News of a Personal Transition
Hi! I am pleased to share with you news of a personal transition.
If you’re reading this, it means you have known me as Anthony or, likely, Tony (or, I guess, it’s possible you never knew me at all). It also means you’ve likely known me as a boy. Upon receipt of this message, however, you will no longer know me as those things.
Instead, you will know me as Anna Lauren Hoffmann—a proud and (as of this moment!) fully out transgender woman.
The short version (of the recent history of a much, much longer story): in the fall of 2012, after a long and private struggle, I began working with a counselor to address issues of depression and anxiety tied to deep questions regarding my gender identity. In spring of 2013, I began discussing options for physical transition with doctors in the Madison area. Last fall, I began hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In the time since, I have been transitioning socially–living increasingly as a woman and slowly shedding the boy identity that served as a crutch for so many years. As of this posting, I live exclusively as myself (which, upon reflection, is a super weird thing to say).
At this time, I am pleased to report that I am the happiest and healthiest I have ever been. Transition has been difficult—impossible at times—but I’ve found an amazing network of support. I am lucky to have had only positive experiences with medical and mental health institutions. My counselors and doctors have been amazing and the nurses at my clinic are lovely. I’ve had new friends and family meet me with warmth and encouragement; I’ve had old friends come through for me in awe-inspiring ways. Most importantly, my partner, Mariah, has gone to superhuman lengths to make me feel beautiful and validated in my chosen identity. She has been a warrior for me, our relationship, and our future family. I can’t imagine making a life without her love and support.
A welcome side-effect of my transition has been a return (and then some) of my ability to focus and work. I am happy to announce that, pending a successful defense of my dissertation, I will be graduating this spring from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee with a PhD in Information Studies. Most importantly, I will be defending and (fingers crossed!) graduating as Anna. I look forward to that moment as a further symbol to myself and others that transgender women are strong, bright, and beautiful individuals deserving of support and recognition.
In addition to this news, I want to talk briefly about those aspects of this transition that are a choice and those that are not. Yes, the decision to start transition was a choice (and an incredibly difficult one, fraught with serious social, economic, and political consequences). The decision to take the name Anna was a choice. Finally, the decision to live openly and proudly in a way that most resonates with the core of my being was a choice. In the end, it was a choice to not cower in the face of hard truths about myself and even harder truths about the world.
Other people like me will make different choices on their path. Some will transition sooner, some later, and others never. Some will seek medical or surgical intervention, others will not. Some will transition and live in their chosen gender identity without disclosing their trans status. Some will take on different identities or labels. I want to stress that these are all valid choices. In coming out, I lend my voice and my life to the idea that people should be free to choose their path without having to unfairly risk unemployment and lack of access to health care or face severe threats of social exclusion, violence, and death. To those who have also had to make impossible choices, whatever those choices have been: I affirm and support you.
What was never a choice, however, was the struggle against the body I was born into. Difference was thrust upon me from a very young age–my earliest memories are colored by confusion and heartache with regard to my gender identity. I have, for many years, carried a great deal of shame, the toxic effects of which I wish on no person. Along the way, I’ve made some poor choices. In the long run, those choices led me down a path of depression, despair, and a disregard for myself and others. If my struggle ever impacted you in negative ways, I offer my profound apologies. Truly, I wish you nothing but peace. To borrow a line from Zadie Smith, I hope life offers you fine weather and ends properly, “like a good sentence.”
In transition, I’ve chosen a new and different path, one that has allowed me to move through depression and renew my relationship with myself. Along the way, I have found a heightened sense of empathy and compassion for others. For the first time in my life, I am full of hope and optimism for the future. It humbles me to be able to share this feeling with you.
In closing, I ask that you respect my choices by recognizing me as Anna and using feminine pronouns (she/her/hers) from this point on. More than that, I hope you will affirm and support me as I move forward in my life as a happy, healthy, and proud transgender woman.
Like a good sentence,
16 Mar 2014 / Anna Lauren