I’ve started to use the women’s bathroom in public.

I’ve started to use the women’s bathroom in public.

At 47 years old, this transwoman with a Ph.D. in Engeneering feels liberated since recently beginning her transition. Living in Massachusetts, she has found community through trans support organizations, and is looking for the next step in her career.  She shares insight into her political views, her experience on dealing with her feelings, and much more. This story was captured in Lowell, Massachusetts. Read and listen to learn more! 

I have a PhD in engineering.

My specialization was in plasma physics. We looked at treating waste water, drinking water, and trying to prevents zebra muscles from growing on pipes. We also worked with a lot of lamp stuff, and ultraviolet for all sorts of different stuff.

I’ve always felt out of sorts, and I never really understood exactly why.

As I got older, I just didn’t feel comfortable in the male roles. What really gave me the aha moment was playing video games where I could play a female character. This was in the 90s. Back then you could be whoever you wanted to be online. During this time, I was in my 20s in graduate school.

I was 8 or 9 years old when I knew something was different.

I never really felt like I fit in with the boys in school. One time in third grade I was watching the girls play, and there was a girl who was off by herself like me, so we starting talking and struck up a friendship. All the kids started teasing us. As a kid, the worst slur you can call someone was to imply that they were gay. I found myself more comfortable in the company of girls, but I was supposed to be a boy, so I learned to put on a mask. This made social interactions a lot of work for me as I was never able to let my guard down.

It hasn’t even been a year for me since I transitioned. 

Going out and interacting in a more feminine way this big relief. I realized interacting with people doesn’t have to be a horrible, stressful, and energy sucking thing. It can be enjoyable. Very rarely do people stare at me, but I am very tall. 

I haven’t gone back home to the midwest to visit my family since I transitioned.

I came out to my immediate family first, then to a wider network on Facebook. They have all been supportive, and I haven’t heard anything negative. I told my mom first in February of last year. She said she had no idea. She didn’t understand, and when I explained myself to her she thought I was gay. A lot of people didn’t understand. Most of the people responded with curiosity, so I tried to answer all of their questions. I don’t have all the answers as it is new to me.

As a woman, I’ve been attracted to straight men for the most part.

I was attracted to men before I transitioned. I thought maybe I was gay before I understood there was this other thing. I didn’t find myself attracted to gay men, and when I fell for someone it was usually a straight guy. 

I am looking for work, and I was having a terrible time going on interviews when I started.

Once I started transitioning, I ran into a problem. I didn’t know what to call myself or how to present myself. Some people recommended to get a job as a male, and then wait a little before coming out. Once I started transitioning, it felt uncomfortable going back to male mode and trying to be a guy again. It reminded me of the way I had to be all the time before. 

I haven’t started hormones yet, but I have an appointment.

I wish that my transition was complete by now. I waited too long to start, and I have hair loss already. I still have some facial and body hair coming in as well. Not everyone who is transgender is going the same place, and I don’t know where I am going to end up. When I feel comfortable to take another step, I will, but I don’t necessarily have an end goal in sight. 

Now that I can be myself and be relaxed, I can go out and have a normal life.

I didn’t transition until I was already unemployed, so I didn’t have a transition on the job. It wasn’t until I was forced to have to go out and interact with a lot of people, that I was sent into a deep depression with a lot of anxiety. I started seeing a therapist for the depression, and then I started two explore my feelings on gender. Once I started down the path, I realized this is where I need to be. 

Before there were any laws proposed on bathrooms, transwomen were already sharing bathrooms, people just never knew about it.

I’ve been avoiding having to go to the bathroom out in public. It is one of the things that was the hardest to deal with, especially when I didn’t look as feminine. I was nervous so I just avoided it. I’ve started to use the women’s bathroom in public now, and I haven’t had any looks from other people yet. 

Because people are able to come out as transgender, we are seeing some more backlash.

There is such a thing as being transgender, and other people go through it too. There is a way to be yourself that is more freeing when you don't have to hide. Meeting other trans people at Tiffany Club is what really helped me. I went to gay bars in college, but I didn't feel like I fit in there. 

I wish I had confided in someone earlier on in my life, or had gone to a therapist to learn about what I was feeling.

Even if I had decided not to transition at the time, at least I would know what is going on. Since everyone has been really supportive, I wish I had transitioned earlier. You really never now how people are going to react to your transition, and that is the scary part about it. I was prepared for bad reactions, but it has been so liberating that I'm not going back. This is who I am now.

I supported Hillary during the election. I feel like she was more supportive of women like me. 

I felt of all the people running, Hillary was the most qualified. I know transgender people who voted for Trump, and are big supporters of him. I don't know what to expect from him, he is really an enigma which is frightening itself. There is a growing anti-science group that have been around now, and that really worries me. There are people who find evolution threatening to their religion, and their world view. The scientific evidence behind that idea is overwhelming. There are people who don't want to believe this climate change thing is real, and I know Trump is part of that. The idea that your opinion is more important than the facts worries me. When that happens, you can start convincing people of all kind of things, and I am worried on where that is going to go. 

I don't know if I want to continue working in tech.

At my prior job, all of our research was funded by government grants. I've been exploring government grants and moving more towards working in the non profit world. I also find volunteering helpful in meeting a lot of people.    

The theater has always been a safe space for me.

The theater has always been a safe space for me.

My whole coming out was about an hours worth of a lot of crying and a lot of fear, but ultimately it wasn’t that big a deal.

My whole coming out was about an hours worth of a lot of crying and a lot of fear, but ultimately it wasn’t that big a deal.