Dear friends and colleagues,

I’m writing to tell you an interesting and, perhaps to some of you, bizarre, bit of news. It may strike you as strange or very incongruent, but we’re all complex creatures, and there is a part of me that’s quite complex, maybe more complex than you realized.

I have had a 40 year struggle with Gender Identity Disorder (GID), which means that while I was born a male, I’ve always felt I was female. People like this are called transgendered or transsexual. Having finally sought professional help and having been diagnosed with GID (which was no surprise to me), I am finally taking steps to resolve this conflict via changing my sex and eventually living my life as a woman (which is kind of a surprise to me).

Some of you may be saying, “Wow! This is very uncharacteristic of George. He’s so whatever” (and I don’t know what that word would be to you, but I assume that “feminine” or “womanly” may not be the first thing that crosses your mind).

Rest assured that this has been as perplexing and odd to me as it may seem to you right now. But also rest assured that this is something I absolutely must do in order to maintain my mental and physical health.

No one knows where GID comes from. Maybe it has something to do with hormone levels in utero. There’s a theory that such hormones developed the transsexual’s brain differently and that the male-to-female transsexual has a hypothalamus that resembles female brains rather than male brains. Or maybe it’s environmental or chromosomal or psychological or sociological.

Over the years, I’ve used my natural curiosity and ability as a researcher to seek out all the information I could. I’ve looked for evidence in books, blogs, scholarly articles, news stories, memoirs. I’ve attended support groups, have sat one-on-one with therapists, have talked with and corresponded with others. And what I’ve learned from all this research is that GID doesn’t go away — it gets worse through time, and it manifests itself through depression, loneliness, isolation, and a really weird feeling of not being quite right, of not being meshed with yourself. It involves keeping very deep and very embarrassing secrets–like wanting to be a girl, which is the big one, among others. It involves building walls between oneself and other people, when you really want–are desperate for–connection with them. And yet you’re afraid of being too close.

The only thing you can do to make GID go away is to do something about it. So after lots of soul searching and discussing this with my family, my psychologist, my doctors, and a variety of other specialists, I’ve decided I’d rather live the second half of my life happy and open and secret-free and honest and as a woman.

You may be wondering how this will affect you. Well, I hope it doesn’t affect you at all. I don’t know if you’ll feel horrified, or perhaps somewhat curious, or maybe excited. I understand whatever your response is because I’ve felt all of those things towards myself. It’s also ok to find this situation quite funny, and it’s fine with me if you laugh with me about it (just not at me, if you please). I hope that if you’re initially horrified or perplexed, you’ll work through those feelings and ask me some questions, do a little research, and work with me, and then we’ll see our relationship through to the other side.

My great desire is to have everyone excited for me and support me and especially my family.

It seems to me preferable to be honest with myself and work through that honesty with my family and friends. Although it’s challenging and painful and hard, ultimately, down the line with Mary and the boys and my friends and family, as we grow older together and continue to experience this journey of life, this adventure, I believe we’ll all be better off with me happy and whole and honest than with me dead, depressed, angry, grief, self-destructive, or in a stupor.

If you’re still reading with me and haven’t torn this letter into little shreds, let me tell you that once you get past the shock and novelty of the concept, it’s really not that big of a deal. Unlike something out Hollywood’s Invasion of the Body Snatchers, I expect to remain pretty much the same person–with the same world view, the same hobbies, the same teaching, and the same duties.

Changing sex is certainly rare, but not nearly as rare as you’d initially think. Estimates range anywhere from one-onehundredth of one percent to a full one percent of the population. Which sounds pretty puny, but that would mean that Bedford Falls had anywhere from 20 to 2000 transgendered individuals. Not huge, but still significant. You don’t see all these transsexuals because they’re either trying to suppress their transgendered natures (and thus look like everyone else), or they’ve taken steps to realign their identity through therapy, love, surgery, and hormones (and thus look like everyone else). You only notice them when they’re in this awkward stage of half-existence, part man, part woman, undergoing a second puberty (as if the first one weren’t trouble enough).

If you’re really interested in transgender issues, you might read True Selves, a wonderful, clear-headed look at people who are transgendered, and another one by Jenny Boylan called She’s Not There, which is basically my life story (she’s an English professor who transitioned in her 40’s, has a supportive wife and two boys). Nevertheless, if you read this, in Jennifer Boylan I think you’ll see me. In Grace, Jennifer’s wife, you’ll recognize Mary, and her two boys I think you’ll recognize our two boys. It’s a hard story (as many transgender stories are), but it turns out ok and I hope my story ends up just like hers. I have been writing like a fiend as I try to understand my nature, and I’ll be happy to point you to that blog if you’re interested.

After this school year is over, I’ll begin “presenting” as female, which really means dressing as a woman, performing feminine gender (a la Judith Butler), changing my name, and possibly changing some of my more masculine features via surgery.

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