Delia Shares Her "It's Worth It" Message

Delia Says "Its Definitely Worth It"
Delia speaks candidly about what's helped her negotiate the many challenges of transitioning during middle age.  It's really five messages in one, all bearing on aspects of self-love and nurturing essential to coming out the other side a better person.  The messages are:
Be Smart

Be Prepared

Be Patient

Be Kind

Be True
Delia shares stories about her own transition for the blog Brand New Day, in hopes of promoting compassion and understanding for transgender people everywhere.
She wants to thank Lori for sharing a part of her story through the "It's Worth It" Project.

Shannon's Story

Yes. Hell yes!

That's the short answer. Is it right for everyone. No.

Being different is not a crime. It is an honor.

Where do I start? I have been mulling this over in my head for a while now since my friend Lori first proposed this idea to us. I want to help people, but how?. I want YOU the questioning, the fearful, the friends and families and the world to know this is without question worth every tear and every moment of joy. 

My story is not unlike many men and women and kids who have struggled most if not all their lives with a deep secret that leaves us wondering if life is worth it at all. After all who in their right mind would willfully choose to "become" a woman. Or a man. It is simply not a choice. It is who we are.

We are not becoming the opposite sex. We already are. Maybe not physically. But every fiber of our being beyond the physical is that man or woman or even someone in between. It is who we are. Not who society says we should be.

I never talk about my past anymore. Not as you might think. So writing this is a tad odd for me. We all transition and live our lives in what we hope if best. I am a late bloomer. I had feelings at a very young age that something was not right. Something about me was off. I was never comfortable in my skin. Like it did not fit right. Strange thing for a 5 year old to be thinking about. That feeling grew as I did. By the time I was nine, I was living a perfectly normal life of any young boy. Or so it seemed. What most people including my family did not see was the what was going on inside. Sound familiar?

Hitting puberty was an absolute nightmare. I did not fit in at school.  I was bullied. I was called a fag and a girl. I tried to show people I was neither. I would go home or somewhere and cry and curse the world because I felt like absolute freak. I thought of killing myself and my tormentors. I took it out on my little brothers. I was a mess and no one knew why. I lived in the south and people like me were not going to live very long if they came out to anyone. Not to mention the fear of telling my parents.

At around twelve I wanted to cut off my penis. I wanted to have a sex change and I did not even know what that meant. They don't teach this stuff in school and Al gore had not invented the internet yet. The will to live is an amazing thing. I thought for sure my life would change when I went to college. The internal pain never went away. I just masked it with drugs and alcohol. I even came out to a group of girlfriends in Art school... Sort-Of. I told them I was a lesbian.They laughed of course and they told me I was crazy.

I met my wife in college. I came out to her in our first year of marriage. We struggled with that giant elephant in the room. We were together for nearly 20 years. But in the end that elephant grew too big for either of us. It nearly killed me. It took being less than 24 hours from being dead and a whole lot of morphine to realize I could not live that giant lie any longer. She encouraged me to seek help.  

And I found it. My world changed when I finally realized I was not the only human in the world that had these feelings I had struggled with all my life. I began my new life, my real life after 40. I woke up with one hell of a smile on my face at age 43 on my second birthday. In less than 2 years I went from being a broken straight man to an amazingly whole lesbian woman. It's a bit of a mind-fuck I admit.

Like I said we all have similar stories in some way. I have abbreviated so many details. Left out so much I could say. But I'm still here. And that is what I really want to tell you. You see. I not only transitioned. I survived. And I am thriving. I consider myself a VERY lucky woman. My family and friends supported me fully. The ones that did not are not my friends. You will lose so much. But you will gain so much more. Self respect, love in your heart, new friends, inner strength, confidence, peace, and a view of the world so few can even imagine.

