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CNN Presents: Her Name Was Steven
Aired January 1, 2011 - 20:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
SUSAN STANTON: I remember looking in the eyes and thinking, my God, it's out. What I have done? Oh, my God. For so many years, I had kept it in.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fire him or give him more testosterone, and let's move on.
S. STANTON: What liberates me has comes at an expense for the people that I loved. This transformation from Steven to Susan has been nothing other than magical.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Lots of humidity in the forecast for the week. Today's forecast is 88 degrees, the rain chance 50 percent throughout the day. Best chance of the rain in the morning. Right along the beaches...
S. STANTON: Steven had a good world. I had a job I loved, a wife that loved me. I had a son that I adored. Our home was beautiful. Our friends were great. I was respected in the community.
(ON SCREEN: "Donna did not want to appear on camera. She agreed to read written responses to our questions.")
DONNA STANTON, WIFE: The honeymoon bliss lasted for nearly three years. Every evening, we would come home and run five or six miles together, eat dinner together and talk about our days. We played tennis on the weekends or swam in the pool. We drank wine in the hot tub at night. We took romantic vacations together. We bought a house and had a baby. We had it all.
TRAVIS STANTON, 15-YEAR-OLD SON: My dad was just very manly. We would always watch football games. And when I was little, he used to -- when our team would get a touchdown, he'd throw me up. And one time, he threw me up and I hit my head on the wall.
S. STANTON: Your day was all right?
T. STANTON: Yes.
S. STANTON: We enjoyed riding in the Jeep. We enjoyed scuba diving with each other. We enjoy talking. Travis is very much like -- like his dad. He doesn't show emotion.
BRENDA FRANCISCO, STEVE'S FORMER SECRETARY: He was a family man, and they looked like the perfect family. He spent a lot of time at work. He worked as the best that he could to be a good city manager. S. STANTON: If they're not going to do it, they need to vote it down.
FRANCISCO: As far as working with the commissioners, getting the city moving, you know, working with the department directors, he did, I think, a good job.
S. STANTON: This is my -- what I call the "I love me" wall. We have the New York marathon in '94 and D.C. marathon in 2002 and we have a Chicago marathon in '98. I've been fortunate enough to get some good schooling at the Kennedy School at Harvard, an ICMA credentialed city manager. That means you've met some criteria as a city manager.
FRANCISCO: Largo's -- they want to be the progressive city, and we are in a lot of ways. But we're still hometown, a little hometown with a lot of Baptist churches.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The city of Largo is very fortunate to have Steve Stanton as their city manager. I move to approve a salary increase for the city manager, Steven B. Stanton, in the amount of 4 percent.
LESTER ARADI, POLICE CHIEF, LARGO, FLORIDA: He was one that wanted to make sure that everything was done correctly, so he was very involved in virtually every operation of the city. He had more knowledge about the totality of what it takes to run a city than anybody I've known.
FRANCISCO: A lot of employees thought he was too harsh and unfair. Others thought he was a little nuts because he was constantly moving.
LORRI HELFAND, REPORTER, "ST. PETERSBURG TIMES": He was that kind of macho guy. And it wasn't just the way he held himself, but it was also his attitude. I mean, we had some personal conversations, and I was, like -- you know, I would sometimes think, Oh, you know, he doesn't really get how women are emotionally.
JEFF BULLOCK, FORMER FIRE CHIEF, LARGO, FLORIDA: And you don't ever push Steve around. If you had an objective that was not in line with what he envisioned, it was -- it was a battle. He was a man's man.
FRANCISCO: Guy's kind of guy, is what he was.
S. STANTON: I was perceived to be a very assertive, aggressive city manager. I trained with our SWAT team. I rappelled with the fire department. I cleaned sewer lines. I loved playing in the dirt. My job was my passion. I didn't want to lose Steve's world.
HELFAND: The story began for me one night when I was here at city hall. I got a tip from a fellow reporter. He told me it was about the city manager. Steve had experimented with cross dressing, had attended transgender support groups, that he planned to become a woman, that all the commissioners knew, that he planned to announce it in a month, and that he planned to stay on as city manager.
S. STANTON: Lorri, the reporter, Lorri Helfand, came in my office, closed the door, and seemed uncomfortable with a question because she and I had worked real closely and she'd got this tip from her editor.
HELFAND: There was a little bit shock kind of when I first came in. And when I mentioned the thing about cross dressing, he actually kind of laughed.
S. STANTON: When she said, We heard you're making an announcement. I kind of, What announcement? And well, we understand that you're planning on changing your gender. (INAUDIBLE) Oh, my God. All these years, and the world knows, you know? And it's weird what goes through your head at that time. And that sound bite with Apollo 13 -- I mean, it was a soundtrack. Houston, we've got a problem.
The rug was pulled out from under me. I was definitely outed. I didn't want to deny, but I didn't want to admit. And she said, Steve, I'm running the story anyway. You can participate or not. We got it under a number of sources. She knew a lot of details.
HELFAND: We agreed to meet at 7:00 o'clock in the morning the following day, and he told me the entire story.
S. STANTON: I came home that night, told my wife, My God, guess what? The world knows. Our world -- the world as we know it is now going to -- is now going to come to an end. And it did.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This is Steven's space helmet!
S. STANTON: I was never attracted to dolls and pink things and all that stuff. I loved digging in the dirt. At that time, was feeling very different from other kids, not knowing what I was feeling. You feel that the outside doesn't match the inside in a very real way that is not easily understood.
So I can't give a real good clinical definition of what a transsexual is. But for me, at a very early age, I just knew what was inside, this presence, this feeling of being somebody other than what I was on the outside, was real. And it's been something I've struggled with for many years in my life.
I started keeping journals, I think when I was about 8 or 9. I was writing about feeling a sense of two presences in me, even at a small age, and tried to understand how that worked. When I was a kid, I used to equate it to never been alone but never having friends.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I got out of my grungy clothes and placed my dirty little body in the soothing hot water. I lathered my legs, arms and chest with a thick coat of white soap. I looked at my body floating in the water and imagined I was a beautiful nurse. My legs looked so pretty and my arms so feminine. But I knew this was wrong. I was a boy, not a girl." S. STANTON: My dad was always distant. He worked very hard and very long. My dad made an OK salary. We were certainly not well off. My mom was a full-time mom. She was a homemaker. An
I remember sitting down while I had her attention. And she was in the kitchen, ask her, Mom, if I had been a girl, what would my name have been? And she said without delay, It would have been Susan.
