Key dates and events in my roller coaster years of going from Greg to Gina. From guy to gal. From G to G.
Living as a female will never happen. My lifetime chant has been, “All I want in life is to be a woman.” It is an impossibility. I need to stop desiring this. I need to repent, pray more, try harder, be the husband and father and minister that I am.
January: What is happening to me? I knew, over the past couple of years, that my gender identity problem had actually turned into this thing I never knew about before—gender dysphoria. I just plain hate myself. I can now look back over the years since I turned fifty and see how this has grown worse. I haven’t been able to look at myself in a mirror for, wow, how long? For years. I hate the man who looks back at me.
February: When I have a free evening, I need to be dressed as a female. I have never in my life had a need for this as deeply as I do now. I just chose the name, Gina, finally feeling like I have found a female name that fits me after a lifetime of trying. When I have to remove my female things, I break down, crying miserably and begging myself to let her remain.
March: Every dressing session ends with me bawling, lying on my bed and praying out loud, begging the Lord to help me. I can’t see a way out. For the first time in my life, I understand why people commit suicide. I am constantly saying, “You hate being a man. You can’t be a woman. Just kill yourself.”
March 8: I did not want to trouble Julie during income tax season because she works awfully long hours, but I finally have to come clean with how distressed I am. Her response to my finally admitting that I am desperate: “If you need to transition, we will figure it out.” Might I actually get to be a woman? I take turns being giddy and doubtful.
March 21: My first therapist appointment, a two hour drive both ways. I tell her that I need her to figure out whether I am transgender or just a crazy crossdresser. I schedule another appointment for a week from now. I will soon cancel it and never go back.
Mid April: I am a complete and utter emotional wreck. My life is constantly under stress. I cry all of the time, only gathering myself for work. Julie undertakes the finding of a therapist who might be up to snuff for what I need.
A week later: Julie found one. My first appointment proves that this therapist knows his stuff and is going to be a good fit. I tell him what I told the first therapist. Julie attends the session with me. She will attend as many sessions with me as possible, until tax season returns. The therapist is ninety miles away. We have lots of quiet time to talk.
Early June: In only my fourth session, I tell my therapist that I need to transition.
A few days later: I change my mind.
The next week: I change my mind.
The next week: I change my mind. I will live on this swivel for months.
Early June: Julie describes my life as riding a roller coaster through a hurricane.
June 24: I need to see if I can do this. I attend my therapist session as Gina. I feel comfortable going to and from the office dressed as a female.
June 30: Returning from my son’s out-of-state wedding, I tell Julie there is no way on earth I will ever be able to be around my family as a female. I am NOT transitioning. We flesh out new ideas about what I will do in retirement, which I just decided is what I’m going to have to do—I need to get out of the ministry so I can address my situation.
August 6: I inform the pastor who acts as circuit counselor for the churches in our area of my intention to retire in 2014. I do not tell him the full reason.
August 13: Wracked with guilt over withholding the entire story, I tell the pastor of my gender dysphoria and that I might need to transition. He has no knowledge of these matters but is very gracious. Over the next several months, I will tell many pastors, church leaders, my children, and some friends of my gender dysphoria and that I might be transitioning. Out of the dozens of people I will tell, precisely one will have any knowledge of these things.
September 1: I inform my congregation that I will be retiring in 2014, giving the cover story, which is true enough, that I need freedom from the grind of the ministry, especially because my kids all live so far away. The congregation is shocked and saddened. I’m sad, too. I don’t want to leave. I can’t figure out how I can stay.
September 19: I wish I would have kept track of the number of times I have changed my mind. One day, I am transitioning. A few days later, I am not. Round and round we go. I continue to have crushing meltdowns, about two a week. I need to do something concrete to try to get off this very-unmerry-go-round. I call one of the recommended doctors to get myself started on hormone replacement therapy (HRT). Perhaps, HRT will help me.
September 26: Everything is so far away. Julie and I see the doctor in metro Detroit. I pass the physical. I am given two prescriptions for HRT, one to lessen my testosterone and one to boost my estrogen.
September 27: I take HRT pills for the first time. I am very happy.
