
Chapter Two: November 30-December 16
Chapter Three: December 17-January 1
Chapter Four: January 1994
Chapter Five: February 1994
Chapter Six: March 1994
Chapter Seven: April 1994
|Chapter Eight: May 1994
Chapter Nine: June 1994
Chapter Ten: July 1994
Chapter Eleven: August 1994
Chapter Twelve: September 1994
Chapter Thirteen: October 1994
Chapter Fourteen: November 1994
Angela Wilson has continued to search for the happiness and contentment she hoped to find with SRS. Her relationships with Peggy and the children have been strained at times, and she left Charlotte in 1995. Living first in Atlanta, then in a small town in West Virginia, she continued to experience discrimination and sometimes hostility. She is now back in Georgia, sharing a home with another post operative transsexual woman. My wish for Angela is that she could find happiness in her own life, without needing to seek love and approval from that special someone.
MIchelle Kelly did indeed lose her job as a computer training specialist for the National Guard. Fortunately, she had already saved up enough money for her SRS with Dr. Seghers, which was done in late 1995. She remained in Atlanta and found a job working first as a secretary, then a computer specialist. In 1997 some really wonderful things happened for Michelle. One was obtaining a teacher's certificate. The other was obtaining a husband! Congratulations, Babe.
Gail Denton completed her training as a hairdresser and moved to San Francisco, where she makes more money dancing than styling hair. She hasn't set a date for her surgery yet.
Robert and Jeanne Gettys also left Atlanta for the West Coast. Life was not easy for a couple in which the wife is TS, especially pre-op. They eventually went their separate ways, and Jeanne had her SRS with Dr. Meltzer..
We hadn't heard from Theresa Kinney in nearly two years, until April 1997 when I was very pleasantly surprised to hear from her by E-mail. In her own words:
I'm so pleased to know she is doing well. Anybody who can turn a phrase like "Equifax report of the soul" deserves success.
Also in 1997 I heard from my friend Phillida Hutcheson (See January 1994) who had viewed this Web site and wrote these kind words:
In early 1997 The Otherside, our favorite T- and lesbian- friendly bar, made the national news as the target of a hate crime. A homemade bomb seriously injured one person and made our world a less safe place. The criminal has not yet been apprehended.
My friends who are paired with female to male transsexuals are continuing to do well. Kathy and Brett McMinn also still live in Atlanta. They both work two jobs to pay the bills, but are very happy. Kathy's ex-spouse, after failing to regain custody of their son, finally gave up on her efforts to discredit Kathy and Brett. Joyce Rush flies routes out of Atlanta to Houston and other secondary destinations. Her boyfriend Sam is a financial planner. They are well settled into their normal lives.
Rick Mitchell began dating another male to female transsexual shortly after he stopped seeing me. The two of them live in Rick's home in a little town south of Atlanta. He continues to make a good living driving his truck.
Lee Frances Heller just keeps on ticking - although at 40 beats a minute, since she steadfastly refuses to get that pacemaker I keep insisting she have. She relinquished publication of the Grace and Lace Letter, but continued her unequalled spiritual ministry to the transgender community with a shorter publication called Love Letter. In 2000 Lee passed away at her home (see my memorial)..
Health concerns caused Jerry and Lynn Montgomery to turn over the leadership of their support and therapy groups to Dr. James Powell, who counsels just as many transsexual people as ever. Dallas Denny remains a well respected national leader in the transgender community. She has authored several books, most notably Identity Management in Transsexualism, and published Chrysalis magazine. She is now the Editor of Transgender Tapestry magazine.
Sheryl Anderson writes occasionally, but does not contact me often. She remarried in 2003.
Mark Anderson married in the summer of 1996. I was specifically asked not to attend the wedding.
Intermittently during the following years, I had contact with my son and daughter in law. Then in 2002 we began to correspond by email. I have not yet seen my two grandchildren in person, but you can check them out in the photos I will update on my Friends and Family page.
Margaux Ayn Schaffer remains my best friend and roommate after all these years. Margaux's design skills were a natural fit for the Internet. She began as an Art Director for Internet service providers here in Phoenix, and now has her own firm, Graphic Intelligence.
Margaux never misses a chance to tease me about how Phoenix isn't a modern urban city like Atlanta. I tell her, "yeah, but I haven't seen you buying any one way tickets back East." She has adapted to life in the desert. We have visited the Grand Canyon, the White Mountains, Flagstaff, Jerome... Arizona still holds so much attraction for us.
As for me, I can scarcely imagine that other, old life now. I never thought I would know such contentment in this life as I have known since completing my transition.