And when she said that -- I can remember, as soon as she said it would have been Susan, this explosive sound going off in my mind that, My gosh, that is -- that is what its name is. That's what my name is. And that's what I had been feeling for so many years. I just -- I just knew it to be true and it was just a powerful sensation that I could feel, even as a small child, that it's Susan. That it's Susan.
I never knew people went through puberty. When it started happening to me, it was very frightening that, all of a sudden, I was getting things that I never thought I should have, more of these masculine features, the development of the facial hair. When I started that, it was extremely scary. It felt like all of a sudden, my body was attacking itself.
My mom and dad were divorced. This is about '77 -- '76. And she was moving out of the house. Some stuff she was taking and some stuff she was going to just give to the Salvation Army. I remember going through the pile and tried a little tennis dress, and it felt right. It felt very comfortable. And I can remember wearing it for a half hour and taking it off and feeling really guilty about wearing, you know, my mom's tennis dress, for heaven's sake. I found myself looking forward at the end of the day to putting on my tennis dress, and typically hiding underneath the covers.
At some point, probably after graduating high school and beginning college, I had heard the word transvestite, cross dresser. I would spend all my time at the University of Florida and read about this, transvestism, transsexualism. During that time, as well, I started getting little nightgowns and little brassieres and I would wear that stuff at college. But it was not a sexual thing for me. I knew that some people were sexually stimulated by those things. I was not.
People think if you're transsexual, maybe you're just a -- you're just a gay man in denial. And no, not at all. Women were attractive, but I'd never dated before, even when I was in college, never engaged in a sexual activity at all.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "I must come to terms with my problem. I should not allow the two halves to continue. I must incorporate my personality. I cannot be two people for life. I don't know if I can solve this problem by myself. I really need help."
D. STANTON: When I first met Steve, he was the cute young boy in the front of the aerobics class. He was fit, muscular and had great legs.
S. STANTON: I met Donna. She was outgoing. She was gregarious. She was beautiful. She was nurturing. And she was looking for somebody who was normal, as I was, as well.
D. STANTON: We both wanted many of the same things, a loving spouse, children and a successful career.
S. STANTON: I was in love. And more importantly, she loved me, because no one had ever loved me before. All of a sudden, I felt the body of a beautiful woman and that surge of sexual energy, desire and a sense of warmth that I never had in my life before. I think she knew at the time that I was seriously deficient in some other areas, but was willing to -- willing to teach me, I guess, or put up with some of the inconveniences of a 30-year-old guy that didn't know how to make love to a woman.
After we became lovers, I didn't feel the need to jump in my clothes anymore. All I needed to do was just be normal, to do the things that most normal guys do, and it would -- it would be OK.
D. STANTON: So when Steve accepted a position as assistant city manager in Largo, Florida, he said he wanted to take me with him to paradise.
S. STANTON: And I promised her that if she married me that I would make $100,000 within a couple of years and that I would show her paradise.
D. STANTON: We got married en route to Florida and headed out with all of our possessions in a rented truck to begin our normal life together.
S. STANTON: It was done. It was done. It was behind me. Thank God, I'm a normal guy. And when I left for Largo, it never came back for almost seven years. It was done. It was great. It was behind me. I was -- I was free.
And I can remember one day waking up and thinking, Oh, my God. She's back. Susan was back. She was calling out. She was calling out to me.
D. STANTON: He wants to show off. He wants to walk for the camera. Hurry, Daddy!
S. STANTON: OK.
D. STANTON: I'm ready to go! Walk to Daddy!
S. STANTON: I was living the life of normality, and I felt great about that. The dysfunctional aspect of my self was in my past. It was done. It was purged. It was nothing that was relevant anymore.
Everybody, Trav-meister's going to his first day of school!
D. STANTON: Everything we dreamed of and hoped for became a reality. But then things started to change. S. STANTON: I can remember one day waking up and thinking, Oh, my God. She's back. Susan was back. She was calling out. She was calling out to me.
D. STANTON: Steve was promoted to city manager and began working even longer hours.
S. STANTON: What can I do for the community?
D. STANTON: He continued to spend more and more time on the computer at home. He would still have more work to do every night when I went to bed.
S. STANTON: And when Donna went to bed, I would be on the Internet reading information about transvestism.
D. STANTON: I accused him of having an affair. He said, no, that wasn't it.
S. STANTON: So after years and years and years of denial and after seven years of marriage, I went into her room and said, I think we need to talk. I think we need to talk.
D. STANTON: He told me he thought he would be a better person, a better husband and a better father if he could wear women's clothing sometimes.
S. STANTON: Not to be confused, she asked, Well, do you want to be a woman? I said, Well, God, no. Of course not. I just want to have fun with this thing.
D. STANTON: This was so far-fetched that I agreed to play along. I told him I would help him find some clothes and dress up. If I had known what I was doing, I never would have done it.
We did the make-up, the clothes, the high heels, the wig. I was still giggling when I escorted him into the living room to look at himself. I looked in the mirror and saw a ridiculous-looking man in a dress.
S. STANTON: Looking -- looking in the mirror was this -- was what I had been running from all my life. And I remember looking in the eyes and thinking, Oh, my God, what have I done? It was out. For so many years, I'd kept it in.
D. STANTON: He stared at the reflection. Then in a quiet voice, he said, So there she is. I stopped laughing.
Steve's desire to dress as a woman snowballed after that. He wanted more clothes, his own make-up, wigs. He began dressing several nights a week at home. We both agreed to keep this a secret. Life went on like this for another seven years.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: "Who would guess that I'm a transsexual? Of all people, me? And as a public person, disclosure would have an absolute and permanent damage on my world. It would be more than the loss of my job, it would be the loss of my 20-year career. Am I really putting my needs above those of my son, my wife and my world?"
S. STANTON: I needed to get out. I needed to get out. I would go away once a month to various places throughout Florida as Susan. I was now shopping in the mall. I was going to dinner at nice restaurants. I was trying to learn to be who I was. The first thing I thought about in the morning was all this transgender stuff and the last thing I thought about at the end of the day was it, as well. And I just realized it's getting more and more difficult to go back to Steve's world.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I believe in this ordinance. I believe it's the right thing to do.