Early November: Julie and I go on the road, to tell each of the kids, in person, about my situation. No parent should ever have to tell their kids this lousy news. No children should ever have to hear this from their parent. The next two years are going to be very rough for all of us.
Late November: HRT often has a calming effect. At the eight week mark, I am so calm that I feel fine as a guy. Sadly, neither my therapist nor my doctor has ever heard of this. I can find nothing on the Internet to tell me why I no longer need to be a woman. I love the feeling, but I am totally confounded.
New Year’s Eve: I have felt wonderful for six weeks, happy to be a male for the first time in my life. I wonder if the HRT has balanced my hormones so that I finally feel right about myself, but I can find nothing to support this idea. Julie and I speak of my not retiring. We will give it another month before saying anything.
New Year’s Day: Yes, it is the very next day after Julie and I have the happy discussion that maybe we won’t have to leave Port Hope. But, the moment I wake up, I know my peace is gone. I am in terrible distress. I am completely confused about everything. I fear becoming suicidal again. I will soon fear that I will literally go insane. Happy New Year . . . not.
Late January: If I don’t shape up, I am going to be shipped out of the ministry. I had to promise church officials that I will stop taking HRT and keep my mouth shut about my gender dysphoria—I long to tell my congregation what is going on with their pastor—so that I don’t create a storm. If I behave, I will be allowed to retire without trouble.
The next day: I have been so completely out of sorts, the worst ever, and getting worse since New Year’s Day, and yesterday pushed me to the brink. I am in such dire straits that I fear the day when I simply will refuse to leave my bed. I hate everything. I have no idea what I am going to do with myself.
The next day: I ask for and receive a month’s sick leave. I need to get a hold of myself.
Early March: I return to work. I announce that I am going to try everything I can so that I don’t have to retire, that I will give them the final word within a month.
End of March: I was a fool to think I could gather myself. I inform the congregation that I will have to retire. June 30 will be the day. Feeling they deserve to know more, especially after my taking a month off, I go so far as to tell them I suffer from dysphoria, which means I am completely out of sorts in my mind, my body, and my life. No one will guess that I am actually talking about gender dysphoria.
May 1: I can’t live with myself. I have HRT pills on hand. Despite my promise, I restart taking them. I fill all of my refills, just in case.
Four weeks later: I confuse my pending retirement with being on HRT for my feeling good about myself. I stop taking HRT.
June 29: My final Sunday. The congregation throws me the most wonderful retirement party. Julie gives the loveliest speech, getting a standing ovation.
July 3: We move to Indianapolis.
July 6: I crash.
Early August: I hate everything. I hate me. I hate living in Indy. I hate being retired. I miss Port Hope. I restart HRT.
Four weeks later: Same thing as in May, I should know that it is the HRT that has me feeling good but, dumb me, I use the good feeling to decide that I need to cease all thoughts of ever transitioning. I stop taking HRT.
Early September: I had already scheduled a first appointment with an electrologist, needed for having my facial hair permanently removed. I keep it, and the next week’s, then stop doing this for the next four months as I try to be a male.
October 6: Here we go again. After a nice stretch of peace, I crash.
Early November: After a month of fighting myself, I pull my female clothes out of their tubs in the basement. I feel like I’m going to fall to the floor in a puddle of nerves if I don’t put on some women’s things.
Mid-November: I go to our family deer camp back home in West Michigan. I spend a lot of time by myself in the trailer, crying.
Mid December: I start with a therapist in Indy.
Christmas Day: This going back and forth cannot continue. I decide that, on January 1, I need to try the Real Life Test, living full time as a female, to see if I can do it, to determine if it is the thing that works for me. Julie agrees: It’s time. I inform my kids and some other folks who have been in the know. No one is happy about it. I get it.
January 2: As Gina, I go to Kroger all by myself, a first. Somehow, all goes well.
Mid-January: I have a bit of HRT pills left. I restart them in anticipation of my therapist soon giving me a doctor’s letter to restart officially.
