Denise – My Story

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Denise – My Story

My name is Denise. This is my story.

After a lifetime of denial I came out as transgender when I was 38 and in a straight marriage with three young children.

The several years following were tumultuous and challenging, even leading to a near-successful suicide attempt (I was saved by my then wife). In seeking divorce, my spouse sought to portray me as a potential threat to my children based on nothing more than my transgender identity. She vilified me to my children and at the same time, I was fired from my high-profile position (CFO) by the company I worked for. Needless to say, my life was in a tailspin.

Eventually, through divorce and bankruptcy, always clinging to my pride and to my identity, often with the resilience brought on by belonging to community, I rebounded. Although I remain estranged from my eldest daughter – a hole in my heart that cannot heal – for these past 21 years my two youngest children and I have developed unbreakable bonds, as I also now have with my two amazing grandchildren.

I also found a new job – and eventually even a new career! I returned to school at age 50, earning my law degree from the prestigious University of Michigan Law School. While there, I met a new partner and we are now celebrating nearly 19 years of marriage (we went to Canada to marry in 2005).

I ended my career by working to bring social justice and acceptance – what we called lived and legal equality – for LGBGTQ+ families across the nation. For nearly a decade I worked for the national non-profit Family Equality, where we helped usher in marriage equality through our powerful Voices of Children amicus briefs, overturned backwards laws that tried to prevent LGBTQ+ people from forming families, and provided community for all – parents and children – at our annual Family Week events.

Now 69, I retired three years ago and have spent the past 30 years so very happy with who I am as a person, happy with my own identity, happy with my relationships, determined to never let the nay-sayers and hate-mongers win, and proud of our LGBTQ+ community around the nation – especially our youth, who display incredible resilience in the face of relentless attacks from the political right.

 

Please consider making a tax-deductible donation to The Personal Stories Project to help us with our support of the more than 20 other non-profit organizations we donate to through our annual giving program, including Family Equality, Denise’s former employer, whose mission is to ensure that everyone has the freedom to find, form, and sustain their families by advancing equality for the LGBTQ+ community. CLICK HERE to learn more and make your donation today!