Last year, the Interrobang received a letter from Kimberley, a transgender individual reaching out to those in the Fanshawe community who need support, and opening the dialogue of what it means to be transgender.

Kimberley is a closeted male to female transgender. She has not undergone transition so to any one walking by her, she looks like any other man. But she is very much a woman inside, something she realized at three years old. "I knew things weren't right," she said. As a child in the '50s, she had to "learn to be male."

"I did all the boy things. I had to, whether I wanted to or not," she said.

This double life carried through the '60s into adulthood. "Like most people in my situation, I took on a macho career very young, figuring that'll 'cure' me. That didn't work," she said.

She stayed hidden, "buried," as much as she could, but it came as a cost.

"I suffered for it, we all do."

She married, had children and carried on a "normal" life. Then about seven years ago made the difficult decision to come out to her wife who "was shocked to say the least," but Kimberley maintains her wife always knew there was something different about her husband.

That reveal created a strain on their marriage that still exists today, despite the fact that the couple just celebrated their thirty-fifth wedding anniversary.

Kimberley's journey has been a long one that involved many moments of "hitting the wall" as she calls it, or going through moments of massive stress — one such moment culminating into a suicide attempt in 2002.

Eventually she inquired into the mental health community and got the help she needed. It also helped that she met someone, Donna, a vice-president at an American investment bank, who was going through the same thing.

She also started a Transgender London website as a means to help people not just in the community, but around the world. In one instance, a woman in the American army was dealing with hitting her own walls. Kimberley was able to work with others on the site to get the woman safe and out of the army in a process that took about five months. Today she is doing extremely well, said Kimberly. "She's one of our many success stories."

Kimberley hopes to help others through their own journeys.

"Walking the halls (of Fanshawe), you don't see many people," she said. "But I know they're there, no question. I want to put out a feeler, reach out. Help someone avoid some of the pitfalls I've had to go through for the past 60 years."

One of the main hurdles she hopes she can help with is reaching self-acceptance. "There's no denial, you learn to accept it and live with it."

"Part of coming to self-acceptance is you have to get over it. We grew up with shame, fear and guilt."

She acknowledged the confusion young adults might be facing in addition to identifying gender; there are questions of sexual preference and possibly the involvement of religious conflicts. There's also the lack of mainstream conversation on transgender individuals. While it appeared accepted by the mainstream with popular celebrities like David Bowie, reality is different.

"Facing the workplace: am I employable? Can I be myself and still be employable? The answer is often no," said Kimberley.

For those starting on their journey, Kimberley offers some words of wisdom.

First, find some peer counseling — not necessarily someone of the same age but someone who has gone through it and has reached a good place. Also, learn as much about what you're going through as possible, she said. Find a professional counselor. In London, there are three psychiatrists who deal with transgenders, said Kimberley. "You need someone who deals with a humanist, existential approach. Finally, if you are in distress, then reaching out to someone is paramount.

In terms of logistics, health care is also an important factor to consider. While finding accessible healthcare can be difficult, it's still important to never pursue hormonal therapy without it. "Do not seek hormonal therapy over the Internet," said Kimberley. "It could be life-threatening." In addition, she advised to take care of your sexual health.

But overall, reach out to those in the community and outside of it. "If I can't help, I can put them on the right path," said Kimberley.

"You'll lose friends over (this) — that's fine. You'll find new ones. Keep yourself safe and don't take unnecessary risks."

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