Name change day, take two

On Tuesday, April 16, I return to court, aiming to legally return to Greg, to being recognized as a male, to the person identified on my birth certificate.

Since May 2, 2016, I have legally been Gina Joy Eilers. In August of that year, the judge made official that I was a female.

I thought I would legally be Gina for the rest of my life, or at least until I grew old and decided I wanted to die legally as Greg. As I’ve chronicled, the change in me that occurred in January 2018 was beyond my wildest imagination, and when my new sense of being male stayed and stuck I gradually resumed living as a male.

I’ve not had a whiff of gender dysphoria since early last year. Even going back on a low dose of estrogen in November, which I found I needed for the sake of my muscles and bone strength, hasn’t cause a disturbance in my feeling exclusively male.

Now, I find myself undoing everything I can to resume being a guy.

After changing my clothes and cutting my hair, addressing my name is the most practical thing for me to do. My driver’s license is for Gina. Thankfully, I’ve not had to show it in the past year, and I really don’t want to be in that spot: “You see, officer, it’s like this … “

The same goes for my credit cards. I mind the situations in which I use them. I will employ them when I can swipe or insert, but not when I have to hand them over. Only when Julie’s with me do I allow myself to be in a spot where the card needs to be handed to a cashier, and then she uses her card.

I’ll also have to get my identity changed with Social Security, on our mortgage, my pension, and more. Yippee.

This undoing of a name change is unique enough that I’ve been unable to find any help in assuring I’m doing it correctly. Because I needed a doctor’s letter the first time, I figured I should have one this time. Since I’m not seeing a medical doctor as I was then, I visited the psychologist I saw last spring. He wrote a letter affirming that I’ve successfully resumed living as a guy.

I hope I get the same judge. While I wouldn’t expect her to remember me, at least I could tell her that I was in her court three years ago, and if she has any concerns I can compare and contrast with when I was first in court.

I certainly don’t expect trouble, but this is such a wild card. I am anxious to get it accomplished.

The first time I went to court for my name change, as the group of us awaited the judge’s entrance I broke the uncomfortable silence, saying, “If I ever do this again, someone take me out to the woods and leave me.” It got a chuckle and fostered friendly chatter among us.

Well, I’m doing it again. I wonder if security will allow me into the courthouse toting a tent and a sleeping bag?

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Still a trans advocate (3)

I also have a secular version of the presentation.

On March 14, I gave my second Transanswers presentation. This time, I addressed eighteen pastors and ministry leaders.

They were attentive throughout my ninety minute talk, sprinkling it with their excellent questions and important insights, which brought to blossom the time we spent together.

This is always an area to bring out much discussion.

I mixed in short readings from my book, “A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane,” which served to enhance my talk and demonstrate what is to be found in the book. I was pleased afterward with how many purchased a copy.

Transanswers is where my heart is, to develop my new career of service and education. Based on the two times I’ve presented it, the need is clearly there.

I expand on each of these to provoke Christians to think deeply.

Might I present to you? To your church? Workplace? School? Group?

How far will I drive to do so? For starters, I will gladly go to the states which surround Indiana. If the occasion is such to entice me further away, I will certainly want to discuss it.

Still a trans advocate (2)

I’ve just been published in a book.

Not my book, but as a guest in another book.

As Gina.

I’m writing about it as I continue to demonstrate that my resuming living as a male changed nothing in my quest to educate regarding gender dysphoria and advocate for transgender persons.

It was a year ago when I received an email from my former therapist informing me that the editors of this book on transgender health and aging were seeking short pieces from older trans persons. The book covers every topic imaginable regarding emotional and physical healthcare for trans persons, and the guest essays provide personal insights into the topic.

At this time last year, I was still living as a female, but I was not feeling female at all. No one, outside of immediate family and a few friends, was aware of what I was experiencing. I knew that if the sense of being male persisted I would be resuming living as a male, and then making it known. Indeed, by mid-April I was going back and forth how I presented depending where I was, then in late May I was back to Greg full time, and on July 9 I made it public.

By the time I decided to submit a piece for the book it was mid-April. I wrote an essay and sent it to the therapist who told me about this opportunity. She sent an encouraging reply, so I submitted my piece.

