On July 2, 2015, I made my second stab at living full-time as a female (the first being on January 1 of last year), and on August 19 I went public, changing my profile and picture from Greg to Gina. Thus, mid-July works for me as a time to give a one year update.
And what a year it was! Here is a bullet point summary of some highlights.
- July: I began the process of being with my kids in person.
- August: I did my first interview, for a podcast on Radical Grace Radio: http://lutherandifference.blogspot.com/2015/08/427-dealing-with-gender-dysphoria.html
- September: I used public women’s restrooms for the first time when Julie and I traveled to Iowa.
- September: I began serving on transgender panel discussions at Indiana University, a total of fourteen through June of this year.
- November: I spoke at Indianapolis’ “Transgender Day of Remembrance” rally.
- February: I attended my first family funeral and many aunts and cousins happily greeted me and chatted with me.
- February: I received my first therapist’s endorsement letter, affirming that I am succeeding at transitioning.
- March: My article was published in Indianapolis Monthly magazine: http://www.indianapolismonthly.com/features/the-real-me/
- March: I had my initial consultation with a surgeon, beginning the process toward having sex reassignment surgery, hopefully this autumn.
- April: Julie and I returned to a Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) congregation (the church body in which I was a minister), not having worshiped in one since I transitioned because we knew of none in town that would have us. We are now taking this congregation’s new member class with the intention of joining in September.
- May: My name was legally changed. I now have a drivers license and credit cards which reflect how I am living.
- May: I was interviewed live on the BloomingOut radio show. Here is the podcast: http://wfhb.org/public-affairs/bloomingout_/bloomingout-gina-eilers-may-5-2016/
- May: I received my second therapist’s endorsement letter, which I need so that I can be approved by insurance for my sex reassignment surgery.
- July: I attended the annual reunion of my dad’s side of the family, my first since I moved away from Montague in 1992.
If there have been any obstacles, they have been in my head. Certainly, as the list shows, I have jumped many hurdles, but a hurdle need not be an obstacle; a challenge, indeed, but only a barrier if one allows it.
I credit much of my success to you—my family, my friends, and my Christian brothers and sisters. Many people have just plain knocked my knee-highs off with how nicely they’ve treated me. I could not have guessed nor hoped for the great numbers of folks from every sphere of my life who have been supportive or, at least, kind and patient and understanding.
I knew I would have detractors. I expected to be unfriended on Facebook by some and I was. Because I knew I would have some people contact me with very strong objections—I already had experienced this in the two years previous, as I had privately told dozens of family, friends, and church leaders—I had resolved to lash out at no one who lashed out at me. I am pleased to report that I have been 100% successful in responding to everyone with patience, and with thoughtful reactions and explanations.
Because I chose to transition in public for the purpose of educating, I opened myself to a wider audience of unfavorable judgments. Here is a sampling, each from last summer, and each from a person who is a Christian in my LCMS.
• From a former member: “The devil is dragging you along by the nose. Turn to Jesus!”
• From a relative of a former member: “Do you have to do this in public? Think about your former congregation!”
• From a pastor’s wife: “You are living a worldly life. Where has your faith gone?”
• From a LCMS layman, whom I do not know: “Repent of this public sin. Your actions are scandalous.”
I did not hear from the layman after I sent him a friendly message. I heard once more from the pastor’s wife, who did not change her stance. And, thankfully, both of the folks connected to my former congregation hung in there with me, listened and learned, and now are understanding.
Yes, there are those who simply walked away without contacting me, which hurts a lot. Each one I have in mind is a Christian, and most of them are fellow Lutherans. I continue to seek openings so that I might accomplish good and repair these relationships. I will stay patient.
Finally, I have many thoughts on how I now feel about myself, the dramatic changes which have occurred in the past year. I am currently composing a piece regarding them. Thinking of what that will include, I have in mind the saying, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Wow, ain’t that the truth where it concerns the entire experience of transitioning from male to female.
In summary, the contentment which I finally experience informs me that I have done the right thing. The option to continue to fight as Greg—which was the only option I was ever given by my pastor peers—constantly left me in the position of either contemplating suicide or undergoing sedation which, I was convinced, would have to be so significant that I would have been left in a stupor. There is no exaggerating on these points. This conclusion was reached from fighting this battle with every bit of spiritual and secular strength and knowledge that was available.
So, here I am. A year under my belt. And moving forward.