S. STANTON: The city had considered a human rights ordinance geared towards non-discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender expression and identification. And up until that point in my life, I had been pretty good at compartmentalizing these two worlds.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Jackson (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: (INAUDIBLE) Halverson (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
S. STANTON: The conflict that I had when commissioners would say, You know, I'm OK with incorporating sexual orientation, but God, this transsexual thing, I've never even met a transsexual. I can't believe, you know, these people would be out there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Harper?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Motion is denied 3 to 4.
S. STANTON: I remember feeling just a sense of almost being a fraud, that had this very active aspect of my own personality that I wasn't dealing with. So I found a therapist.
KATHLEEN FARRELL, PSYCHOLOGIST: She was struggling with her identity, and had been for years, and was at the point where she believed that she was ready to emerge as Susan and needed that guidance in terms of how to do that.
D. STANTON: In March 2005, after nearly 15 years of marriage, Steve told me that he had come to the realization that he needed to live the rest of his life as a woman. The secret to which I had given up the essence of who I was to protect would be revealed. We would give Travis two more years of having Mom and Dad together, taking family vacations, getting through middle school, a two-year extension on a happy childhood.
S. STANTON: I met with my mayor. I met with the city attorney, the fire chief, personnel manager, police chief.
ARADI: It almost took him two hours to get the whole story out. It was a painful process for him to start with his childhood and build up to present day, where he finally told me all of the things that he was feeling and going through.
BULLOCK: He kind of hemmed and hawed. You know, he just drug this thing out. And he just -- he came out and said he was a transgender. And of course, I wasn't quite sure what a transgender was, but I acted like I did.
PAT GERARD, MAYOR OF LARGO: I bet it took a couple of days for it to sort of sink in. You know, it was sort of surreal. They didn't have any idea.
S. STANTON: I had the transition planned until a reporter walked into my office and our world changed at that point.
D. STANTON: When Steve told me that his secret had been leaked to the newspaper, I immediately knew that our lives would never again the same. I just wanted to take Travis and run as far away as we could get.
S. STANTON: All the work, all the preparation that I had done and that Donna had done in preparing for a very significant event in our lives just blew apart.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want the city of Largo to be the poster child for bigotry and discrimination.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: If Jesus was here tonight, I'll guarantee you he'd want him terminated!
D. STANTON: That day, nervous. Very. More antsy than normal.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He was frightened. And I had never really seen that in Steve before.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There was going to be a storm and we were going to see what was left in the aftermath of the storm.
(FEB. 21, 2007 - CITY OF LARGO PRESS CONFERENCE)
S. STANTON: The timing couldn't have been any worse. I literally have not had time to discuss this with my son and this is certainly not something that an adolescent boy is necessarily equipped to handle.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Everybody shows the fire chief and the police chief and the mayor and the HR Director, the Human Resource Director standing behind Steve Stanton. Steve has told us that he was going to go home and talk to his family. So, a deal was bartered that the media would get an opportunity to ask Steve Stanton a question or two and not show up at his house and bother his family. So, with that deal being cut, Steve appears in the City Hall, in the commission chambers and the media focus just completely changed. It was all about Steve talking.
S. STANTON: The obligation of City Manager is to demonstrate and I can continue to do the job. That the fact that my gender is shifting doesn't impact my knowledge, skills and abilities.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: When you went to the symphony, places like that, what did you wear?
S. STANTON: Just the normal stuff that any other woman would wear. Typically of something, like a black evening gown.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: He seemed to enjoy the spotlight.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm watching this man who was very shy about getting in front of the camera almost relishing the limelight. It was a new side of Steve that I hadn't seen. And I thought he was revealing a little bit too much at that time.
S. STANTON: That press conference was devastating. The information I gave was way too much, way too detailed.
This is probably a wife's worst nightmare, without a doubt.
At the news conference, I had told the world that I was hoping that Travis was not watching. He was at home and when Donna got home, we all got together in our living room. It was not an easy conversation.
TRAVIS STANTON, SON OF STEVE STANTON: My dad said that he had feelings that he was in a guy's body but when he was born that he was like a girl. And I was really shocked but then I was just like, you know, I kind of got over it. I don't know how, but I got over it. He was really serious. My mom was crying.
Culminating in him coming in my studio and saying, can I see a picture of Susan. I said, are you sure, he said, yes. He looked at the pictures and he said, Jesus, that doesn't look like you. Wow! You're pretty.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We must have gotten thousands of e-mails. He lied to the commission. He needs to be fired. Nothing of us having anything to do with being transsexual, but the there will be underlying reason was that.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I called commissioners and I said, you know, what do you think of this news. Basically, what they have said is that they supported him personally.
MAYOR PATRICIA GERARD, CITY OF LARGO: This is a special city commission meeting of February 27th, 2007. We are here to discuss the city manager's employment contract. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: You have a serious responsibility here tonight to support Mr. Stanton. And evaluate him based on his job performance and not his decision to change his gender.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What my concern is if this is the decision process that Mr. Stanton made, what kind of decisions he will make in other areas.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Having a meeting where the city manager who is a man wearing a dress preparing for a sex change is going to make people extremely uncomfortable.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Fire him or give him more testosterone and let's move on.
PASTOR RON SANDERS, LIGHTHOUSE BAPTIST CHURCH: I was disgusted, outraged. Basically, I talked to some other pastors, too, about it and I've mentioned that, of course, it is against the scripture. And I believed that the other side was going to be there, the tolerant side that thought it was OK and that basically Christians should be there and give their side of the story.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Mr. Stanton is not a role model. He has proven that. If Jesus was here tonight and I'm very familiar with the bible, I guarantee you he would want him terminated. He makes though mistakes about it.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It is with absolute horror that I look at the kind of mob mentality at play and this is a mob mentality.
S. STANTON: It's just real painful to know that seven days ago I was a good guy and now I have no integrity, I have no trust, I have no competence. And most significantly, I have no more followers. I have lost the respect from everybody in just seven days.
T. STANTON: Some of the stuff, they were saying was just not true and they were saying it, you know, to everyone as if it was true. I think it was discrimination.
S. STANTON: As I pulled into the driveway, I could see the lights were still on, so, nobody was in bed. I pulled into the garage and turned off the car, but before I could really get inside, Travis quickly opened the door and said, why did those people say those lies about you and then he gave me a big hug. It was a hug I really needed to feel. And then Donna came into the kitchen and we just held each other. I was so sorry, she said. I was so drained emotionally. It felt so great to be with my family and feel the love we all had.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN CORRESPONDENT: How did the secret get out?
