A Different StyleTranssexual:

"Him" in the 70's

"Me" in the 90's

In 1992 at the age of 43 I had a sex-change. I was born Dan Bunten and by various surgical and legal means I became Danielle Berry. By some criteria this makes me a transsexual (or Transgender as is the more current term). However, I look at it differently. I view the sex-change as my own second adolescent metamorphosis. It was the vehicle that got me from who I was to who I am. This may be semantics to some (and heresy to others) but it "feels" true to me. Although I'm not an gender activist, I'm also not one of those "woodwork" types that completely disconnect from her past, hides all evidence of it and attempts to blend in.  I have a career that he started and children he fathered**.  Both of which I love and couldn't bear to part with.  Consequently, I've had to come up with my own approach to my change.  This strategy (that is neither "out" nor "in" the closet) has some unique problems but I think it also has some unique benefits.

I live in the place where I grew up, Little Rock, AR.  It's a cute little city (pop 250,000) which is big enough that I can go to certain areas and not see a soul that I know.  But it's also a small enough place that if you talk to anyone for very long you'll find a connection through a friend, relative or something else.  Since I'm "out" to a fairly large number of people, I cant' be sure that folks I meet won't discover my past even if I'd rather they didn't.  However, this is where my kids live and I would miss them too much if I moved away. Anyway, with my career in the computer game biz, a quick web search will come up with unwanted connections just knowing my name regardless of where I lived.  As a result, I've started using a separate last name (and business cards with it on them) for dating so I can decide when I want to share my history.

On the negative side, I lost almost all relationships from my past.  My male friends fell into two camps.  Either they took me seriously as a woman and hence didn't feel the right kind of connection with me anymore, or they didn't take me as a woman at all and I felt awkward.  In either case we drifted apart.  I thought I was part of a large and caring family (many of whom live in the area) till I did this.  One of my favorite brothers suggested that I should have killed myself and if I didn't leave the family alone he'd help me do it!  Whew.  The fortunate thing about a reaction that excessive is that it was really obvious it's his problem and not mine.  More subtle responses could have made me feel selfish and guilty.  

Anyway, when I first came out, my 2 "closest" siblings and mother chose to disown me.  That hurt, especially during holidays.  However, the biggest loss was my children.  My 23 yr old daughter got married and had a son since we've been estranged.  My 14 yr. old son who lived with me till the change now alternates between embarassment about me and hostility for me.  Although my relationship with my 7 yr old son is as good as ever (he doesn't remember when I wasn't one of his moms), my access to him is seriously limited by that other mom.

On the positive side, this process of becoming my "true self" has been the most awesome experience of my life.  I love being able to be fully "me" -- past, present and future.  With my friends I get to drop anecdotes from his past and share the insights that such dissonance usually offers.  It's mostly happened that people I meet now make much deeper connections than before.  There may be a cost but it seems well worth it to feel like I'm the whole person I want to be. 

I haven't always felt sure I was doing the right thing, however.  I remember a time when I was walking at the mall with a gay friend and watching all the "normal" families.  I told him in a sad and regretful tone how "I'll never be normal again".  He responded "You've got it wrong...you need to say...", with an exultant tone he shouted "I'll never be normal again!"  It turns out he was right -- escaping the "normal" is what all of us need to do to become who we really are!

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Dating Straight Men
and Coming "Out"
(an email romance)

Special Note to Those
Thinking About
Sex Change Surgery