My transition was very fast and I dare say easy compared to most. A year and a few months. Some people will take years. Don't let anyone tell you that you have to transition in any set time period. You do what is right for you. Remember this is YOUR life. It will have a very significant impact on more people than you realize. And it will not be easy.
And it really won't be easy. You will feel and experience every emotion on levels you never imagined. You will see the world in a whole new way. You will be lonely, scared and awkward. People will say things and even do things out of fear, ignorance and hate. They will tell you that you cannot be who you are. You can and you will if it is right for you. It will be very expensive for a great many of us. I spent almost everything I had on 3 surgeries, hormones, Dr.s and everything else. But I am here to tell you transition is not a quick fix for all that ails you. Do not expect you life to be an instant new me. It wont be. It takes work. Lots of hard work, deep thought, common sense and a little luck.

If I have any advice to offer anyone transitioning it is this: For God's sake prepare for the worst financially and emotionally. DO NOT just jump in blindly. I have seen far too many charge blindly ahead without regard for themselves, friends, families or coworkers. Use that brain you were born with. Educate yourself and everyone you come out to who has questions or concerns. People will surprise you with utter compassion and acceptance. Some will not. The world owes you nothing except respect if you respect others too. Sure this is your life, but when you transition everyone around you does it with you, including your supporters and the people who do not. Just be honest with yourself and others. Know that acceptance is not a given and is
not immediate. You have likely had years to think about this in your own mind. Most of your friends and family will need time to process this amazing transformation you will go through.

Is it worth it? Again, YES without question.  I have a very rewarding life. There is nothing I cannot do. I have a very successful career. I have more friends than I ever had in my life. Is my life perfect? No. I still get scared, I battle loneliness, depression and public perceptions. I started life completely over in a sense and I am still trying to figure out who I am. What do I REALLY like and want to do? How do I fit in? Who do I tell? So many things.  Yup, life is a challenge when you go through puberty and teen years again in your 40s. Oh but the fun you will have. Best of all. I finally love myself. Live without fear, guilt and that constant feeling that my life is wrong.

So who am I really? Well this is not going to be popular with some people. And to be honest, I could give a flying frack. I am not an active part of the T community. I was at one point. I have a great many people in that Trans, LGB and medical community I owe my life to (Lori, MJ, Tiana, Michael and Lillian Brown, Dr. Karmen, Dr. Meltzer and so many more ). However, I do not identify as Trans anything. I was trans. I transitioned. I finished. It's that simple. It's a process not who I am. I live a semi-stealthy form of non-disclosure to everyone who I am not close too. I have no time or need for labels but I openly live as a lesbian woman. And I am very proud of that. As far as the world is concerned my medical history is none of anyone's business. For me this was the right decision. It may be for you. Or you may want to live openly. You may want to take a very active role in the LGBT or just the T community. You may never have a single surgery. You may want to move to a new city, state or country and completely start over never telling another sole as long as you live.

You many be gay or straight or bi, or maybe it just does not matter.

How you live your life is up to YOU. It is YOUR life and I hope with all my heart it is a happy and fulfilling life. Because living life true to yourself is so very worth it.

Peace and Blessings to you All,


Debra Believes "It's Worth It!"

Debra Believes "It's Worth It!"

I knew from very young that I was different from other boys around me and yet I couldn't quite put a finger on what it was exactly. I grew up in a very closed-minded world and yet it was all I had ever known. So it's really no wonder that any gender dysphoric feelings I experienced were subconsciously buried deeply in my heart before they could even reach a formed idea. Of course there were hints along the way but like those subconscious feelings, they were snatched away, even fought against mercilessly.
Debra, Pre-transition

This is why I didn't even discover crossdressing until age 27. But once I did, it began something that what would soon burst the bubble that I had thought was my perfect life. The fabric of my heart that had sealed away each gender dysphoric feeling, thought, and idea began to rip at the seams. I struggled with questions like: "Why do I feel like this?", "Am I damned to hell?", "What will others think?", and even "How can I live like this?" I worried about the losses I would incur from transition. I could lose my family, my wife, my home, my job, my friends, and maybe even my soul. And yet I couldn't keep on living like I was.

