This is a slightly edited version of the original coming out letter that I posted on Facebook in January 2016. I am posting it here as a note to make it easier for people to find. If you wish you can read the original post and see the beautiful comments I received.
I recently posted on Facebook that 2016 is going to be the best year of my life, and I’m about to share part of that with you. After you read this, you will understand why this was one of the hardest posts on Facebook that I’ve ever had to make!
I am a transsexual.
I’m telling you this because I am going to be going through some changes over the course of the coming year. Bill Larson is going away, and Susan Elizabeth Larson is taking his place. Today, I instructed my attorney to file papers with the courts for my name to be changed legally from William to Susan.
I want to make it clear to everyone, that I am the same person today, as I was yesterday before you were introduced to the real me! I am merely able to be more open and honest with you all. My immediate family, close friends, and coworkers have known for years.
If you are interested in learning more about transsexualism, read the following page on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transsexual, and to understand the science behind it I would recommend: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Causes_of_transsexualism
Please allow me to share a little personal history with you; this isn’t something that I just suddenly decided to do on a whim.
From my earliest memories, I have always felt a sense of wrongness about myself, my body, and how others interacted with me. I had no name for it, but I felt the effects of it nonetheless. As I grew up, I figured out what it was that was bothering me, and that other people did not feel the same way as I did. I being brought up as a male child, but I knew with all my heart mind and soul that I wasn’t even remotely a boy.
As a child, I played dress-up with my sisters, and I loved it! However, I was smart enough not to tell them, or anyone else about why or how much I liked it. Don’t get me wrong here. It wasn’t a feeling of sexual excitement. For me, it was a feeling of at last becoming a girl, however superficially.
By this time, I knew what I was. When I watched the Christine Jorgensen Story on TV, I immediately knew what my goal in life would be, to transition from male to female. I have not wavered from this goal ever since. Suddenly the world opened up for me. Something could be done to fix the condition I had lived with since my birth. The problem was however that I lacked the funds to do so.
I can’t begin to tell you how hard it is to grow up like this. I turned first to religion, praying to God and asking for him to make this right. My prayer was simple, make me what my heart mind and soul were screaming to me that I was, a girl. When that didn’t work, I started praying for God to let me die. Something that I have done every time I prayed for the last 20 plus years, and something that I will no longer do!
As a teenager, I was angry and sullen. My sense of wrongness with my body deepened with puberty. The changes horrified me. The body hair that sprouted from my arms and the peach fuzz on my face was a deepening difference between myself, and the girl that I knew I was inside. Girls didn’t have facial hair. I took up shaving to get rid of it; which is something I detest doing now. My facial hair problem wouldn’t be nearly as bad of a problem for me if I did not do so. My voice changing was sickening to me. Losing the sweet girlish sounding voice that I had as a child sent me into deep despair.
I dug for every bit of information I could find about people like me. I called bulletin boards dedicated to the topic, (this was before the internet) and devoured every piece of scientific research I could find on the subject.
As a young adult, I came out of the closet for the first time, after two of my female coworkers (who suspected the truth) got me drunk one night after work, and then asked me repeatedly about it. They wore me down until I finally admitted it to the first people other than myself.
Telling someone that you are transgender is one of the hardest things that a transgender person has to do. Before you talk to someone about it, it feels as if you are carrying a bowling ball in the pit of your stomach. After you tell them, and they accept you it’s like being on an emotional rocket ship to the moon. I have always followed the motto prepare for the worst, and hope for the best.”
I told my mom shortly after coming out to them. She let me know that while she didn’t like it, she understood. You see she knew then that she was losing her only son. She told me that before my birth the doctor had her that based on fetal size, positioning, and heart rate that she was going to have another baby girl. She also informed me of the fact that she believed my birth father was also transgender. That was something I had not known until that point. We never really discussed it again. I subsequently came out to my sisters and co-workers. All of whom were accepting.
In late 1995 when I was 24 years old, I started up “Susan’s Place Transgender Resources,” a peer support website for transgender individuals. The site is intended to be a safe space where transgender people can assist one another, and it has the additional mission of educating the public. I have run it ever since.
It is now the world’s largest and most extensive transgender website. Around 250,000 people a month (in 2016) visit it accounting for 7 million page views a month. To give you some idea of the sheer size I have a staff of 80 volunteers who make it possible to run it, and in 2015 2.7 million people visited the Susan’s Place website, accounting for just shy of 100 million page views.
It has saved the lives of thousands of people around the world over the last 20 years. I have received messages of gratitude from several hundred people directly. And for every thank you that is received, there are hundreds more whom you have helped who do not send one. I would estimate that 90% of the world’s transgender community has passed through my website at one time or another.
In my late 20s, I started therapy with a renowned gender therapist by the name of Gianna Israel. Gianna diagnosed me officially as a Trans Woman. She wrote the book on the topic with Donald E. Tarver. Their work has educated many doctors on the subject.
With her help, I was able to begin hormone replacement therapy, replacing the male hormones that flooded my body with female hormones resulting in a massive mental improvement, and the development of some secondary female characteristics including breasts.
A few years later due to a worsening economic situation, I had to stop taking the hormones and put my transition on hold.
On Christmas day, my sister and niece gave me gifts that made it clear that they support me, and I guess that’s what I have been waiting to happen. I decided it’s time to move my transition forward again.
I have already switched my wardrobe from male to female. In reality, I did it years ago but dressed androgynously (neither overtly male nor female). However, as many of you know, I almost always wore a men’s coat even in the heat of summer. It was as a psychological shield between my true self, and everyone else.
Let me make it clear that I will no longer be doing so. I am Susan 100%.
I am getting my name legally changed, So I ask that everyone please either use female pronouns, (she, her, hers, herself) or if that distresses you for whatever reason gender-neutral pronouns (they, them, their, theirs, themselves) are also acceptable.
I will occasionally have to use the restroom when out in public. Let me make it clear that I will not be using a men’s room since my presentation is female. I keep a letter from my therapist in my car’s glove box and will be happy to let you read it upon request. I will only be in the restroom to use the facilities, or to check my face; the same as any other woman! I am not there to ogle anyone, and I hope that others will return the favor!
I plan on having my gender confirmation surgery (sex reassignment surgery) at some point soon.
Let me make this clear being transgender is not something that I have chosen! Trust me there was never any choice in the matter! I had fought against it as hard as I could for many years, even enlisting in the military figuring that would beat it out of me. It didn’t work!
The Gender dysphoria that I felt only went away since I have accepted what and who I am, and all which that entails; that the spiritual turmoil that I experienced while fighting it went away. I genuinely believe that this is the path that I was intended to follow in life. Either way, I have faith that God will understand and support my course of action in life.
I am sure most of my friends will accept me for who I am, and I thank you in advance for your understanding! For everyone else, I would certainly appreciate your support on my journey. For those who can’t or won’t, I will not hold it against you, and wish you well in life!
Susan Elizabeth Larson