A revealing behind-the scenes look at the real lives of transgender women

Leslie McMurrayI was asked recently by a dean at the UT Southwestern Medical School to come speak to a group of medical students about LGBT issues. In my case more specifically, about being transgender. She said I ought to help the students understand how I live my life.

I think that’s important. Much to my surprise, how transgender people live their lives seems to be shrouded in mystery and intrigue. Apparently, there is even a fair amount of fear, since places like

Houston, the states of North Carolina and Mississippi and a bunch of other places feel the need to pass legislation to keep me from using a public restroom in order to protect women and children.

Kansas even added in the extra bonus of a $2,500 bounty payable to students who turn in transgender classmates trying to use the bathroom.

So I think maybe helping people understand how I live my life might change their minds about wanting to isolate or punish us just for existing.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to “How I Live.”

I live in a northern suburb of Dallas County with my girlfriend Katie, my border collie “Breezy” and my girlfriend’s three kitties. I work for a non-profit helping low income Texans pay their health insurance. My girlfriend is an attorney.

I drive a car that I love, but it’s 14 years old and has more than 237,000 miles on it. I’d love to buy a new one, but that’s not in the cards anytime soon.

I love to cook and people tell me I’m good at it. I also love to bake things from scratch. As a hobby, I make scented candles, mostly around the holidays. I enjoy golf and playing Frisbee with Breezy.

Katie and I get up about 6:30 every morning and I make coffee, let Breezy out and update my journal. I play with Breezy for a while, then I wash my face and put on my make-up and fix my hair. I get dressed and head for work, along with a few thousand of my closest friends on I-35E.

I love the people I work with and the people I’m able to help during the day. My job is a difficult one with plenty of challenges, but rewarding.

I get off around 5 p.m. and head home in traffic. I give Katie a big hug and a kiss, change out of my work clothes and try to find time to play Frisbee with Breezy a bit before heading in to fix dinner. We usually watch Netflix; House of Cards, Archer and various movies are our current favorites. We both love live theater.

I have a Facebook account and I am pretty well connected in the transgender community nationwide. I do a fair amount of media and public speaking on the subject. I read a lot of what is written about us — both good and bad.

It can be exhausting and demoralizing to see the constant barrage of lies being told about us by those with an agenda or an axe to grind against the LGBT community as a whole, because transgender people are easy targets. It seems to me that marriage equality has angered a fair number of people, especially from the religious and political extreme right, and they are taking out their frustration on me.

I also read articles of support from transgender allies. Believe me, we need all of you that we can get. I am so grateful for every word of support, and I urge you to stand up and help fight this injustice.

Katie and I love to shop and to go out to eat, especially on weekends. We each ride Harley Davidson motorcycles. I’m not sure if we face more judgment because we are women, because we are bikers, because we are lesbians or because we are trans women. Frankly, I’d prefer you just treat us like anyone else.

We don’t make our dinner decisions based upon safety issues. We go where we want. We have several favorites around the DFW area and we’ve never had a problem — anywhere. We are friendly and outgoing and we tip well. A few places recognize us as regulars and refer to us as the “tall girls” — and that’s fine by me.

A project we have going now is putting in a flower garden at home and that’s a work in progress. A few more trips to Home Depot and the nursery ought to do it.

I have two daughters, and they each live a full day’s drive away from here. But we make the drive to see them when we can. They are each super supportive of me and the relationship we have now is better than it was before I transitioned. I love them dearly. It makes me sad to think of them reading some of the horrible things said about transgender people — but they know the truth.

Seeing my physician has been interesting. I have had to help educate him on transgender healthcare. I have also had to pick and choose when I see him because I haven’t had medical insurance for more than three years.

A lot of that has to do with being transgender, because what I needed done wasn’t covered by insurance. It was very expensive being discriminated against, but I was one of the lucky ones — I had the resources to pay for my transition. But I also no longer have money saved for my retirement.

Life is full of tradeoffs.

Katie and I hope to go to Europe one day. We also want to see Washington, D.C. I also hope we can get married.

I’m optimistic things will get better, but it still hurts me deeply to see the hate focused in our direction. We aren’t perverts and we aren’t dangerous. We love life, we love each other and we love our country.

That’s how I live my life. It’s really nothing spectacular. I’m pushing 60, my joints ache sometimes and my hair is pretty grey so I get it colored every three months. It’s a good life. I’m finally at peace and finally truly happy.

Leslie McMurray, a transgender woman, is a former radio DJ who lives and works in Dallas. Read more of her blogs at lesliemichelle44.wordpress.com 

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 8, 2016.