What is it like to be born in a body you cant identify with? Your parents buy you trucks and trousers but you gravitate towards dolls and dresses.
As you grow people explain you shouldn't like these things, its the wrong choice. Then, as you become an adult you find through modern medicine and acceptance you may be able to live as the person you feel destined to be through Gender Identity Reassignment (GIR). But, its not that easy.
Andrew Citino of St. Petersburg, Fl, thought he was a lesbian, he struggled with depression and drug addiction then had he says, an epiphany. Others in the community directed him to seek therapy as he started gender reassignment transition from a woman to a man. Citino is not alone.
Michael Keefe, Executive Director of Transaction, Florida's only state level advocacy organization dealing with transgender issues says his decision for gender reassignment wasn't easy. "The biggest loss for me was in the community at large, the neighborhood I grew up in losing some of my lifelong friends, eventually losing long term employment, and a relationship."
The number of people seeking GIR may be greater than thought.
"In the greater Tampa Bay area we've identified about 3500 people that we've personally worked with or that some of our partners have worked with and State wide that would mean about 200,000 people identifying as trans-gender in the State of Florida"
After decades as a rock n roll guy in Sarasota, Jami Gee, married and father of two grown boys is speaking out about her decision of gender identity reassignment.
"Sometimes," Said Jami Gee, "They'll sit there and look and and they ask and I say, its OK i was born a man." She explained that kids in her class helped her decide to practice what she preached and have the courage to make her dream a reality and live the life she imagined.
Therapy is usually the first step, hormone therapy, living as your destined gender then surgery if one chooses is the final step. There are advocacy groups that support, help and offer information on the Suncoast.