Transitioning from husband and father to transgender woman
WASHINGTON - FOX 5 introduced you to a local family still coping with a husband and father who transitioned into a transgender woman. Now, we are introducing you to the new woman and hearing her side of the story.
“I knew I had an identity issue when I was about 6 years old," she said.
This father and former husband asked us to disguise her identity. For the sake of our story, we will call her Julie.
“When I told my mother, I said, ‘Mom, something is wrong. I think I'm in the wrong body. I'm supposed to look like you,’” Julie recalled. “She said, ‘Oh no, this is unacceptable.’ I said that I feel like a girl and I want to be a girl. And she said, ‘No, you can't.’”
From a very young age, Julie said she learned to suppress her true self.
“I didn't want my parents to be disgraced,” she told us. “I didn't want to bring shame on the family. So I tried my best to be the model boy. If it had to do with being the role and playing the role of a boy, I succeeded and excelled because I wanted to and that was part of winning my battle.”
And Julie played that role for 48 years. She took on the battle when she met her wife, got married and had two daughters.
"I felt in my heart that somehow being married and somehow raising a family and somehow being a husband would help me to have it all go away,” Julie said. “It would help my identity issue just disappear.”
But it didn't. She said, "It got to be so bad that I considered that life wasn't really worth living."
Suicide was one option, but she chose to try something else instead. She told his wife and their two daughters the truth.
“It hurts me that I had to do it, but at its heart, I'm here and I’m here for them,” she said.
Julie’s ex-wife, Valerie, told FOX 5, "I felt lied to. How could you go 21 years of marriage and never give me and inkling about anything? I felt very deceived.”
"To us, our dad was the man of all men," said their daughter, Victoria. "He rode motorcycles, built motorcycles, cracked open a beer every night.”
Although it's been hard, Julie's wife and younger daughter have learned to accept the transition.
When we asked if Victoria still calls her father, “Dad,” Victoria admitted, “Yeah. And sometimes in public, she'll catch me saying ‘he’ and I'll get in a little bit of trouble for that because it outs her.”
“I ask them to call me by my first name if possible,” Julie said. “But I always will allow them to call me dad. It can be a problem on a date if my children come around and use the term, which forces me to have to explain.”
"I love him obviously, but part of me is obviously a little bit angry,” said Victoria. “I just kind of always think what if this hadn't happened to me and what if I had a dad."
"In their heart, I broke their dreams,” said Julie. “For that, I hurt and will never stop hurting. When I look at those pictures and I look back on my life, it hurts. It makes me want to cry.
“My only hope is that down the road, down the line of time, it is going to somehow heal those things and somehow society is going to make it more okay.”
Julie said her transition was about being herself and not having to hide anymore. It wasn't about not loving her family or wanting to divorce or not parent.
She told us she feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off her shoulders.
Ironically, when she was a child, Bruce Jenner was her idol. Today, Caitlyn Jenner now fills that spot.