S. STANTON: You know, it is probably something I will never find out.
COSTELLO: When I visited Steven in his home, he was preparing to save his job. He had one last try, this was his last appeal. And the city was going to give him that opportunity. He seemed to really believe that if he explained it well enough to these people that he worked with for so many years, that they would understand and care enough about him to allow him to continue in his job.
If you don't get your job back, will you stay in Largo? Will you stay in this neighborhood?
S. STANTON: I never conceded the fact that I won't get the job back. So, I haven't gotten that far, what I'm going to do, where I'm going to go. What profession, I'll be in. I love what I do. I love my job.
(MARCH 23, 2007 - STANTON'S FINAL APPEAL)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We had media from everywhere, every local, you know, plus national media. So, I mean, in certain ways, it was like a circus.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you think about all the support?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, through it all, he said his wife had been supportive but she didn't quite understand and he thought she might be at that hearing to stand by his side. And I remember we kept looking for her as he pulled in, in a motorcade and we couldn't see her and that was because she was not exactly by his side, but behind him. It was as if she was so conflicted but still loved this person so much that she felt she had to be there.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So many people were praying for us that I could literally feel the protective hands of God around me.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't want the City of Largo to be the poster child for bigotry and discrimination. I urge you five commissioners to change your vote to show the rest of the country that Largo is indeed the city of progress.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Don't let abnormals influence your vote. The man is sick and he needs help.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I felt only sadness and pity for the people who spoke such harsh words of hatred, anger and intolerance. I just kept praying, forgive them, father, for they know not what they do.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I will tell you that it is not about transgenderism.
ANDY GUYETTE, FORMER LARGO CITY COMMISIONER: The decision was not based on him being a transgender. Steve is an individual that really is focused on himself. I called him a master chess player and I saw where certain events in the past several years were lined up to prepare for this moment that he was making the announcement.
The foundation which the relationship between the commission and the city manager is built is trust. Without trust there's no longer a foundation for any relationship.
And that is when I changed my mind and decided to vote against him.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: There were some of the commissioners that said, prior to taking that first vote that they had issues with his performance and, you know, they didn't trust him anymore, whatever, whatever what they said. I think if you had those issues, you would have had them before this happened and this doesn't have anything to do with that.
KAREN DOERING, STEVE STANTON'S LAWYER: When it came time for the final vote, it was late. I don't even remember what time, at 1:30 in the morning or something like that. It had been hours of testimony. It was tense. We were nervous and it was just, you know, everybody's stomach was in a knot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The city charter gives to the city commission the authority to remove the city manager.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a motion and a second. Please poll the board.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We have a motion and a second. Please poll the board Commissioner black.
(FINAL VOTE TO WHETHER TO FIRE STANTON)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Black?
COMMISSIONER BLACK: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Giette (ph)?
COMMISSIONER GIETTE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mr. Woods?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Mayor Gerard?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Arson (ph)?
COMMISSIONER ARSON: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vice Mayor Crozier?
VICE MAYOR CROZIER: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Gentry?
COMMISSIONER GENTRY: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Motion carried 5-2. LARRY KING, CNN ANCHOR: Meet Steve, who is finally about to fulfill his desperate life-long desire to become Susan.
We were told you are going to make an announcement tonight of some kind.
S. STANTON: Yes, I think everybody thought that we were going to sue, because this is typically the...
KING: The announcement was you're going to sue.
S. STANTON: We're not going to sue. Absolutely not.
KING: What the reason?
S. STANTON: Well, because, I think, there is a time for healing that suppose to the size of, process of litigation. I always said it from the first time that I really wanted to educate, I wanted to educate, to make people understand that just because you are transsexual doesn't mean you can't lead. Doesn't mean you can't be a productive person. And I think, I can do that better as an advocate.
(STEVE TRANSITIONS TO SUSAN)
S. STANTON: You need to make me beautiful.
LINDA WEININGER, ELECTROLYSIST: That's my intentions.
S. STANTON: I appreciate this.
I started, I guess I started with what you referred to it that transitions to a transsexual, by doing the electrolysis and then after that the hormone treatment. You do kind of wonder, physically, do I have the stamina to go through what it's going to take to change a gender. I joke with other folks that it takes a real man to become a woman because it is extremely painful. A transsexual, you feel like you are bringing something out that is deep within as opposed to cross dressing where you are concealing your masculinity. You are removing a shell and sort of letting what is there come out.
WEININGER: Steve is actually been very special to me all through the sessions. You've got to be there for him. Because the closeness that you have gained is just so enormous. I can't even explain it. I can't even put it in words. The bond that you create, it was something like that. It is a deep friendship.
S. STANTON: Emotionally and spiritually, you connect overtime. So, yes, the connection I've developed with Linda the last year is pretty strong.
WEININGER: All done. That feels good?
S. STANTON: Oh, yes.
WEININGER: Feel like a new woman? S. STANTON: Yes. Right. I'm in transition. Struggling to do it seamlessly. The most terrifying part of the day is the morning when you've got to fight. Fight the hair. I want the hair to be perfect. I want the nails to be perfect. The whole selection of clothing. The way you do the makeup. And the type of shoes that you wear. Everything is so totally different. It was a little bit more complicated than I initially envisioned, but as fulfilling as I thought it would be.
S. STANTON: I was normal until I met you. You started all of this.
(MAY 13, 2007)
S. STANTON: Yes. It's great. Coming out from under a very heavy shell that I've lived under throughout my life, so it's exciting to get rid of it. You feel free and fresh and light and excited about the future.
D. STANTON: In many ways I believe Steve's physical transition from man to woman has been more difficult for me than for him. I have had to say goodbye to the strong, muscular, hairy man that I married. I watched him gradually fade away and it has been like a slow death for me. The masculine man that I loved is gone. A woman named Susan has taken his place.
S. STANTON: I was hoping that maybe if I was truthful that she'd want to make the journey with me and she did not. She said, what I was running to, she was running from. What brought me pleasure brought her deep, deep pain. To be watching the most important person in her life just disappear, month by month, becoming smaller and softer.
