Transgender is in the news with the announcement by Bruce Jenner, our American Olympic hero, that he is transgender and making the transition from male to female. Yet, how many of us have actually had the opportunity to sit down and talk frankly with a transgender person to hear their side of the story?
In October 2011 I had that opportunity when I interviewed Stephanie Mott, the Executive Director of the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project.
It was an eye-opening conversation which prompted me to write this blog differently than my other blogs. I’m going to relay in a brutally honest way the very personal reactions and feelings I had when meeting and interviewing a transgender female, Stephanie Mott.
Before you read on, however, I want you to know that Stephanie stands out as one of my most favorite radio talk show guests. Her spirit moved me. It was a privilege to meet her.
These are my reactions to my first meeting with a transgender female, Stephanie Mott
Of course, the first thing I did when Stephanie walked in the door was size up her outfit, how she looked and what she was wearing. That’s not to say that, being female, I don’t do that with every woman I meet, but this just seemed different. I had a heightened awareness of the fact that in walked a female Stephanie, who had been born a male Stephen.
While I consider myself open and accepting of all people, I’m ashamed to say I was momentarily panicked when needing to direct Stephanie to the restroom. Men’s room, or Lady’s room? I’d never been in this situation before and for a moment I didn’t know what to do. Having to make a split second decision, I know I made the right one by directing Stephanie to the Lady’s room.
Once Stephanie and I got settled in to the recording studio two things I noticed right away were how soft, soothing and feminine her voice was. She also had beautifully feminine hands with long slender fingers and well manicured, but unpolished, nails.
I would have traded Stephanie hands in a second as hers were so beautiful. I complimented her on her hands and she thanked me. I could tell she appreciated that compliment.
As Stephanie is the founder and Executive Director of KSTEP, the Kansas Statewide Transgender Education Project, I knew that she was media savvy and had a wealth of knowledge and information to share on transgender issues.
I learned a lot from Stephanie but I especially had empathy for her when she talked about her life as a little boy. I can’t imagine knowing from the first she can remember that she was a girl born in to the wrong body.
There was nothing masculine about Stephanie at all and her energy came across so naturally and effortlessly feminine, that I came to feel like I was just having a fun morning of “girl chat”. That’s why it surprised me, and I may have even jumped a bit, when Stephanie momentarily popped in to her natural deep and booming male voice. Stephanie was telling me how she had to learn to talk like a woman because the hormones did not change her voice.
Stephanie relayed a few significant changes she noticed going from male to female. One comment she made was how, after living 40 years as a man, it was surprising for her to feel that her “opinions don’t count” as a woman.
To that I told her, ‘welcome to my world Stephanie!” We bonded over that and also over talking about the awareness for safety we women have to have when going out alone late at night.
By the end of our interview, I understood how challenging this journey through life must be for Stephanie, and for Bruce Jenner for that matter, because I was convinced that she was female through and through.
This weekend on “The Joan Jerkovich Show” we’re going to talk about “Finding A Job You’re Passionate About”, and “Growing Your Business”. Join us for empowering talk radio!