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Sunday, May 13, 2007

INTRODUCING SUSAN

Largo, Florida City Manager Steve Stanton lost his job when he announced in February that at the age of 48, married with a 13 year old son; had chosen to live the remainder of his life as a woman. Introducing Susan Ashley Stanton.


LARGO -- She couldn't sleep. She lay for hours in the dark.

In the morning, she would pose for her first portrait, at age 48. All her life, she had dodged and wavered and contemplated every avoidance, even suicide. Now, 12 hours to go.

She got up at 1 a.m., made coffee. She took a mug into the den of her Largo home, pulled out her red journal and started to write:

So here I sit. Alone in the early morning hours. Waiting for the rest of my life to begin.

Her debut would come after four decades of self-examination, in the dust of a leader's best-laid plans, in the remnants of her family. It glowed with the promise of possibility. Like new skin.

She had already lost her job, her friends and her home -- the things that gave her an identity -- for admitting she wasn't the person they knew. Now that she was showing them a second self, would they reject that person too?

She knew that some people would never even see Susan Ashley Stanton.
They would see a man in a dress.

Shedding a life usually means starting over, quietly, somewhere else. Slip town. Get a new job in a place no one knows your name.
For Steve Stanton, that wasn't an option.

He had been Largo's city manager for 14 years. He had rappeled with the firefighters and broken his nose with the SWAT team. When he decided to become a woman, he told only a few people. His wife knew, his son did not. But in February someone told the newspaper.

Then came the speedy firing, and then CNN, the Daily Show and Larry King. Then came the pack of lesbian lawyers telling him whom to talk to, what to say.
As Steve, he was forceful, powerful in a governmental, almost dorky kind of way. Now he took orders. He waffled.

No one really wanted Steve any more. They wanted Susan. But who was she? She was a celebrity no one fully knew. Not even Steve.

Atlanta's Gay Pride Parade asked Susan to be grand marshal. A Chicago transgender convention invited her to speak. The city of Sarasota named Susan a finalist for its city manager job.



Tiptoeing through this transition is Steve-Susan. He is a thinner, longer-haired version of his former self, wearing too-big suits and folding his hands in a girly way.

On Tuesday, things change. Susan will meet with U.S. congressmen to lobby for trangender rights.

Paparazzi will mill around the Capitol. Gone is the carefully crafted plan of how to control the image of Susan. When she emerges in Washington, her photo will likely hit the AP wire and be transmitted around the world.



St. Petersburg Times
By LANE DeGREGORY
Published May 13, 2007

6 comments:

BostonPobble said...

This is one of the bravest things I have ever read. I want to meet her. I want to shake her hand. I want to embrace her and call her sister. Having never needed such courage, all I can do is admire it.

And still, there is a part of me that longs for the day when it isn't such a big deal for the general public (because finding our true selves will and should always be a big deal ~ of miraculous proportions ~ to ourselves.) Hopefully Susan is helping to pave that road.

Nancy said...

I am glad she has allowed herself to be free. I can not imagine being trapped in a body for that many years. I hope her family is supportive but if not I hope she is happy...great post

cats said...

susan, you go girl!!!

leone said...

How courageous!

"T" said...

Fascinating. I've watched this entire thing unfold.

I wish her the very best

...and a little more acceptance and tolerance(in this world) wouldn't hurt.

D-Man said...

How brave it is to be yourself in a society that is so ignorant of transgender issues.