September 17, 1999

It had been almost three months since being discharged from a two week hospital stay after my suicide attempt. Having no home to go back to I was lucky enough to have a caring boss, Chet, that allowed me to stay in a spare bedroom. Chet and Joann were wonderful people. I still owe a great deal to Chet for saving my life for it was he that found me unconscious in my foyer after not showing up at work for two days. I was close enough to death that had he not found me when he did, I wouldn’t be here today.

I was now able to walk unassisted, no longer needing crutches and was going into the office each day trying to pickup on my projects from months before. By now, everyone at work knew that I was a closet transsexual because just prior to leaving me, my wife told my father-in-law and mother-in-law. The worked at the same company in a different office and felt it necessary to tell everyone else. It didn’t take long for the few hundred co-workers to all find out. Because of this, any fear I had of “coming out” was moot. I was “outed”. I decided there was no longer a reason to wait. I would transition.

I still wasn’t comfortable thinking of myself in a female role. I also didn’t know where to start. My first contact, Dr. Brown, at the Johnson City Veterans’ Administration hospital, told me that his program had been shut down just a week prior. He referred me to a support group in Knoxville that met at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church.

It took a lot of courage to make the commitment to go to that first meeting. I was still presenting as “Justin” at the time. I didn’t have my own place to live and I had very few clothes. I was saving what little money I had left over from child-support and bills my ex-wife incurred for an apartment.

I walked into the group meeting room. My first honest reaction was revulsion. Through my eyes, I saw a room of middle aged men in drag and I asked myself if this was really the life I wanted to live. It would be some time before I was able to see people for who they truly were rather than what my eyes and prejudice showed me.

I was curious about the transition process and SRS (sex reassignment surgery) and as fortune would have it, the group moderator announced a guest speaker for the evening that was running a bit late. The speaker was going to talk about what to expect during SRS.

I’m a very pragmatic person. As far as religion goes, I was saved and baptized when I was nine years old. However, I grew to become a skeptic. I cannot totally discount my religious beliefs so I may at times describe myself as agnostic. Nevertheless, I never have believed in anything metaphysical or extra-spiritual. I never have believed in fate or pre-destiny.

Then she walked into the room.

It’s hard to describe the flutter of my heart or the way my breath escaped me. I never understood what people meant by a soul mate, but at that moment I knew this person was the other half of my soul. The emptiness that I had always felt was on the verge of being filled.

I did not know until some years later that Jaime had the same experience that night.

How lucky or blessed am I to be able to find that which I never knew I was missing, to be complete, to be in love? Yes, we’ve had difficult moments in our relationship like any other couple, but for the most part, when there are no distractions, I get that same feeling when I see Jaime walk into a room. I know that when she’s not around I feel empty, but when I’m holding her I’m invincible.

September 17th will always hold a special place in my heart for that’s when I discovered that angels walked on Earth and that one of those angels gave up their wings to fall for someone like me.

It’s been a great 13 years. I love you Jaime!