I submitted it as Gina. I felt a bit disingenuous, not acknowledging what was going on with me. I reasoned that I didn’t know what would transpire, and I was still living as Gina, and I was legally Gina.

In early May, they informed me that my essay would be one of ten included in the book. I was not back full time to Greg, so I left that be. They informed me they would send me a book upon its publication. I received it on March 16.

Regardless of my resuming living as a male, everything I wrote remains true. In the essay, I reflect on an event I had attended in April, mere days before writing the piece. My endocrinologist invited me to a presentation to over one hundred medical professionals of IU Health. A nurse, who has a trans son, gave an excellent presentation, educating about gender dysphoria and one’s being transgender. I then spoke to them for a few minutes regarding my experience transitioning in Indianapolis. Then, I sat with a group for ninety minutes, fielding their questions.

In my essay, I focused on the many doctors trans folks see while transitioning, and the variety of specialists I saw as a trans woman—from two eye specialists, to an oral surgeon, to a podiatrist, to a cardiologist. I stressed that even though my providers all are in the IU Health network, and IU Health admitted they were behind the curve with transgender healthcare, I was pleased to report to them that the care I received from this host of doctors, along with the many nurses, technicians, and office staff I saw, took great care of me.

Transgender persons need good healthcare. They need to know they will be treated seriously, and with respect. And, they need people such as myself, who have been there and done that, who are able to speak up, speak out, and speak loudly, to advocate on their behalf.

Still a trans advocate (1)

I was recently interviewed on the show “The Gays of Our Lives.” You can watch the video or listen to the audio:

Don’t be fooled by the silly take on the name of the old soap opera, Lissa and Avery take seriously their work interviewing a variety of folks to “decipher the gay alphabet and bridge the gap between the older and younger gay community.”

In February, they interviewed a trans friend of mine, who, like me, transitioned later in life, and did so as a public school teacher in the Indianapolis area. My friend told Avery and Lissa about me, and my unique story of having transitioned and then resuming living as a male.

I jumped on their asking me to be on the podcast. I long to show that I remain an advocate for transgender folks. I need to demonstrate that I have not disavowed all things transgender, as one trans woman asked me if I had. I will make and take every opportunity to speak up, speak out, and speak loudly for transgender persons.

I’ve had trans women tell me that what happened to me, when I stopped feeling female, scares them, that it could happen to them. Because they have invested so much into transitioning and finally find themselves whole inside and happy with life, it is a jarring notion to think they could lose it all. Indeed, when it happened to me, for three months it rocked me hard, so I get it.

Thus, the importance of my making it known that I have not gone anywhere. That my resuming living as a male was not a disavowing of all things transgender. That I continue to advocate for issues related to experiencing gender dysphoria and living as a transgender person.

For their part, Lissa and Avery are doing important work by interviewing a host of people from a variety of backgrounds. Their winning personalities make them easy to like, a joy to work with, and a pleasure to listen to.

Thank you, Avery and Lissa, for having me on the show. Keep on keeping on with your good work!

Help me promote

Of the few dozen folks from whom I’ve received feedback regarding my book, readers can’t put down my book, they find it riveting, and they state this is a story that needs to be told.

That all is as wonderful as I could possibly ask!

And now I will ask more.

I don’t have a publisher behind me. While I am working on in-person promotion and selling in bookstores, those things will take weeks and months to accomplish.

For now, you can help. If you believe in my story, please promote my book.

Who is A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane for?

  • It’s for those who have a family member or friend who is transgender, who has transitioned, or who is struggling with gender dysphoria.
  • It’s for those who are in the midst of the gender identity conflict, who can benefit from a sympathetic voice, who can use a book to share with those they are aching to tell: “Read this. What Greg went through is what I’m experiencing.”
  • It’s for those who have transitioned, who are dealing with the fall-out, who could hand the book to their loved one and say, “Read how Greg was rejected and cast out. Read how deep goes the hurt. This is what I’m going through, what you’ve done to me.”
  • It’s for Christians, who could use a faith-lift, to see how a fellow Christian was strengthened by the Lord, who walked through the valley of the shadow of death and now enjoys green pastures.
  • It’s also for Christians who reject all things transgender, who need to be educated, to have their eyes opened and their hearts poked so that they might realize we’re all in this together.
  • It’s for the spouses of trans folks, for whom Julie can serve as a model to help them abide with their marital vows.
  • And, it’s for everyone who enjoys a human interest story, who can identify with a person who’s been put through the paces of suffering, of learning, of growing, of triumphing in the face of adversity.