(DONNA AND STEVE SEPARATE)
T. STANTON: You are the best dad ever. You always make me smile.
S. STANTON: What I'm hoping, this surgery is going to accomplish is that it will make my body and my spirit 100 percent compatible. This is not a choice. No one does this because they think it's a good thing to do. It's done to preserve life. Oh, gosh. Wow. It's done. It's done. It's amazing.
T. STANTON: Hey, I need a toothbrush.
S. STANTON: You don't have another toothbrush?
T. STANTON: No.
S. STANTON: What about this beautiful white, it was like eraser.
T. STANTON: I know, this one looks cool though.
S. STANTON: There it is. I know how to do it. I told you.
T. STANTON: OK.
S. STANTON: The relationship between my son and I is something that is psychologically warring. He's been OK but he's been uncomfortable. So, he hasn't got to that point where it is second nature to him yet. It is still -- it's going to be something that he's going to have to get accustomed to.
You have the guns all ready to go?
T. STANTON: Yes. They're both out there. What are you doing?
S. STANTON: They keep falling out. It was the board. That's good.
T. STANTON: He was a very manly kind of guy. I was going to think he was going to have trouble, you know, being all feminine and dressing all pretty and everything, but he looked fine.
S. STANTON: Whoa. Good shot. All right.
T. STANTON: I wrote Dinky, because that is what I call him now, Dinky. You are the best dad ever. You always make me smile. I love you no matter what you look like and I don't care what people say. Your son, Travis.
S. STANTON: I just feel really guilty about putting Travis on film, reading his card to me. I wish, I had not done it. I feel really guilty about potentially using him as a prop. The transition from Steve's world to Susan's world will not be without some emotional torment.
This is one from Donna. We've come to know and accept each other. You complete me in my world. I love you, Donna.
Even though I have lost so much, I have also gained a lot. I have no regrets. It is nice not living a life of two genders anymore. We'll see. We'll get there.
(JUNE 7, 2007)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: And it is now hereby ordered that the petitioner's present name Steven Bruce Stanton is changed to Susan Ashley Stanton by which the petitioner shall here after be known. Ashley Stanton, Congratulations and I wish you the very best going forward.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Thank you, your honor.
S. STANTON: Can you ask us as far as how much it hurts?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I don't think it will hurt. It might be uncomfortable for a few seconds, but I don't think it will be painful at all.
S. STANTON: OK.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It won't be very long. It is very quick.
S. STANTON: You are going to squeeze them?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, we're going to squeeze them.
S. STANTON: You're going to squeeze them.
You're going to break them. It took so long to grow them and then they'll get broken.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No. They are not going to break. I promise. I promise, they're not going to break.
UNIDENTIFIED VOICE COACH: You want to be able to say, oh, how are you, instead of, oh, how are you. When you are more excited than that, you want to go -- when you see someone in the mall or something.
Let me hear you do some humming. What did we say about your lips? How did you do just now?
S. STANTON: Closed them.
Someone told me, you take hormones, your male anatomy gets smaller.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Oh, OK.
S. STANTON: In fact, recently when she had to start removing the hair --
S. STANTON: That is like, oh, my god. The guy in me is saying, Linda, you have to believe me, it used to be like three times bigger.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Well, I think it's time at this point to turn and face the mirror. So looking at yourself in the mirror now, what do you see as your best feature? What do you like the best?
S. STANTON: Geez, what do I like the best? I got nice athletic legs because I run. So I like my legs. I like my smile.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So you are not seeing Steve?
S. STANTON: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: OK.
S. STANTON: Not anymore.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Not anymore.
S. STANTON: He's not there.
The week started out getting ready to attend the Gay Pride festival in the city of St. Petersburg, in which I was the grand marshal. It almost felt as if this was held in honor of Susan Ashley Stanton.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: With a warm round of applause, welcome Susan Stanton.
S. STANTON: You are all going to make me start crying with the hormones here.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: The strength you have, a lot of us need to get the balls.
S. STANTON: Thank you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I just had to say that to you.
S. STANTON: Thank you. That means a lot.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Really, you're beautiful.
S. STANTON: I did not appreciate the significance of my journey to so many people who compose the gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender community, LGBT community.
I think in some ways, the press, the exposure, even at times it is uncomfortable being under the bright light, that that's my role for a while, that is OK.
DONNA ROSE, TRANSGENDER ACTIVIST: Susan was the most perfect example of someone who could be fired, not for anything to do with her job performance, but specifically because she was transgender. She is the reason that we need protections, that we don't have to face harassment or termination or other repercussions on the job that have nothing to do with our skills or our performance. So she was a poster child. She was the perfect test case at the perfect time.
S. STANTON: So I think it starts at a federal level to say you have to judge people on their skills and abilities. You ought not judge them based upon their gender much as you wouldn't on someone's race or religion.
The amount of information people are getting about this has been terrific. I think Washington does serve as us a really good platform to communicate those concerns, those values, the need for the federal legislation.
Going up on Capitol Hill and having the ability to talk to my own congressman about that, who knew Steven, who got to meet Susan and listened to almost 45 minutes, which was really unique. I wasn't prepared in seeing such smorgasbord of so many people. I wasn't. It frightens me. It makes me very uncomfortable.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After today, I could use a drink, too.
S. STANTON: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Gender expression is so varied. Some of the guys I've seen, who cross dress just a little, they seem so absolutely content but so unable to anything other than, you know, just an ugly man with lipstick.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Are you getting revved up out there?
S. STANTON: I think people in the trans community accentuate femininity, I think it really does stigmatize what people think begin a transsexual is about clothes, i.e, it's about wearing clothes, it's about dressing up. For me, it has nothing to do with wearing women's clothes. I have not been in a dress for three months.
I'm embarrassed to say that during the last three days I felt very much apart, not an equal participant. That is so narcissistically self-centered, critical and judgmental, all the things that my wife used to accuse me of being and said I wasn't, that I am slowly being outed to myself.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I'm so proud she is my friend and I get to introduce her today. Here is Susan Stanton. (APPLAUSE).
ROSE: When she went to the conference in Chicago, she was thrust into this sea of people who knew her, but she did not know, who saw her as a champion, but she didn't recognize herself as such, who wanted her to speak up in terms of communicating their message, but she didn't know what that message should be.
