Here is a modified version of "Jennifer's Story", a newsletter that i was fortunate enough to share with many people whom i worked with in recent years.
I am writing to introduce you to Jennifer McCreath, Senior Policy and Planning Analyst in the Information Management Branch. I want to raise education and awareness about a very personal issue in my life that is playing out in a very public manner, because I want people to learn enough about this so they won’t feel uncomfortable working with me.
After years of confusion and unhappiness, I finally figured out what I needed to do to find happiness. In January, 2007, I concluded that I was a transsexual (a woman born with male sex organs) and that I needed to undertake transition (the medical correction of my sex organs and my hormone levels). After suitable assessment, my doctors agreed with this diagnosis and have been working with me on this transition process ever since.
Transition requires good physical fitness, so from January - July 2007, I undertook a grueling long-distance running regime and dropped 60 pounds. Although the main goal was to get in shape, which I did, the competitive fire from within lead me to take running to a competitive level. I have since completed 19 marathon runs, including the 2009 Boston Marathon.
In June, 2008, I started Hormone Replacement Therapy: the taking of testosterone blockers and estrogen pills. Over the next 3-5 years, this will cause a feminization process to my body: softer skin, lighter body hair, breast growth; as well as changes to my emotions. There will also be side affects such as fatigue, muscle loss, body weight redistribution and slower metabolism.
There are things estrogen won't do. This means that I require a series of expensive medical procedures, including laser facial hair removal and electrolysis, voice retraining, the wearing of a wig or hair transplants, and up to five different surgeries, including two genital surgeries - one of which I had done in December 2008.
In preparation for the surgeries, I needed to prove my readiness by undergoing a “Real Life Experience” (RLE) test as a woman (essentially as a way of proving that this really is necessary for me). This was a full year of living in the woman gender role as documented by doctors. My RLE went very well and I was given the go-ahead by my team of doctors to pursue all procedures.
The announcement of my transition has been well accepted here in Government, among my friends here in Newfoundland, as well as by local organizations such as the Aquarena and the Newfoundland & Labrador Athletic Association.
Raising societal education and awareness about the issues of transsexualism is important to me both for my own good, and in my opinion, for the good of the transsexual community, and all of society. I take pride in being an advocate, and I have been fortunate enough to get my story out into mainstream society by starring in a three-part mini news series that aired on prime time NTV news in March, 2008, a series which lead to a massive amount of positive feedback and support. A follow up news story in February 2009 was also well received.
Since then, I have also been featured on CBC news, VOCM Radio, The Telegram, and the Scope magazine. I have also been a guest speaker at a variety of events, addressing audiences including students, PRIDE week festivities attendees, health care professionals, and politicians & government policy makers. I have also been a guest lecturer for a variety of courses at Memorial University.
So why put myself through all of this? Our brain dictates who we really are. Our brain makes many conscious decisions, but many unconscious ones too. We don't get to choose whether we are left handed or right handed; we don’t get to decide how tall we are going to end up; and we don't get to decide our gender identity. Yes it is rare, only 1 out of every 20,000 people will have this condition, but for me, it couldn’t be more obvious. History has proven that post-transitioned individuals go on to live happy and normal lives, while untreated transsexuals often fall into deep depression, 40% of whom commit suicide.
So, will I really become a female? Well, legally yes, and medically, it’s amazing what can be done with hormones and surgeries, but the bigger issue is gaining acceptance across Government and throughout society as a whole, and this will be the toughest challenge I face. Change has to be slow and gradual, so with this in mind, I have moved forward one step at a time with new milestones: feminine wardrobe, legal name change, hormone therapy, and the first surgery. There are many more steps to come before this transition can be considered complete, but no matter what I look like, I ask that you think of me as Jennifer, a woman, and address me accordingly. It is hurtful to be called, him, sir, or mister. Please try to be sensitive and understanding of this.
Anyway, I look forward to the exciting challenge of continued success in transition, as well as success in the work place as an Analyst. I appreciate the support and acceptance I have experienced thus far and look forward to working with all of you in the future!
If you would like to learn more about me and my transition, please visit my personal website: Http://www.jennifermccreath.blogspot.com