Trans Woman Who Came Out At 62 Recalls How Weight Lifted Off Her Shoulders
After living publicly as a man for more than six decades, 64-year-old Mary Elizabeth Power has opened up about why she came out as transgender when she did, and reflected on the best and most difficult parts of the experience.
Mary, a retiree living in midwestern Texas, was brought up as a Southern Baptist, with her father a Southern Baptist minister.
She was just four years old when she put on her little sister’s dress while playing, but when her father caught and spanked her for wearing the outfit, she quickly learned that in her family it was ‘not okay for boys to wear dresses’.
Of course, just because it wasn’t accepted didn’t mean it changed how Mary had felt while wearing the dress, and from that point on she would ‘pray every night for God to make [her] a girl’.
Speaking to UNILAD, Mary recalled how she ‘fumbled’ her way through junior and high school, all the while not really knowing how to express even to herself what she was feeling about her identity. She knew she wasn’t gay, because she didn’t like boys, but still felt she ‘never really fit in’.
At the age of 19, while still in college, Mary decided to ‘give the whole guy thing a try’ and get married, starting what she described as a ‘rocky nine years’. Mary and her partner at the time welcomed ‘three wonderful children’, but they ultimately got divorced when Mary was around 30 years old.
It was at this time that Mary began to question whether she could ‘continue to ignore the truth’ about who she was, so she called an information line about being transgender after seeing an ad in the paper, which read, ‘Do you feel like you’re in the wrong body? Call and let’s talk.’
The woman on the phone convinced Mary to go to a support group, and for the first time in her life, Mary went out in public dressed in women’s clothing. Before this, she had dressed secretly in women’s clothes and underwear when she was by herself. She shaved her legs and underarms, but every now and again she would become overwhelmed with guilt and throw everything away.
The support group meeting marked the first time Mary ‘really admitted to [herself] that [she] was trans’, however she felt she ‘didn’t have the guts to continue’ at that point, and went on to get married again to her second wife before divorcing again a few years later.
Reflecting on how she battled with her true identity and the self she was presenting to the public, Mary explained:
For the longest time after I accepted myself, I’d try to deny it. I was brought up Southern Baptist so it was sinful. I discovered role-playing games and later video games where I could ‘pretend’ to be a woman, and still feel safe.
I would tell people who saw my avatars that I just enjoyed looking at a pretty girl while playing. All the while still occasionally dressing in secret.
At the age of 55, Mary moved to Texas to live with her eldest daughter and be closer to her other kids and grandkids. When she moved into her own home a few years later, she started once again dressing as a woman while home alone.
This carried on for some time until one day Mary’s eldest daughter, who is a therapist, came to see her and Mary decided to come out. Thankfully, her daughter was very accepting and happy for Mary, and she encouraged her to go out in public while presenting her true self.
Feeling ‘overjoyed’ at the first few outings, Mary felt she ‘couldn’t hold it in any longer’ and told the rest of her kids and grandkids before finally, at the age of 62, she decided to ‘officially start living full time as a woman’.
As she was ready to show the world who she really was, Mary met with a lawyer to set in motion a legal name and gender change, she scheduled an appointment with a doctor, and filed for an amended birth certificate. With ‘everything coming up roses’, Mary then decided to tell her family back home about her transition. Unfortunately, however, her siblings ‘refused to accept it’.
They didn’t want ‘anything to do’ with Mary after they found out she was transgender, and she recalls being ‘broken-hearted’ that they wouldn’t accept her.
The now-64-year-old has since chosen to leave her siblings out of her life, though she told UNILAD they are still trying to get her to ‘come to [her] senses’, as if she can change who she is by trying to contact her and intentionally misgendering her.
While Mary says the hardest part about coming out was ‘just getting up the guts’ to tell her daughter, she was then able to enjoy the best part, which was ‘the sense of the weight lifting off [her] shoulders and the joy of finally being a woman’.
Though Mary believes she would have worried less about ‘her face’ if she had come out when she ‘first realised’ she was transgender, because at that point she ‘had hardly any hair’, she’s not sure how her life would have been different if she had come out any earlier.
When it comes to other people who may be struggling with their identity, however, Mary has advised everyone to be themselves, saying, ‘Don’t let anyone tell you who or what you are.’
She added, ‘When you find yourself falling off a cliff, you might as well try to learn to fly.’
Now she is living proudly as a trans woman, Mary is vocal about her transition on social media and is looking forward to celebrating Pride Month. She lives in Lubbock, which actually celebrates Pride in August, but when the events begin, she is definitely planning to take part.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers.
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