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An extended bio

Evelyn J

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I knew something was different as early as 4 or 5, but I also learned early that it wasn’t something to bring out in the open, as this was in a rural area in the early 60’s. That initial internal suppression has been with me for much of my life. Not that I haven’t gone out as my authentic self – now – but as a kid without any role models, without any awareness of others like me (were there any?) it just got suppressed and that became the default.


I was probably around 13 or 14 when I saw an “article” – all of about an inch and a half of a column – in Time magazine. I don’t remember who it was about, I’m guessing Renee Richards. That was my first realization that I wasn’t the only person in the world like this. But I couldn’t be quite like that, either.


It wasn’t until college that I was able to put much of a name and description to how I admitted I felt. When I came out to my future wife a month or two after we met in 1980, I had the terms “transvestite” and “transsexual”, and I couldn’t be the latter, so I told her I was a TV. What I didn’t have was a name for myself when she asked. The two of us tried on a few names, and when I heard her call me “Evelyn”, I knew it was right. College wasn’t rural, but far from a big city. It would still be a couple of years before I would venture beyond the door. With her at my side.


I moved to the Twin Cities in the early-mid 80’s. I found computer bulletin board systems (the "Internet" before the Internet was public). I found a few groups – primarily one local, the City of Lakes Cross-dressing Community, and one I viewed as national, the Gateway Gender Alliance. In CLCC I finally met others like myself, and through the GGA, I found quite enlightening articles and publications. For decades I had their wallet card* in my purse. While attending the CLCC meetings, I I heard of another local group – “New Men, New Women of Minnesota”. I even knew at least one of the gals that was attending. And, it had an attraction that I couldn’t explain, but I just suppressed it and went on as a “cross-dresser”. My partner/wife attended most all of the meetings with me. There was even a time or two that I couldn’t go, but she went to see her friends there.


Aside from the meetings, I started venturing out into the public. First near Halloween, of course. But I started expanding to the warmer times of the year. Remember, this is Minnesota… There was one shopping experience at a Dayton’s, Donaldson’s or some other higher-end department store when I was looking at stirrup pants (ladies, who remembers those?). A sales associate stopped and asked “Is there anything I can help you with, ma’am?”. A little nervous I said “Is there a place I can try these on?”. Without hesitation she pointed to the women’s changing room and said “Right over there, ma’am.” I still didn’t get the hint.


That kept up until the early-mid 90s. At that point I started teaching a martial arts class on my own (I had been assisting for a decade with my instructor). It wasn’t long after I started that I realized the kids were really looking up to me as a role model, and that some of the parents were looking for one for their kids. In my head I couldn’t rectify that with going out as myself on the weekends. I just stopped going out. No purge, I’ve never purged in my life, just stopped. Everything remained hanging in the closet, folded in the drawers or stored as it always had been.


In 2004 I was not teaching for a few months due to changes in the health club’s interests where I had been teaching. I finally sought out a therapist, but didn’t look for one that had had experience with transgender clients before. In the first session or two, she said that I wasn’t a “good candidate” and to “put those thoughts away”. Great, more suppression, and supported by a therapist. But that only lasted another 10 years.


I had stopped teaching my own classes, and I was getting to the point that I had to do something to figure out where I was heading. Not to the point that another of my sisters has since told me to avoid, I wasn’t at “transition or die”. It was more like transition or be functionally depressed and not enjoy life. This time, I did a lot of research, then asked a good friend if she knew of any good therapists. Her reference just happened to be the doctor that was at the top of my short-list. A much better and more knowledgeable experience. Same story, it only took a session or two, but this time “Definitely gender dysphoria. What do you want to do about it?” My reply was that I needed to come to grips with the diagnosis. After decades of suppression, and hearing what I wanted to hear at some deep level, it still took me a couple of months, and more sessions with my therapist, to finally admit to myself that I needed to transition.


But now, how to tell my wife. We’ve been BFFs for 35+ years by then. We would go shopping, to dinners, or shows or walks together. We'd check each other out before we left home to make sure we were both looking our best. It wasn’t that Evelyn was hidden from her. But I knew a switch from part-time to full-time would not be easy. As I was trying to find a good way to bring up the subject, she got her own diagnosis – cancer. OK, back on hold, expend all of my energy to help her, and more importantly, don’t burden or distract her with anything she doesn’t need to deal with right now. It was two years before she was comfortably in remission. I brought up the subject, and as I figured, the first couple of “discussions” were all tears. We did get to talking about it. No firm decisions yet, and I wasn’t going to do anything without her approval. Those 35+ years had taught me a lot about a marriage and the partnership that makes it work.


This was getting into 2019, and then we got the news that the cancer had returned. I couldn’t put the genie back in the bottle, but I let her bring the topic up on her terms. Some things were agreed to, like ear piercing. Questions existed about other areas, especially HRT, and I would have to talk with a doc to be able to discuss it fully. I was getting ready to see about taking some of those steps forward and then the world stopped with Covid. I had been trying to find a spot on my calendar to make an appointment to get my ears pierced, and to see my doc and an endo, but I didn't work hard at rearranging my calendar to allow for it. On hold yet again. And at least as far as the ears were concerned, I was kicking myself...”I would have been healed by the time I saw anyone” keep going through my mind. At least for a few months. In July 2020 we were told the treatments were no longer working and no viable option existed.


