Two years ago, on December 30th, 2002, I presented my changed drivers license and Social Security card at the chicken plant where I worked, and obtained a new employee ID badge in the name of Sherry. Then as I delivered my mom’s groceries that night, I informed her that I had also changed my bank account to my new name and that she would need to write my checks to the name of Sherry. This was the day I began to live my life the way I always should have been living it, and the day I began to experience real life.
While I considered myself adjusted in my new life on my first anniversary one year ago, I can honestly say that I feel even more settled into my new life after my second year, and should not be surprised if I feel even more adjusted in another year from now.
For me my first year of RLE settled the question of whether I could establish a real life in the name of Sherry, while my second year has determined whether I could maintain what I accomplished during the first year.
In the first year I liberated myself from a miserable life and began living life the way I should be living it. During my second year of RLE, the Social Security Administration outed me when they sent a gender no-match letter to my HR at work. At the same time my overtime hours were greatly reduced, and my rate of savings for SRS slowed down during the summer. I found myself fighting a battle of the bulge to maintain all I had gained and to continue making progress toward my further goals. For a while I feared that the knowledge of my transition might spill out of the HR department and spread across my workplace, while reduced hours threatened to delay my SRS.
But the integrity of HR held, and I continued living my real life. Then I gained a better paying position on the second shift, which made up for part of my loss of overtime. This pay raise along with my increased discipline toward spending caused me to save almost as much during the second half of 2004 as I did during the first half of the year, and my progress toward eventual SRS continued almost unabated. I even decided I could afford a little road trip to friends in Arkansas and Tulsa for Christmas, and I had a very good time there. I must point out that I have a very generous friend in Tulsa who let me stay three nights at her place and paid for my food and some entertainment while I was there.
Maybe it seems that 2004 was a year of no losses or gains, but now I would have to disagree with that. Yes, my losses during 2004 were minimal, but I think I did make some gains in 2004 besides saving more money. The gains are not as dramatic as the ones I made in late 2002 and during 2003, yet I feel I now have some improvements that I lacked one year ago. I have more confidence than I did a year ago, and it shows at my work and in my life away from work.
In addition, acquiring the higher paying position at work last summer affirmed my transition and new path in life. Before transition, I never made such a promotion during the eleven years I worked in the chicken plants. I used to be a miserable and not so productive worker while I was pretending to be the man I really was not. After transitioning and leaving the chicken plants, I am now a worker who is comfortable with herself, and I believe it is because of my transition that I am now a more productive worker.
So what about SRS?
Today is my second anniversary of the day I began my RLE, and I still have not been able to obtain SRS for lack of funds. During my upcoming third year of RLE, I hope to finish saving the money I need, and also to obtain the therapist letters, so that when I mark my third anniversary in one year from today, I will hopefully have chosen a surgeon and know what day I can have my SRS. If I can’t have SRS during my third year of RLE, I can prepare for it so I can have a successful surgery during my fourth year.
Perhaps it is fortunate in my case that I was unable to have SRS after the standard 12 months of RLE. Some of you might remember that I was planning on having only the external SRS with no depth. If I had obtained that surgery then, would I regret some years later that I didn't get the vaginal depth when I could have easily obtained it? Partly because of my longer wait, I think I will end up getting SRS complete with vaginoplasty after all.
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