S. STANTON: Good evening. Or good afternoon. This is -- those lights are bright. This is my first opportunity to come to a conference like this. A couple of times, people have walked over to me and have started talking, and if I appeared to be impolite, it is only because I have been terrified since I arrived here, because this is the first time. Almost 100 days or so ago, I was wearing a suit, red tie and a white shirt.
Somehow, I have been thrown into the role as a national spokesperson for a cause I don't understand myself yet. I need to be able to articulate how one does pass a law to ensure gender expression, that you can't be fired but, at the same time, understand that certain people are not necessarily suited for certain jobs because of their expression of gender or the way they carry themselves or the way they talk or the image they project. So I don't know. I'm still struggling.
UNIDENTIFIED DOCTOR: Let's take a look at this operation --
S. STANTON: The seminars, for the first time, I listened to a medical doctor talk about genital reassignment surgery. What I effectively do is a penile inversion with using the penile skin and using that to line the vagina.
That is not going to define who I am, whether I do or do not. I do want to have it. It is not a matter of if. It is just a matter of when. So I may be doing that in the next couple of months. We'll see.
I have the resumes. I have the qualifications.
How are you doing, this is Susan Stanton.
ROSE: I think her notoriety has hurt her chances to get a job.
S. STANTON: As a transsexual, I know that if I'm going to get this job, I'm going to have to be better than everybody, not just by one or two percent, but substantially better to get this job.
I walked in to city hall. I was extremely nervous. I had bought brand new shoes and walking on a marble floor, I didn't want to fall. (LAUGHTER).
The Sarasota job came so quickly. I was still learning to do my hair, for heaven's sakes.
I finally got in and had a cup of coffee. Someone asked me to come over, and let me introduce you to somebody. I said, glad to meet you, my name is Steve. (LAUGHTER). It is like, oh, god. I said I'm still getting used to all this, too. Everybody laughed. It was a good ice breaker.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Welcome Ms. Stanton. Welcome to Sarasota.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I would like to know what techniques would you employee --
S. STANTON: The first thing I would do is look, learn and listen. It is important to have a comprehensive plan.
I met with all the commissioners. Connected with all of them, except one. I'm confident if they are able to put aside the fact I'm different, I'm a transsexual woman, I think I'm going to get this job.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Were you pleased with the way things went this morning?
S. STANTON: Absolutely. Sarasota is a great community. And all the commissioners are passionately energized.
The media had a substantial impact. Where it became destructive is when they interjected themselves in the process. They were not covering the selection process. Now they became part of the selection process.
Without a doubt, Sarasota had to consider, is this going to end if we appoint her and/or does, in fact, she enjoy the limelight.
I had a whole week to get to know people.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: So we are now in the position, after hearing everyone's comments, as to narrow the field. Again, check off your top two preferences out of the three names.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: So what is your reaction to not getting it?
S. STANTON: A little disappointment, but this was such a great experience. Everybody was so friendly in the community. And I'm glad I participated. And I made a lot of friends and I found a new home. and Sarasota is going to be part of my future no matter what.
UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER: Good luck to you.
S. STANTON: See you at the next round. (LAUGHTER).
I came up short. Didn't come in first. Did not come in second. Came in third, I guess. So I'm disappointed, real disappointed, actually. This would have been -- this would have been a good opportunity. It was close to home. It is a community I loved, and it would have been pretty cool.
I guess this house represents what the community represents. It represents a new beginning, a new start, a new opportunity to learn, you know, to live as me full time, not just on Saturday and Sunday. That's neat. It makes some of the losses a little more tolerable.
Looking forward to the fact that people know Susan Stanton. I'm not living in the shadow of Steven anymore.
I lost my job, a job I love in a city I adored, with people I love working with. I obviously have lost all of my friends in Largo, all the people that used to work for me, with the exception of about two or three people. Nobody has called. No one has said how are you doing or lent a helping hand. So knowing all that, do I have a regret? Yes. The regret is I should have done it about 15 to 20 years sooner.
The physical differences are dramatic. I used to do 70, 80 pounds, and now I'm doing 10 or 20. It is hard. It is kind of weird.
But the most difficult and uncomfortable initially was going into the women's locker room. At this point, it is difficult to go in the guy's locker room, and I really can't shower in the women's locker room. Going in either one of those sex-segregated environments are extremely intimidating.
I'm slowly meeting people at church, which has been really nice. That is important to me. People are reaching out and calling me by my name. When you lose everything, you do feel a sense of, you know, but why me? And probably during the past year, with that sense of helplessness, was, I guess, the time that this church became the most significant to me, the belief in god and a belief in self. So I'm going be OK.
I have no regrets. It's been the most difficult thing I've ever done, but it's been the most meaningful thing I've ever done as well.
I do believe strongly there's a purpose to this. The good things happen to good people. I may be by myself, living by myself, but I'm not alone. God has not forsaken me.
If I can't get a job that is able to put food on the plate, at that point, it's time to end the experiment.
S. STANTON: This is soup. How can you not like the soup?
T. STANTON: It is too --
S. STANTON: Try one?
T. STANTON: After this, no more, because I don't like it.
STANTON: How can it be too salty? You put salt on everything.
T. STANTON: Not in soup though. It is like putting salt on cereal. You can't do that.
S. STANTON: How do you operate this thing?
T. STANTON: You have it on wrong. Twist it back over. So you're doing it wrong.
When it was normal days, he would go real early, before I would get up. He would come home late as I was getting in bed. And every once in a while, we would have dinner.
S. STANTON: You're pretty good, pal.
T. STANTON: Now, I'm coming over every other weekend and we're talking and stuff.
S. STANTON: Honest people don't.
T. STANTON: Yes, they do.
S. STANTON: They do not.
T. STANTON: Let's say they had bikes, right, it is still like the same thing.
S. STANTON: It is not like the same thing.
T. STANTON: It is the same thing.
S. STANTON: It would be like a lawn mower and a car.
T. STANTON: A bike and a bike. S. STANTON: Well, it's the same thing and it has four wheels and a steering wheel.
T. STANTON: Essentially, it is, it does, and it has power and everything.
S. STANTON: Don't you think you're kind of (INAUDIBLE).
You want to play one-on-one? You've gotten good since I last played you.
T. STANTON: I'm pretty sure all my friends know that that was him and they seem OK with it. They were like, is that your dad. I was like, yes. They're, like, he's cool.