Early February: Here we go again. Feeling good, I am fighting myself. I begin a period of going back and forth, Gina to Greg to Gina, sometimes flipping in the same day. My therapist says something about my struggles which finally sounds like it makes sense. Where the standard reaction of a transitioning person on HRT is, “Thank goodness I am transitioning,” when my hormones have enough HRT to be changed, the calm it brings actually gives me the power to fight harder to remain male. Earnest self-examination leads to me agree with this, that my intense desire to remain male is behind all of this, and I will see it in myself several more times over the next year.
Mid February: I have a consultation with a plastic surgeon for facial feminization surgery. Seeing the computer imaging of what I can look like pleases me very much.
Early March: I see a doctor to get new HRT prescriptions.
April 23: Returning from my therapist, I realize I’ve now been in therapy for two years and feel I’ve gotten nowhere. I just spent the hour in angry tears. I write about it and post it on Facebook.
April 29: I always knew that if I transitioned, I would not do so privately. I wanted no one to think I ran away to hide, that I was ashamed. Knowing how many people misunderstand transgender people, how many have prejudice against us, how many simply know nothing, I would make it my task to educate. I prayed for months about this and, last week, things came together to tell me it was time to go public. Today, I announce on the Internet that I suffer from gender dysphoria. I will post self-written essays, several days a week, to both my blog and Facebook.
May: We buy a house. I dub it Merrymoss, after Mary Moss who last lived in it.
June 3: We move in. I do all of the packing and loading and unloading in guy mode. Being in guy mode always makes me want to try harder to be a male. It never lasts more than several hours.
July 2: No more going back and forth. I am living as Gina 100% of the time, for good.
Mid July: I visit my son and his wife. This sets the table for his siblings. When I ask him how it is that we are having the same conversation as we’ve always had, with me dressed as a woman, he says, “You’re still the same. You are talking and acting and being your usual self. I don’t see that stuff. I see you, my dad.” Over the next months, all of my children will be able to accept my transitioning. Our relationships will be healed. I will never be any happier about anything else in my entire life.
August 19: After admitting online that I had been living full time as Gina for awhile, I change my profile from Greg to Gina, and post a female picture for the first time. The world didn’t come to an end.
Late October through early November: I print the forms for having my name changed. Family deer camp is coming up and I am no longer welcome at it. I talk with one of my brothers, who takes over a big function of mine at camp. The pressure of changing my name and the loss of the family vacation cause me to have a terrible breakdown that lasts for three days, a new record.
Mid December: The November breakdown has had me in a funk and finally I am coming out of it. I have a new resolve that I have to transition, that trying to stop, trying to go back to living as a male, is not going to happen. I will have losses, as with deer camp. I’ve had lots of losses in my life, just as everyone does. I will survive these losses.
Late February: I apply for a legal name change. I have an article printed in Indianapolis Monthly magazine: “The Real Me. What it is like to be transgender.” It is well-received.
Early March: I get my therapist’s letter, endorsing me for sex reassignment surgery.
Mid March: Thirteen months after my first visit, I return to the plastic surgeon. I am now ready to apply for health insurance to cover my facial surgery.
March 25: I see a doctor for my first consultation for sex reassignment surgery. I hope to have the surgery before the end of 2016.
Mid April. To have the sex reassignment, a second therapist’s endorsement is required. I begin therapy with a new therapist. I will only need two sessions for him to confirm my first therapist’s endorsement.
May 2: After being happy to apply for my name change, I have been struggling the past two weeks. I feel like Greg deserves better than this. But, serious reflection tells me that every time I try to stop transitioning, I crash, and then I always return to it. In circuit court, my name is legally changed to Gina Joy Eilers. I am relieved to have it done, but do not experience happiness.
May 5: I get a new drivers license. Besides my new name and photo, it reads: “Sex: F.” Now, I feel happy. This was a bigger hurdle for me than going to court. I leave the BMV feeling lighter than air. I get into my car, cry, “Woo hoo!” and thrust my arms into the air. Whew!
May 6: I receive insurance approval for my facial surgery.
May 11: I schedule my first facial surgery for June 22. I will have a second surgery later in the summer.
After I have SRS in the autumn, I will have completely transitioned.
I will be as female as I can possibly be in this life. I have no doubts about all of this. I struggle to remember what gender dysphoria was like. I feel like I’ve always been a female.