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GUEST COLUMN My journey, my story
by Angelique Munro

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I honestly knew ever since I was able to speak that I was not like other little girls. However, I didn't understand why until much later in life.

Physically transitioning from male to female, or becoming the woman I was meant to be, is a unique and individual process. There is no "right" or "wrong" way to physically transition—or to decide not to do any medical procedures. This is my story and I did what works for me.

While some trans women may choose to undergo Gender Reassignment Surgery ( GRS ), others may find that Hormone Replacement Therapy ( HRT ) is sufficient. Transitioning, regardless of what it entails, is a long, expensive and risky process that can lead to rewarding results. My advice is begin at a very slow pace, be patient and surround yourself with supportive friends and family members.

The start of my transition journey began after my Mother died Jan. 13, 2006. I was finally free then, I was able to seek out a therapist and begin HRT on March 19, 2006. I allowed the hormones to work and slowly change my body, my breasts grew to a full B, then on Jan. 13, 2010 I had gotten full D implants. I researched five doctors and found one that I really thought did the best work, Dr. Gregory Turowski in Skokie.

As we all know, for many, many, many years transgender people only had street resources of street hormones without any kind therapy, and back rooms where people would pump you full of silicone ( or at least that's what they said it was ) and those results can be very dangerous and sometimes deadly. So in 2018 we have the resources, so please seek a qualified therapist. Remember this is your body and you only have one life to live.

According to the HBGDIA WPATH Standards of Care, you must see a gender therapist prior to receiving hormones or undergoing surgeries. Browse the internet in search of a therapist experienced working with members of the trans community. Commit to the therapist that makes you feel at ease. If your therapist is not a great fit, don't be afraid to switch to a new counselor.

I was diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Any diagnosis can be uncomfortable and yet once again under this huge umbrella called "transgender," what I want out of life may not be the same as what you want and that's perfectly OK. For me I knew I was born in the wrong body and having a penis is very uncomfortable. I do not care what diagnosis or what you want to call it, all I know is I want to feel complete as a woman.

Over the course of a series of sessions, your therapist will evaluate your individual situation, issuing a diagnosis. After determining that you have consistently experienced symptoms such as disgust with your genitals, a desire to remove signs of your biological sex, and/or a certainty that your biological sex does not align with your true gender, your therapist will likely diagnose you with gender dysphoria.

— You must experience these symptoms for at least six months.

— Be honest with your therapist and yourself.

— Gender dysphoria does not mean that you are diseased or broken; it simply means that you are not content with living as your assigned sex. Doctors write this down so they have justification to give you the pills, therapy and/or surgery you want or need.

— Gender dysphoria does not necessarily mean a sad mood. If you have been feeling depressed or anxious, tell the therapist. You may benefit from treatment for that as well.

In 2011, I was introduced to the fabulous attorneys at Transformative Justice Law Project which guided me through my complete name change and gender marker. See .

I say select a name that reflects your personality as a woman. Changing your name takes time and requires patience. Start the process early. First, file a petition to change your name with the Chancery division of your Circuit Court. On your appointed date, you will appear in front of a judge with your complete paperwork. If all of your documents are in order, the judge will rule to officially change your name. Following your successful court appearance, purchase original copies of the court order. You will have to use these throughout the process of changing your name on legal documents. The process and forms vary from state to state.

People always ask how did I choose my name? Well for me there is definitely meaning behind my name of choice. One night while doing a guest spot at the Baton Show Lounge, a group of guys mistook me for some girl named Norma Jean and my Drag Mother Monica Munro said two things to me. She said "you're nothing like that girl, you're very much an 'angel' which makes you very 'unique.'"

So I went home that night and I was thinking about what Monica said and I wrote down the word "angel" and the word "unique" and that gives you Angelique.

People tend to be very curious and ask what are procedures I've had thus far: I never wanted to alter or do anything to my face or body besides have a name change, go on HRT, and get breast implants. Honestly, all I ever wanted to be was be as "natural" looking as I could be—I'd rather blend in with society than stick out.

For me my obvious next step was to consider vaginoplasty. Once I found out my insurance would cover it, I became extremely emotional. I never thought I would be alive to see the day the surgery would happen for me. So I began searching the Internet, reading everything I could about the surgery, researching doctors and I found a doctor right here in Chicago at Weiss Memorial Hospital. Shortly after I began electrolysis on my kitty area to prepare for gender confirmation surgery.

March 9, 2018 is the beginning of a new chapter in my life—I will undergo my gender confirmation surgery.

During this procedure, surgeons work to convert my penile and scrotal tissue into a vagina, clitoris and labia. After this procedure, my genitals will appear feminine. Yes I will be able to have sexual intercourse and reach orgasm. This surgery is irreversible. So make sure this is the right thing for you.

Thank you for all the love, support and donations over the years to help me achieve the reality of my gender confirmation surgery.

I am so excited.

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