A Short Story About A Long Trip

robyn001In 1991 I was a pretty young transvestite and wanna-be drag queen in San Francisco, exploring my gender and sexuality. I called myself Robyn. I was very happily “out”, I had lots of fabulous friends and support in the queer community, but also had a punishing, self-destructive, and addictive side that eventually won out.

1991-92. I am 23 years old and weigh 145 pounds. I am happy for the first time in forever. Happy to have found a place in the world that feels right. But I am addicted to alcohol and tobacco and marijuana and prone to depression and isolation.
1991-92. I am 23 years old and weigh 145 pounds. I am happy for the first time in forever. Happy to have found a place in the world that feels right. But I am addicted to alcohol and tobacco and marijuana and prone to depression and isolation.

By 1996 I was an angry and lonely fat man, imprisoned by self-esteem issues combined with alcohol and food addiction. The shame and sadness I felt about losing my beautiful and feminine self was life threatening. I fell into addiction and isolation and self-loathing for many reasons, but shame and confusion over sex and gender was a big part of it.



In 2001 I entered 12 step recovery and lost 175 pounds and got totally sober. One cannot overstate the life-changing effects of such a profound transformation. It was like coming back from the dead. A massive rush of joy and delight at being in the world. It was also a total reset moment–Who am I? Who am I going to be?


I emerged determined to be as “wholesome” as possible. I was happy to be alive again and just wanted to be “normal”.  I tried to give my identity a good hard look through therapy and 12 step work and I felt like I was on the right path at the time. I wish I had looked closer at re-visiting my feminine side with clear and sober eyes, but I was dismissive of it. I think I blamed and resented Robyn for “making me fat.” The damage my body suffered during obesity resigned me to thinking about my body as male.


JUNE 2000 350 lbs
JUNE 2000 350 lbs
June 2002 180 lbs

In 2004 I fell in love and soon entered into a straight, monogamous marriage. I was open with her about my previous life, but I insisted that my gender and sexuality issues were a thing of the past. In retrospect I was dismissive and in denial and was unwilling to admit how much being Robyn had meant to me.

We had one wonderful child, and for that it was all worth it.

But there was always something a bit off, and no matter how great my life was I just didn’t LIKE myself very much. I had put myself back into the closet, assumed an identity that didn’t feel right. I was a grumpy and unhappy husband a lot of the time. We had a lot of good times, too, don’t get me wrong, but that’s not what this story is about.



Over time, I found that my bisexuality was harder and harder to ignore. In opening that question to exploration I becoming increasingly honest about myself…with myself…and with other people…



I discovered, somewhat to my surprise, that I was (and always had been) transgender. (I can and will say much more about that later. For now…yadda, yadda, yadda…TRANS!)

Releasing myself from decades of deep denial I have found a truth that brings me both incredible happiness and heartbreaking loss.

The famous Robyn wig…when I first put it on I recognized myself again. A 47 year old version of Robyn. I don’t use it for day to day life, but it was the bridge to transition for me. It showed me what was possible, and that for all of the superficial flaws and imperfections there is a fundamental joy within me that must be allowed to exist.

It’s not convenient for anyone that I am transgender, myself included.

But it’s the truth.

So. I’m not going to spend another DAY on this planet without being who I want to be.

Spring 2016: Hair going out, hormones beginning to take affect, and happily living openly trans full time. Miles to go in transition, but the joy and confidence I have carry me smoothly through daily life.

Update, August 2017: The last year of living as Robyn has been pretty wonderful. I love who I am and each day I am joyfully grateful I get to be who I am. I have many advantages to be sure. White privilege, passing privilege, even a fair degree of pretty privilege, plus enough resources and social capital to live in the educated liberal oasis of the San Francisco Bay Area. While my marriage is dissolving in a loving and conscious manner I have the love and support of my child, his mother, her family and our community, which is my most valuable asset of all. My own family is estranged and while that is a source of some pain it is not something I dwell on or fight against. When we accept who we are and choose to follow the path of transition we know that there will be loss along the way. There are consequences to living openly as yourself, including causing distress to people you love, which is never easy. There has been heartache and loss along the way, and at times my life has felt like it is completely on fire, but at the center of it all I feel grounded and true. I am always happy that made this choice.


Update, February 2019.
Good lord, where to begin? Facial Feminization Surgery in August 2017. Divorced, amicably but with pain. Co-parenting my son. Self-employed. Living alone again. Boyfriends! Someone fell in love with me. It didn’t work out, bless his heart. I learned a lot. Sex Reassignment Surgery in March 2018. Went perfectly. Great decision. Works well. Zing-zing. Facelift and breast augmentation. Feels like medical transition is complete. I’m making art again, realizing how much I denied everything about myself including my talent. Stay tuned.IMG_3140

Update: September 2021

Photo by Robert Fischer Photography
I’m really glad I transitioned to be who I am now!!
As for many of us, the last year and a half was hard on me psychologically and emotionally. In particular I went through a nasty bout of self-doubt and internalized transphobia, feeling like I was wrong to make the change that I did for many different reasons. The fact is, after years of telling myself I couldn’t do this, that it would be wrong or weird to do it…those negative ideas didn’t just vanish once I transitioned. In fact, when things got hard they got louder and…meaner. It’s something I’ve had to consciously work against and I’ve really turned the corner on it, practicing self-love and affirmation, deepening bonds with people who love me, and just really getting sick and tired of those bad feelings.
I’m really doing pretty well and I’m delighted with the woman I’ve become. I’ve got challenges ahead of me and I don’t have all the answers, but I’ve got good friends and family who have my back.
It’s amazing after all those years of disliking myself to be able to say I feel like a beautiful person, inside and out.

14 thoughts on “A Short Story About A Long Trip”

  1. I love you! Your honesty and courage are so inspiring to me. Thank you for so beautifully sharing your story.

  2. I’m so happy for you, that you’ve made it to this point in your life’s journey, Robyn. It saddens me that your road has been so fraught with so many unpleasant challenges, but you’ve shown yourself that you have the strength of character to keep fighting for the life that fits you and your loved ones, best. I applaud your victories, and your fearlessness. Thank you for sharing such a personal and inspiring story.

  3. Robyn, I can’t pretend to understand how this journey must have felt. I would say, all the people that love you only want you to be happy. You look beautiful and your smile is infectious. My prayer for you and others like you, is peace, love, and acceptance. We are all children of God.

  4. Think of yourself as the ultimate customized mego action figure. You started out as one character and have re-imagined yourself into a completely different identity. I appreciate you sharing all this for those of us who met you in 1996. Thank you.

  5. Wow Robyn.
    So real.
    And raw.
    And…well… hysterical..
    “Yadda yadda yadda…TRANS!” (LOL!)

    Just like you.
    Thank you for your story.


      1. Jazz-Hands! Love!!!
        So glad you are living your truth, at long last.
        xoxoxo~cousin Kat

  6. Wooowww

    I am impressed!! I love your story and your magnificent journey and your courage to show it all!

    Well done and my admiration for your great come back!!!

    Bug hug!

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