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Helen Hampton has lived in southern California most of her life. In this piece she describes a situation in her family that might have remained hidden in an earlier time. More people are now discussing such issues openly. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles by participants in a writing class at the Norwalk Senior Center. Bonnie Mansell is the instructor for this free class offered through the Cerritos College Adult Education Program. Curated by Carol Kearns
My nephew Danny was born in 1946. He was the first of two boys. From a young age Danny always sensed that something was different in the way he felt about himself. For example, at the toy store he was always drawn to the dolls, while his brother Larry would go to the trucks and cars.
When Danny was a young man he married a woman named Nancy. Their marriage broke up because Nancy came home early one day and found Danny wearing one of her nightgowns! Eventually Danny remarried, and he and his new wife Jan had a daughter Tara.
Over time Danny felt an increasing need to live as a woman. He saved his money with the goal of having a sex change operation. When he was forty-three years old he went to Colorado and paid $35,000.00 to have the surgery. And so he became my niece Diane.
The sex change wreaked havoc on Diane’s family life, for she was still living with wife and daughter. It was especially hard on Diane’s daughter Tara, who kept saying, “You killed my daddy!” Tara attended therapy for several years, and over time both she and her mother adjusted to Diane’s new life. Now they have become a very close and loving family.
Diane found a new job to go with her new life as a woman – she became one of the top saleswomen at Nordstrom’s in the women’s clothing department. When my girls shopped there they loved to be assisted by her.
My brother Daniel still has trouble accepting the fact that his son has chosen to become a woman. Although they remain very close, he still calls her by her boy’s name. From the start, Diane’s brother Larry refused to accept Diane for having become a woman. They remain estranged to this day. Diane is so thrilled that my two daughters and I have fully accepted her as a woman. I loved him when he was my nephew Danny, so I could not turn my back on her when she became my niece Diane.
Published: April 17, 2014 – Volume 13 – Issue 01