Trans-gendered woman speaks out; answers questions about transitioning

Sports icon and reality television star Bruce Jenner is opening up about by all accounts, his journey to become a transgender woman.

His interview will be seen by millions of people, putting a spotlight on a segment of the population that has not received much positive attention. 

Juli Myers is a transgender woman who may not have as big of an audience as Jenner, but she has a similar message. She transitioned late, and shares the message that transitioning is a difficult journey, made easier with support and understanding.

It's 10 a.m. in an Estrella Mountain Community College psychology classroom, and Juli Myers is in her element.

"I'm here today to talk about the transgender experience, specifically my trans experience. You can ask whatever question is on your mind, whatever you want to know. I don't embarrass easily, and I don't shame easily. If you can think of it, I've probably been asked it before anyway, so just go ahead and raise your hand and ask," said Juli Myers.

The story of Juli's life flows out of her. "I was born James Douglas Myers Jr., and I was called Jimmy," she said.

Born in a boys body, with a brain that insisted she was a girl. 

"I spent most of my life depressed, anxious, sad and suicidal... you can't fathom what this is like to have to pretend every day of your life," said Myers.

"I've been married three times, and I was honest and upfront with each, this is how I identify, I don't know what I'm going to do with this, I want to try to be the person that everyone expects me to," she said.

About four years ago the stress became too much and with the support of his wife, Jimmy became Jill.

"I said I need to talk to you; she said you have to transition, and I said yes. She started to cry, and she said we'll call the doctor Monday, we went to the doctor, and there was no looking back at all," said Myers.

"The hormones starting working more quickly than I expected, and by the end of the month here was Juli, that's how long," she said.

She calls it the best decision she ever made, but so many transgender people never make it to that point.

"The official number is 41% of all born with gender dysfunctional syndrome are suicidal. They never take into account the people who never leave a note, who go out quietly... I don't think you'll find any demographic where half the people have attempted to end their lives," said Myers.

Juli says Jenner should be considered a survivor, and she hopes Jenner gets a lot of support.

"Imagine living 65 years like that, and you'll know what it's been like for Bruce Jenner," she said.

Ironically it was another athlete, a trans-woman who went public who gave Juli hope as a child.

"Thank heaven for Phil Donahue, it was on his show that I saw Renee Richards. Renee had been born Richard Raskins and and was an ophthalmologist and a men's tennis player before transitioning in 1975. Renee was one of the first to put herself in the public eye and answer questions," said Myers.

And now Juli is doing the same thing.

"My daughter is 12, and people her age and a little older, seem to just get it. Where people of our generation have to struggle to try and understand," she said.

Before the transition Juli's youngest daughter, Rhiannon said her dad was never relaxed, rarely happy. 

"Now I can sit here on the couch and talk for hours about my day, and she will be there listening," said Rhiannon.

Listening and comfortable because she feels she is finally living the life she was supposed to live.

"It's difficult, it's incredible difficult, and the hurdles are many, but I feel that it has been worth it. In myself, I get to be myself," said Myers.

"I am the luckiest woman I know," she said.

One of the most common questions people have is; did you get the surgery? Juli says most trans people want to have the surgery, but it's expensive and usually it's not covered by insurance. At costs of up to $50,000, some can not afford it.

Does anyone ever regret transitioning? Juli says she never met anyone who says they have regretted it.
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