Don't get me wrong, I had lived a full life, I was successful in my career, a college graduate, married, and a home owner. Yet in my heart, I knew something was missing, something was off. If you go back to old pictures of me, you can see it in my eyes even when I smiled; no light there. And now I finally knew the reason for that feeling, I knew exactly what was missing and yet the journey loomed before me. So much pain; so much loss.

Many of us end up in quite the same conundrum: transition or die. Those around me expected me to find a third option; an option that included living and yet fighting against that part of myself that was trying to emerge. What they may not have realized is that by pushing me away from the idea of transitioning, they were not pushing me toward any third option, but instead toward the only remaining option I saw before me: death.

On September 2, 2009 at around 5:00am, I attempted to commit suicide. The details of how I went about it are not important but the fact that I was unsuccessful is something I am thankful for now in so many ways. However at the time, I was in a bad state. I committed myself to the psych ward of a nearby hospital because I didn't know what else to do. I felt so lost, so numb. My family and wife came to visit me there but not much was exchanged. There was still no solution. None of them would ever even suggest transition.

During an exercise at a group session at the psych ward, we had the chance to open up about ourselves and my blatant honesty with everyone was rewarded with acceptance. That was the first glimmer of hope I experienced. These strangers that didn't know me from Adam were accepting of the fact that I felt like a woman inside and intensely needed to transition my body and my life to match. While sometimes it truly is easier for people who don't know you to accept you, it still told me that if I could make this change, it just might be worth it.

I began transition and things did not get any easier. My parents became immediately estranged from me, my wife separated from and soon divorced me, my church all but excommunicated me, and many friends dropped off the map as well. I grieved for my losses, all of them, periodically throughout my transition yet not without beginning to appreciating life. The dreary Seattle weather outside my window was of no consequence in comparison to the rays of sunshine in my heart. I had embarked on a journey of self discovery and what I had discovered was freedom.

I no longer had to try to be something I was not. I no longer had to hold back ideas, emotions, and expressions that were never allowed in my past. I was recognized, complimented, and loved by many people I met along the way. And they loved me for who I really was, not the facade I had tried to put up for most of my life before. I was also blessed with a supportive employer and coworkers who made my transition at work so very easy and an adopted mother who became somewhere I could call home amidst the absence of my birth parents.

Debra today
I found I was no longer the introverted person that spent so many hours locked away at home living inside a video game but instead, constantly enjoying time and events with friends, acquaintances, and the little bit of family that was supportive. My body began aligning correctly from both the absence of testosterone and the injection of estrogen and my eyes learned how to smile. I experienced dating for the first time and with men to boot! And though it's true that I came across many who either had the wrong intentions or couldn't even begin to comprehend my past, let alone accept it, I also met many men who understood that I was simply a woman.

When the time finally came to have Gender Confirmation Surgery, I was both excited and nervous. The first few months of recovery were difficult for me, more so than the other girls around me. I had my own experience of depression, impatience, and worry in how things were healing. With the help of my surgeon and supportive family doctor, I was able to get through it, another milestone in my life complete. You can't imagine the wonderful feeling it is to finally feel right with your own body in so many ways.

And so I stand before you today, a woman who has experienced a mix of both negative and positive. Did I lose people in my life? Yes. Was there pain involved? Yes. Did I cry my eyes out at times? God yes. But was it worth it? YES! 

If you are experiencing gender dysphoric feelings and feel like transition or even life might not be worth it because you'll lose so much or even if you are somewhere in your transition already and still experiencing bouts of dysphoria or having doubts in general, please know: it is indeed worth it. Seek out help, don't give up; there will be a light at the end of the tunnel. 

See for more stories similar to my own

Editor's Note:  Debra continues to write about her life beyond transition.  You can follow her HERE.