With that, I kindly ask you to please share with your family and friends.

  • Click Share on the Facebook post of this, or share one of my several posts regarding my book.
  • Share a link to my website: https://gregeilers.com/
  • If you have read the book, review it on your Facebook page.
  • Share the link to my Amazon book page (see the end of the post for that).
  • Bloggers, share it on your blog.
  • Talk with whomever fits any of the seven It’s for categories.
  • Do what several have told me they have already done: purchase it for someone who would benefit from reading it.

If you’ve read it, I always appreciate your feedback. If you are an Amazon customer, you can write a brief review on my book page. The more reviews, the more the book will be promoted on Amazon.

Thank you, friends!

My book is now in print!

A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane—One Wild Ride: My Journey with Gender Identity is now available in print. You may order the paperback edition here:

The back cover copy:

Greg Eilers was at the center of privilege: a respected minister in a conservative church, a middle-class male in a rural community, a family man with a wife and kids. But he harbored a deep secret—a lifetime of questioning his gender identity. In 2013, the questioning had morphed into crushing gender dysphoria, and Eilers found himself in a battle to save his life and sanity. He also found himself in a conundrum: gender identity issues don’t fit with a traditional life and conservative values. How could a man who followed all the rules, and made the church his life’s work, be transgender?In 2015, Eilers transitioned to female to resolve the internal struggle. The road to inner peace, though, was rife with sacrifices. Transitioning took him from the job he loved, put his relationships to the test, and cast him to the margins of society. Scorn replaced privilege. Then, 2018 brought a development just as confounding as 2013’s struggle, and Eilers faced yet another transition.Through it all Eilers held firm to his faith, and found room in the Gospel for an outcast such as himself. He resolved to speak out—to share his story so others would know they’re not alone, and to speak up—to educate the public about transgender and bring dignity to a highly misunderstood group of people.A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane is a memoir, a unique transgender experience, and an inspiration to the Christian church to lovingly minister to transgender persons.

What readers are saying

17 of 18 readers have given the book FIVE STAR reviews. Snippets from some of their reviews:

  • Richard wrote: [Greg’s] superb and very readable style draws you in and tells you stories – important and true stories of human pain and resilience.
  • Colleen commented: When I started reading this story, I could not put it down. And now, I’m reading through for the second time. I am entranced all the more.
  • Jocelyn said: I had the hardest time putting this book down. I really enjoyed learning about a condition I don’t know much about and getting to know a genuine and wonderful human.

I was transgender: I have no regrets

On February 11, 2019, USA Today published Walt Heyer’s essay, “Hormones, surgery, regret: I was a transgender woman for 8 years—time I can’t get back.” Read it here:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/voices/2019/02/11/transgender-debate-transitioning-sex-gender-column/1894076002/?fb_action_ids=10156189577938494&fb_action_types=og.comments&fbclid=IwAR06NJxBcezkH4EbV2UDy1mkP7uRN6Zr-dR4aXkqDuBb0H1aSq7kXLEY994

I found Heyer’s take on gender dysphoria—the condition with which one is diagnosed before transitioning—overly simplistic. The result is that it does not shed light and provide the help I am sure he intends. Instead, it does harm. Thus, my rebuttal, which I submitted on February 19.

Hoping to have USA Today publish my essay, I could not directly refer to Heyer. I did not hear from them within seventy-two hours, indicating they are not interested in my piece, which means I can now post it.

Here are the areas in which I take exception with Heyer:

  • He regrets the eight years he lived as a trans woman. I speak to that in my paragraph two.
  • He finds all gender identity issues to be psychological. See my paragraph three.
  • He asserts that genetics are immutable. See my paragraph four and onward.
  • He claims many trans persons regret their transitions. See my paragraph twelve.

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I was transgender: I have no regrets

From 2015 to 2018, I lived as a transgender woman. In 2017, I had sex reassignment/gender confirmation surgery. I have since resumed living as a male.

