Sunday, April 23, 2017

In the wake of the big coming out...

I realize that most of you already know my story. But if you don't, I came out as transgender to my job on the 14th. 

In the aftermath, things are so good. Everybody on my job has been so supportive. 

I think some of my brother firefighters at the station were pretty uncomfortable when they first saw me after I sent my letter. One firefighter asked me how my Saturday was. I said, "Pretty good. Now that I'm a girl." It was pretty funny. And everything was cool after that.

I plan on talking about some of the more interesting parts of this I guess, later. Right now I'm so happy just to be getting on with the regular parts of my usual life: running, gardening, and looking forward to some fishing. 

Here is the letter I sent to my work in case you didn't read it and you want to read it:

Hi everybody, I would like to share something with you.

Last year, in March, my wife Sarah asked me to tell our three boys something that I disclosed to her over twenty-one years ago. It was a secret that she said she did not want to have to tell them after I died, one that they should hear from me. Well, this was a tough one. It was an embarrassing thing and something that gave me a lot of shame over my life, especially when I was a kid. It was going to be a hard thing to do, but I told them, which unleashed a series of events. Now almost a year later, I would like to tell you.

I am a transgender person.

I don’t want to bore you with a lot of details, but I will give you a few pertinent ones. I have been going to counseling for this for over a year. I received a very definitive diagnosis after the third session. I have been seeing a physician, as well. I have been undergoing male to female hormone therapy for almost eight months. I let Chief Schaeffer know about my situation two months ago and Local 29 President John Goodman know one month later. I have met with the Chief, John Goodman and Meghann Steinolfson, our HR Director, to talk about the best way to let you all know about this.

I know a lot of us had the transgender awareness class (Cultural Diversity?) a few years ago. I will not speak for every transgender person's experience or their expectations from SFD. I think what we learned in that class still stands to some degree. But, as you know I am not a real touchy-feely person, other than I try not to be a jerk. When possible, I like all of us to have an enjoyable time when we work together. And I would really like that to continue. I have evolved on the pronoun usage and am leaning toward feminine ones, as each day passes. And I think I will be there soon. So, if you would use "shes" or "hers" in regard to me, that would be great! I will slip up on this too because, frankly, I am still getting used to it. So, thanks for trying.

I have a new first name in mind, as well. It is "Maeve." Rhymes with Dave, save and Flavor Flav. Again, I appreciate your patience, effort and kindness.

I might have hid out from you a lot longer, maybe even retired, before my transition became really noticeable. The reason why I told admin and why I am telling you now is because I want to be ready to take a stand for anyone in our city who is the victim of bigotry-related violence. I, like you, care a lot about the people we serve. If someone in the Spokane region was persecuted for being a trans person, I would feel like a coward if I just hid out. I didn’t want you, my brothers and sisters, to be blindsided when I have to take a public stand for someone in Spokane who was attacked for being LGBT.  Also, I want to tell the truth to you.

Please know that I am not writing this to ask you to treat me differently. I am the same person, and will always be the same person, no matter what you thought about me before, if you ever thought about me before. Now you just know more about who I am.

I realize that this news is weird. I have lived with the weirdness for over 50 years and it is still weird to me. I had never met a transgender person (that I know of) until about seven months ago. As such, I get that this may be difficult for others too.

Over the years, with so many of you, I have had really good friendships. Together, we have been in some tight spots and have seen and done amazing things. As such, it would be nice to think that this news will have little or no impact on our relationships. However, I am a realist, and I realize that some of you will not be capable of maintaining a friendship with me because of this disclosure. If you are one of those people, please know that I am very thankful for the gift of your prior friendship, and I will always be grateful for this gift, no matter how you feel about me now. Even if you just barely tolerated me, thanks for that too.

That was a lot for me to say and probably even more for you to hear. I am really open to any questions you might have. if you have ever worked with me, know that my attitude about my situation is about the same as it is regarding most situations. In other words, don't worry too much about offending me with questions you might have. You can email me back here at work, or my email at home You can also call me or text me at 509.230.5646, follow me on facebook or my blog - I will be informing others via social media and the blog soon. But, my brothers and sisters, I wanted you to know first.

Thank you very much, Maeve/Johnny G.


Rachel said...

Oh wow! That's a pretty big announcement!

Well, now it's +1 to the female biking community ;) Welcome!

Tranagender is something I'm struggling to grasp. If you ever want to write more about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences regarding that subject, then you can at least know you'll have one raptly interested reader.

EvilElf said...

Thanks Rachel. I will do it!!!

Hank Greer said...

I admire your courage and strength to be you.

Rachel said...

This was interesting:

Made me realize that I might have trouble understanding gender identity, because I'm not sure I firmly have one myself. I was a tomboy as a child, and I think more like men than women. But I looked at my parts and just went with it: I'm a woman.
But I don't really "feel" one gender or the other.
So yeah, I'm still really curious to "understand" this thing about gender identity!

Also, I do second what Hank said above, that it's really admirable the strength you've shown to do this. I can only try to imagine how scary and sometimes challenging it must be.

EvilElf said...

Thanks Hank!

Yes Rachel, I can totally see what you are saying. I don't know if anyone really feels a gender or not. Likewise, I think everyone's experience as a man or woman has to be so totally different. Rosa Parks certainly had a different experience as a woman than Ivanka Trump.

I really don't feel courageous about this. It was my wife, Sarah, who had me tell our boys. And the thing that I had struggled with and could stuff away for years at a time boiled over once I started telling them and others. It was a therapist who really confirmed what I thought. After three sessions, I asked her what she thought. It was hard to even use the word 'transgender." And having listened to my story, my thoughts and my actions, she replied that if there were a checklist, every box would be checked off. And that made me feel really good and really scared.

Sooooo. She said that whatever I thought I wanted to do is what I should do. And we let it sit over the summer and I started HRT in September just as a trial. After a few weeks of it, colors were almost too vibrant, I felt so good and so focused. It was amazing. And that sort of forced my hand to tell others because some of the physical changes were starting to become kind of obvious.

So, thank you! I just want to tell the truth about me. And maybe that may make it easier for someone else too.

Rachel said...

My husband says he definitely feels male. I've heard other people say that they feel their birth-gender too. But I just talked to another cis-gal (where I got the article link from) who said she also doesn't feel a specific gender. On the other hand, both she and I are working to reconnect with our senses of self, after years of abuse... so it's possible we're just not tuned in!

Anyhow, perhaps it's never something I will be able to fully grasp.... But I'm still fascinated!

As to courage, I don't think it's ever easy or not-scary to be courageous. I think some of the bravest acts are done by people who were utterly terrified, but mustered up the strength anyway. Even if it's out of necessity, I still think it's brave.

EvilElf said...

Oh yeah! I agree. To overcome fear into an action for good is definitely courage!

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