Living With Character

Living With Character

There are a host of difficulties that accompany a gender transition, from tiny annoyances like needing an extra 30 minutes to get ready in the morning, to significant issues like losing your career and having to craft another. As a public figure I thought it was important to write openly, painfully, and honestly about the process of becoming Paula. Out of respect for their privacy, I have left my family out of the public conversation.

Recently I had to submit a biographical summary for a conference for which I am speaking. I realized while I still believe it is important to protect my family’s privacy, it is time to communicate more clearly on one issue that has actually been determined for some time.

Cathy and I no longer consider our selves to be married. We are no longer husband and wife, neither are we wife and wife. We are companions with a deep love and respect for each other. We enjoy our children and grandchildren, serve together counseling clients at RLT Pathways, and work together to bring healing to individuals who have been traumatized by physical, sexual, and spiritual abuse, justice to victims of discrimination, and a listening ear to those navigating through life’s difficulties.

This is a long and arduous journey. I am deeply grateful our family has remained unified and steadfast through this difficult time. I have written before that when it comes to family, there are no good choices. Either you lose a husband and father through death or a troubled existence, or you lose a part of that person through transition. Neither is okay, but most conclude one is preferable to the other.

Not long ago one of the early transgender pioneers, Dr. Renee Richards, reflected on her life as a transgender woman. She said, “If you could prevent the condition from ever getting started, that would be desirable.” Current studies point toward prenatal causes for gender dysphoria, but it will be a long time before exact causation is understood, and longer still before prenatal intervention is possible.

I agree with Dr. Richards. No one would choose this. If we could help future generations avoid being transgender, it would be for the best. In the meantime, we must play the hand we have been dealt, and try to live authentically based on the choices available to us.

I know some of you have additional questions about the relationship Cathy and I have today. However, I am sure you will understand this is not an issue for public discussion.

For all of us, life is difficult. How we choose to live in the face of life’s challenges is where our character is defined, for better or for worse. The character shown by my family has been extraordinary, as they have neither acquiesced to, nor rebelled against the expectations of others. They have made their own decisions, in their own time, with integrity. What more could one ask?