Suddenly, all those thoughts of transition and delays and missed opportunities were gone. We arranged for home hospice, and started talking about even more difficult issues. I’m fortunate that I have a job and an employer that had made working from home easy over the last several years as I had been caring for her, and we were spending a lot of time just being with each other. At one point she said “I know it’s something that you have to do, I just wish you my best.” There were a lot of tears then, and there are again now as I'm typing this out. My BFF, my soulmate, who had helped me become the person that I am would not be there to see the finished product, to share my joy of living my authentic life.


She passed in October. I was in no shape to be able to work, and fortunately a co-worker suggested to have my doc and therapist submit a request for short term disability due to depression. It was worked out to take the rest of the year off. I spent a lot of time dealing with my grief, but I also had time to look at my life and where I wanted it to go. I realized that I needed to start taking care of myself. To start committing to a path and follow it, not just look longingly into the distance and think about how and when I should take the first steps. But, there was still Covid.


I got my first shot on March 1. Feeling safer, I set an appointment with my doc for my annual physical. She already knew I was trans. I had even joked with her the year before that the next time she saw me it might be Evelyn. “Oh, I’d love to meet her.” So after I made my appointment, I sent a note asking if there were labs I should have done, and if she remembered my “threat” from last year and if there was anything I should do to make that easier. “All your labs are standing orders. And we’ve got everything else taken care of.” was the reply. March 15 was the appointment, and everyone treated me very nicely. No hesitations with my name or pronouns. No looks or double checking computer displays. I did feel that the RN and my doc did treat me a bit different, though. They both seemed more chatty, and a lot more relaxed. I floated out of there and consider that the day I started my full-time transition.


My second shot was March 29. I saw my endo on the 30th, and walked away with my prescription. I picked it up on the way home, but thought the 31st would be a better day to start – International Transgender Day of Visibility. When I put on the patch and swallowed the first pill that morning, I felt a huge weight lift off my shoulders that I hadn’t even realized was there. It was shorty after starting that I started seeing clearer both physically and mentally. And the first time I bumped a door-frame and realized “Hey, that’s tender!” was a wonderful moment. I also made that ear piercing appointment, re-started electrolysis, and started settling into just being me. And figuring out how fast is too fast so that I can stay just on the good side of that. Over 60 hours of electrolysis from mid-May to now, in early September, seems to be just about right.


I started coming out to friends at the very end of May this year, and it’s been going great. With only one or two exceptions, everyone had already known a trans person before I came out to them. Many were eager to know how soon they would be able to meet me. And friends that I’ve had for decades are saying that this is the real me. That they can see the happiness, joy, and freedom in me now. I know I feel it. And it helps get me through those crying bouts.


Due to Covid, I didn’t hold a memorial for my wife until July of this year, so I’ve held off on family to not be a distraction at her service. The ones I’ve come out to since have been just as great as my friends. Like when I told my brother’s daughter she just turned and looked at me with this “So?” expression on her face. I know at some point my no-loss record (45-0-1 so far) will be broken. But between the friends and support that I have from my time in the community, and now with a large group of friends from my former life also being huge supporters, I feel I’ll be able to deal with anyone that feels they have to walk away. I might miss them a bit, but I’ve got so much filling my heart that I’m not sure I’ll notice much at all.


What’s next? Name and gender marker change, and coming out at work. I’m not much worried about either of those. It will be nice to have an “F” on the license, but I have already got rid of the “M” the last time I renewed as we have a no questions asked “X” option. Working from home makes coming out a moot point. I’m me every day already. ? Also, in 2018 I heard that there had been over 30 folks that had transitioned in the company. I knew at least 10 of them. I also know several of the folks that are part of our Diversity & Inclusion efforts, and there is no question that everyone gets to be who they are. That comes from the CEO on down. I've recently heard that Covid seems to have been allowing more folks to come out. I guess I better hurry so that I’m at least in the first 100. ?


There’s a lot of blank space on my computer after this. I’ll be seeing what I can write with my life to fill it. But I know that when you start seeing good things around you, even if there are some bad you don’t notice them much and you just keep smiling along.


* - The GGA wallet card reads:









Georgia L. Saunders

Executive Secretary

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thank you Evelyn! I relate so much to your early awareness & suppression. To me it's a transgender Cinderella story.




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2 hours ago, Delcina B said:

Thank you Evelyn! I relate so much to your early awareness & suppression. To me it's a transgender Cinderella story.




I think that we've had an early awareness of something being different for most of us from an early age, but fortunately now there seems to be less suppression. Young folks these days have better awareness of possibilities and support. When I was growing up in rural northern MN, I didn't even know there was such a thing as being transgender. At that time, any guy dressing like a gal was a "-awesome person-", and that's all there was to it. One big lump of everyone. I'm happy with my life, and enjoying it immensely now. I'm also glad that folks these days are getting a chance to enjoy their lives as they should from much younger ages.




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  • Forum Moderator

Thank you for sharing your story with us Evelyn.  I can relate to a great deal.  When i was in college during the late 60's the only definition i heard that seemed to fit was "changing roles".  I wasn't a tranvestite   as it was defined as addicted to wearing women's clothes.  I wanted to be female.  Clothes were simply a way to express those feelings.  

I am so glad younger folks can now find peace with their gender at an earlier age.  The media is full of stories about  trans folks .  The lid is finally off the jar.

People like you who share their stories certainly help us all.





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