S. STANTON: Travis, you have gotten better.
T. STANTON: I didn't do anything since last. I think you got worse.
S. STANTON: Maybe. You shouldn't play me so hard. You are supposed to go easy on me.
T. STANTON: I didn't go easy.
S. STANTON: You did, but you beat me.
T. STANTON: I went easy.
It's made not that big of a change on me. People think he destroyed my life and he hasn't.
You have enough clothes, don't worry.
S. STANTON: I do have enough clothes.
T. STANTON: OK. No more.
If anything, we have gotten more closer because of this rather than far apart.
S. STANTON: I'm just looking real fast.
T. STANTON: Do you think this is fun for me?
S. STANTON: Well, no.
T. STANTON: OK, well, you have to take that into consideration.
S. STANTON: I guess you are right.
T. STANTON: He is still my dad. I call him dad. Everywhere we go, he is still my father.
S. STANTON: Smell that soup?
T. STANTON: Yes.
S. STANTON: Smell good, does it not?
T. STANTON: Nope.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Please give a hand for Susan Stanton.
S. STANTON: There's obviously been a lot of controversy associated with the appropriateness of me being in this organization.
ROSE: She made a statement to the effect that perhaps we don't all deserve rights right now, but if you are going to leave us behind, please come back for us later, which was so contrary to what so many of us were saying. That you can't break us apart.
The reaction of the trans community was a mixture of anger, frustration, disappointment, confusion.
S. STANTON: I think that you cannot legislate acceptance of transgender people when people -- when the general society has such a fundamental misunderstanding of what being transgender is.
ROSE: When you start to say that people who deserve rights are people who look a certain way or act a certain way, based on other people's acceptance of masculinity and femininity, you lose sight that many of us can't fit into those boxes. And you fall into the same trap of being judged based on other people's perceptions.
I was furious. There was a significant amount of backlash towards Susan. There is still a very vocal component of the community that feels that Susan is a sellout, that Susan is a traitor.
I do believe she has made the journey for herself lonelier than it has to be. That is saying something very profound because loneliness is a by product of this journey.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Susan, this is Brian Jones. He has some papers to deliver to you. Right here.
S. STANTON: Thank you. I'm sorry.
S. STANTON: Well, this is going to be our thanksgiving video. Hair looks like crap here. I have nothing on my face other than my hair and we're cooking our thanksgiving dinner and it's good to be home. It's good to be with my wife and my son and let's see how she goes.
This is our thanksgiving bird.
T. STANTON: Hot? S. STANTON: OK, this is Travis, the new man of the house here. He serves the primary role of cutting the turkey. OK, hit her, Trav. My son, the turkey cutter.
D. STANTON: We have all of our turkey trimmings here.
S. STANTON: When I go back home it is pretty clear that Donna is kind of erasing me out of her life.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Susan, this is Brian Jones. He has some papers to deliver to you.
BRIAN JONES: I am a process server, appointed by the Sheriff's Department, but I'm not with the Sheriff's Department. I have some legal papers for you.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Right here.
S. STANTON: Thank you. I'm sorry.
The goal is I don't want my partner to be financially worrying about stuff such as you know homes and support. Sometimes when people get divorced they're upset with each other, they're angry with each other.
During this past year, I mean, I have fallen more in love with Donna, my wife, than ever in my 17 years. She has been so good. She's been so supportive. She has been so nurturing to my son.
D. STANTON: I have fears of beginning a new career late in life, financial insecurity, raising a teenage son without a strong male role model and loneliness. The economic impact of the loss of economic is obvious. We will likely lose our home and our retirement savings and be unable to enjoy any of the comforts afforded by financial security.
T. STANTON: The biggest change has not been him turning into a girl it is losing the job. It is all about money. He might move away to get a job and then, you know, we'll never talk to each other or we'll never see each other or anything ever again.
S. STANTON: I am earnestly beginning the process of applying for jobs. I have sent a resume to the city of Berkeley, California, for deputy city manager and in fact, I decided to submit for the city manager job in Tempe, Arizona. I think my chances in Tempe are slim and none.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: I think her notoriety has hurt her chances to get a job. I think that her attempts over the last year and her continued frustration in that capacity bare that out. Because she still has the skills that made her successful as the city manager for Largo, Florida, for a very long time.
S. STANTON: How are you doing? This is Susan Stanton. It has been difficult this last couple of weeks. The last two jobs that I applied for as city manager in both Brooklyn Park, Minnesota and Iowa City, Iowa, both of those cities selected individuals that did not have nearly the breadth of experience.
If I didn't have this huge ball and chain dragging behind me I should be getting those types of jobs. It has been nine months and eight days since I was fired from the City of Largo. I just want to get back to work. I want to go to an office. I want to say good morning to people. I want to stay late. I want to feel excited about Monday. I want to feel excited about the weekends. I want to be engaged. I just want to be myself.
And I wonder if there will be a tomorrow. I used to talk about what I called option "C." option "A" was do nothing. Stay living encapsulated by the wrong shell. Option "B" was to go forward and try to be an authentic person and be who god meant me to be. And option "C" really acknowledges that option "A" nor option "B" are viable. And it means essentially would be taking your life.
S. STANTON: Are you ready to do the dirty deal? The most significant has been the emotional support. She was the person I ever relied upon was Linda.
LINDA: It has been hard to see her go through some of it. We have spent hours of conversation talking about different things and how rough it has been sometimes. I try to soothe the pain by just being there for her for a shoulder to lean on. It's not going to be easy.
S. STANTON: Yes. This is not pleasant. There is nothing good about this experience. During the times I have been in the deep valley, looking at my body has been reconfirming this is what I'm trying to achieve. This is what it's all about.
One of the reasons I'm excited about surgery is I'll be ready, I'll be fully engaged. You know, the pieces of Steven will be forever, you know, untethered. What I'm hoping that this surgery is going to accomplish is that it will make my body and my spirit 100% compatible.
No one does this because they think it's a good thing to do. It's done to preserve life. It's not a choice. I never considered myself homosexual. I have never been attracted to men. People used to ask me that a year ago. I said no. But I don't know now. I don't know.
With a different chemistry I notice men in ways I never did before. I find myself looking at big muscular guys at the club. It's just amazing how big mens' muscles are. I have been asking some of my friends, what is it like to make love to a man?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hello.