It is common for those who have detransitioned to speak of regretting they had been transgender and underwent surgery. While I certainly wish I could have avoided the crushing gender dysphoria which led to my transition and surgeries, everything I learned, the people I met, and the experiences I otherwise could not have had, leave me grateful for what happened and where I now am. I have no regrets.

Hoping my gender identity crisis was psychological, as I sought to think my way out of suffering during the first months of talk therapy I found a physical reason for my gender conflict and, ultimately, why it resolved. Intense study led me to learn that one’s suffering incongruity between his body/sex and mind/gender is complex and far from understood.

Opponents of transitioning claim genetics can’t be changed and one’s sex is immutable. But, wait. There are women who have XY male chromosomes, and men who have XX female ones. Outwardly, they appear to be the females and males they were identified at birth, but it’s not that simple. They have an intersex condition. There also are intersex conditions which reside in the genitals and hormones, such as androgen insensitivity syndrome.

As for one’s sex being immutable, the word means “unchanging.” but if the person is born with attributes which do not line up with either male or female, the person will experience the consequences. Sometimes, they suffer conflict. This conflict can erupt into dysphoria, which means they have ill feelings about their sex and gender not matching.

Not all people with an intersex condition have an incongruity of body and identity. However, when a person does the suffering is real. It is not simply “in their head.” It is physical. And it often is successfully treated by their transitioning and identifying as transgender.

The causes of gender conflict remain mysterious. Some locate a psychological reason. I believe mine came from my endocrine system having been disrupted when I was in the womb, that my mom was given diethylstilbestrol (DES)—an artificial estrogen—to keep her from miscarrying me. DES has been found to be harmful to fetuses and is no longer prescribed to pregnant women.

Before transitioning, my testosterone and estrogen levels were typical of a man my age. But they didn’t work for me. As I took cross-sex hormones and my levels changed, I experienced great fluctuation in how I experienced myself. At times, I felt totally male. When my hormone levels shifted, my dysphoria returned. After gender confirmation surgery, I stopped producing large amounts of testosterone. Within months, I found myself feeling completely male. That sense has remained stable.

My hormone levels now reflect those of a genetic women my age, yet I feel like a man. I have learned of other men who take cross-sex hormones in order to realign their levels, striving to feel good as males. One man is in his third year. Having shifted his hormones without surgery, he’s found contentment being a male.

While there is yet no definitive proof that a disrupted endocrine system might be the cause of gender dysphoria, there are many maladies caused by altered hormones and we know their causes can be pharmaceuticals, chemicals, and plasticizers. Thus, when a three year old child, who is not yet old enough to have logical understanding of sex and gender, is able to persist, insist, and consistently proclaim that he or she is not the boy or girl as identified at birth, we are wise to dig deeply for a physical reason. A disrupted endocrine system could be the culprit.

As with uncovering psychological causes of gender dysphoria, discussing possible physical reasons indicates there is a malady. Many trans persons insist there is nothing wrong with them. They are fine being transgender. Thus, it is important to be respectful of all people in this delicate matter.

One reads arguments against transitioning, that there are large numbers of trans folks who regret it. Large numbers do not necessarily mean a majority, or even a significant minority. One can find many whose transition has provided them the wholeness of being they sought. I’ve gotten to know some of them. They report enjoying healthy lives as transgender persons.

Sex and gender, chromosomes and hormones, and every human is a complex being of mind, body, and spirit. Let us especially address with respect and patience the confounding condition which is gender dysphoria.

Greg Eilers is a former Lutheran minister, who writes at gregeilers.com. He recently published his memoir, “A Roller Coaster Through a Hurricane—One Wile Ride: My Journey with Gender Identity.”

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Links to back up all factual information in my essay:

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/swyer-syndrome

https://www.medicinenet.com/script/main/art.asp?articlekey=25059

https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/condition/androgen-insensitivity-syndrome

https://www.cdc.gov/des/consumers/about/history.html

https://eilerspizza.wordpress.com/2017/06/14/using-hrt-to-remain-male/

https://www.niehs.nih.gov/health/topics/agents/endocrine/index.cfm)