For a brief time after my sex reassignment surgery, I "dropped out" of the transgender community. I stopped visiting the Genderline group on Compuserve, and didn't keep up much with my old friends. I found dropping out to be very unsatisfying.
It was not a matter of failing to "fit in" in my new, normal life. I "passed" perfectly, much better than I had first expected. My voice and mannerisms, free from the pretension of maleness, adopted a normal female pattern with remarkable ease. So I found myself in a very normal work environment. I did indeed get all my hospital privileges, and became very busy with cardiac catheterizations, angioplasty, and pacemakers.
After living in the apartment at Las Brisas for a year, I found a patio home which was perfect for our needs. I made my first major purchase as Rebecca Allison, and was able to get the necessary credit with the mortgage company. Now we have our own place, with a tiny lawn in front and a tiny pool in back. We love it.
I had several dates with a man I met at church, but I never told him about my past because I didn't know how he would react. He moved away from Phoenix, and I didn't really throw myself into the dating pool. My work was so intense, I didn't have time for a relationship.
Although I made friends in the Baptist church, a feeling of unrest with fundamentalism began and gradually grew. It wasn't just my transsexualism, although certainly I wondered what would happen if it became known all over the church. I suspected some people would really be hostile. I just felt that life is more complex than the Baptists acknowledge. There are questions that do not have easy answers. Over a period of time I realized that, intellectually and emotionally, I belonged in the Episcopal church. I was attracted to their open-minded approach to questions, their ability to tolerate doubt, and especially their emphasis on the special, holy nature of the worship experience. The liturgy and the Holy Communion made me feel I could "worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness" instead of just sitting back and being a non-participant. After studying Episcopal theology, and realizing I had no points of disagreement, I was confirmed in the Episcopal church in early 1996. In 2003 I became a member of Shadow Rock United Church of Christ (UCC).
At home Margaux and I would wonder how our friends in Atlanta were doing. Rarely we would hear from Gail or from the Montgomerys. We found we missed much about our "community". So when I was asked to present seminars at Southern Comfort 1995 on hormone treatment, I eagerly accepted.
I flew back to Atlanta in September 1995, nearly a year to the date after leaving. I had a wonderful week, which began with spending time with Gina Butler and Barbara McClure prior to checking into the hotel. During the four days of the meeting I restored acquaintances with virtually all my old friends. My medical seminars were very well received, and I participated in a workshop on "transitioning in the professional workplace" which helped me as much as anyone else.
Once I had returned to Phoenix and was back at work, I had time to process my thoughts. I concluded that I never wanted to disassociate myself from "my people".
For years, therapists have instructed transsexuals to drop out of the transgender world after they complete their transition. It was felt desirable that we blend in completely with the "normal" world and never tell anyone of our past. I came to realize how wrong this approach is. It is based on a mentality of shame; we are ashamed of our past so we fabricate a new one. Our self esteem suffers, and we live again in a closet, afraid of being discovered.
Margaux and I were in agreement. We chose to live without fear. We live normal lives in our new home, not making an issue of our transsexualism, but not denying it. Never denying it.
This approach has had very positive and liberating results. Several persons with whom I work are now aware of my history, and they have become my closer friends than before. I have been able to make several new friends in Phoenix who have completed their transitions since I made their acquaintance.
In late 1995 and into 1996, the expansion of the Internet into the lives of individual users became reality. As a long time Compuserve user, I fit right into the World Wide Web. In May of 1996 I began developing my own Web site. I realized that I now had an opportunity to share my story on a wider scale, perhaps being of help to others whom I would never meet. My diaries of my transition year were easy to adapt to HTML.
At first I kept my transgender material on a password protected site, but after a few months I thought to myself, "this is hypocritical. If I am going to be a help to as many as possible, I must be open to everyone." So in October 1996 I opened this site to my public pages - and here you are.
The response I have received is uniformly positive. Many persons have received encouragement and inspiration from my story. This is my dream: to be a helper to those who find themselves in similar circumstances.
I intend to continue my involvement. In 1997 I gave two presentations at the Second Congress on Sex and Gender Issues: "Primum Non Nocere - A Physician/Patient Perspective on the Standards of Care" and "Hormones and Heart Disease". I also participated in the biennial meeting of the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association, making a presentation entitled "Research Versus Assumption: Adapting the Standards of Care to Meet Individual Needs".
My Web site has grown over the years and features several different sections: lists of gender therapists, facial plastic surgeons, and SRS surgeons; information on changing birth certificates; a series of essays on spiritual topics; and a "blog" for my current thoughts. As long as I have a contribution to make, I will remain active in support of all transgendered persons.