S. STANTON: Hi, Doctor.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: How are you?
S. STANTON: I'm doing good.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Good. Let's talk about the order of things. First of all, the vaginoplasty, which will take about between 3 to 3 1/2 hours. During the course of which, we won't lose much blood so you shouldn't feel very bad the next day.
It's interesting that most people think that it is a very painful operation. It is really not. My patients usually rate it is a three or four out of ten. Most people from the outside who look at this and think the patient is going to wake up screaming in pain. They really don't.
S. STANTON: You are really not cutting anything off. You are preserving most of what you have. You are kind of just rearranging the parts. The easiest analogy is making an outie into an innie.
This transformation from Seven to Susan has been nothing more than magical. It's just that - it's something that most people can experience and hopefully through this documentary, they'll get a peek. A small peek of what it's like, but they won't feel the magic. They won't feel the magic. So I'm hoping to feel the magic tomorrow.
I'm really scared. I'm terrified in that sense. I didn't think I needed anybody here. I wish I did have somebody. I'm scared. I'm scared. This journey has been so solitary. I started it alone. In some ways it is appropriate to finish it alone as well.
It's been a long process. It's been a long effort to get to this point. The point of no return is certainly here. I thought i should have done something last night to celebrate still having my little bitty baby penis. But I didn't other than hold it a couple hours. No. It just -- it's been a long process. What liberates me is come at the expense for the people I loved and hopefully we'll all be able to go on from here and resume our lives.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: After we prep and drape the patient, we are going to take the penile skin, turning it inside out and using that to form the vagina, the actual vaginal space. I'm not amputating the penis when I do the operation. I'm taking the important parts of the penis and turning it into a vagina.
So I'm basically separating the component parts. You have to be cognizant of the fact there are major nerves in that area. You want to preserve the nerves so the patient will have protected sensation. We actually did an outcome study of my patients and we found that 85 percent our patients are orgasmic post operatively so she should be able to have pleasurable sex.
Most often if they are attracted to men before surgery, they will be attracted to men after surgery and if they were attracted by women before surgery they will be attracted to women after surgery. From their earliest recollection, they have identified as the opposite sex, yet, they don't have a vagina and so as a result, they don't get the privileges or benefits of being female per se and they don't get the validation of being female until after they have the surgery. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Your friends are waiting for you from CNN. Want to wave at them? Hi. She's just waking up. Susan? How are you doing? Everything went just as planned. There were no surprises for you.
S. STANTON: Wow.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
S. STANTON: It hurts down there. I can't feel anything. Just mostly it hurts. Well, it's done. It's done. Amazing. Right now, I'm in the White Water in a very deep hole. What the hell was I thinking when I got into this raft?
S. STANTON: What does it feel like the first time you reach down and your penis is gone. What is that going to feel like? My penis always was there, but it always seemed out of place. Steven just kind of dying like the candle slowly going out. I thought it would look -- not wrong, but look odd, that it wasn't there. The thing I felt was that it looked right. Too bad I wasted so many years of my life for something that was so easy to achieve.
How are you doing?
LINDA: When I walked in the room I just saw Susan there. She was smiling, I smiled and we just hugged each, and I just felt that I was so happy to be there for her, and knowing she was looking forward to seeing me.
How is that doing? You don't have to show me. You don't have to show me yet.
S. STANTON: It feels weird.
LINDA: I would be embarrassed.
I think she's doing very well with it, and I think she's glad she's done it. I know she's glad she's done it. I don't think she would have it any other way. I think it's going to get a little get used to.
S. STANTON: This last piece is done, I'm excited about going back into the real world. That world may be very, very different than anything Steven ever thought about.
How are you doing?
T. STANTON: Hi.
S. STANTON: How are you doing?
Is that how you hug? I taught you how to hug remember?
T. STANTON: I know. S. STANTON: That's a better hug. How are you doing?
T. STANTON: Good.
S. STANTON: Do you miss at all?
T. STANTON: Yes.
S. STANTON: A lot or a little?
T. STANTON: A lot.
S. STANTON: What's the difference between a little and a lot?
T. STANTON: I don't know, I'm crying when I see you or just like --
S. STANTON: I don't look any different?
T. STANTON: No, not really.
S. STANTON: Never have a sex change.
T. STANTON: All right.
S. STANTON: Did I mention that to you today?
T. STANTON: Yes, you did.
S. STANTON: How many times?
T. STANTON: Like three times.
S. STANTON: Good because you don't want to lose all your muscle in case you have to move to college.
Probably the last aspect of this transformation is the realization that I'm going to have to refocus my life. I'm not employable. I need to leave the area. The issue is not my skill set, it's society's ability to accept people who transition in a very profound way. It's not a lifestyle issue, it's one of a medical necessity. I don't want to be the Florida transsexual any more. I just want to be me, I want to be a woman that's looking for work.
You're right there, totally naked as a jay bird.
T. STANTON: I could be wearing a bathing suit.
S. STANTON: You could be but you weren't. You were so cute. What happened?
T. STANTON: Do you know how to drive? Mom said you weren't good at it.
S. STANTON: What do you mean I'm not good at it.
T. STANTON: She said you weren't good at driving these vehicles.
S. STANTON: I am exceptionally good at it.
T. STANTON: That was scary. Just as I said, you're not very good at driving.
S. STANTON: This is not going to be a problem, we're going to remove the limb.
This is not a problem.
T. STANTON: Oh, my goodness.
S. STANTON: As I was saying, don't try this at home. That limb didn't need to be there anyway.
T. STANTON: You don't think this thing will like tip over or anything? Because we are really overloaded.
S. STANTON: We're going to put the windows up, air conditioning on. I really thought when I left Florida and went clear across the country that I could get a new start, and that has not happened. If I can't get a job to put food on the plate, at that point, to me option C is, it's time to end the experiment. I would do that if I have to. So when people talk I think about suicide. It upsets people.
T. STANTON: I think he has a whole bunch of reasons to live. A job is a small area of your life. It's not worth saying your life isn't worth living any more.
S. STANTON: If someone were to tell me when I started, in order for you to be authentic to yourself, the price -- the price would be losing friends, the job, potentially a career. You must give all that up first. And then you can live the rest of your life.
Are you willing to do that? I would have said no, of course not. So no, but the journey is still going. What I have gained is a body that's consistent with my spirit, I guess. What I see is as it should be. I just see a real authentic woman that is just struggling to find her way back into the world.