Triangle Speakers

I'm a member of Triangle Speakers, a Santa Cruz speaker that provides panels of LGBT folks to talk at schools, businesses, and community groups to promote diversity by letting people meet some of us up close and personal. The format we use is for each of the panelists to give a three-minute autobiography. Then we spend the rest of the time answering any questions the audience members care to ask us. It's lots of fun!

This is my three-minute spiel.

Hi! I'm Lannie. I'm a transsexual woman. I hate saying that, because it sounds so freaky. I usually just say I had a sex change-which I did. About three years ago I had my sex change surgery. Two years before that, I had no idea any of this would happen. I always thought I was a guy!

I was born in New Jersey and I grew up in Southern California, in the San Fernando Valley. Gag me with a spoon.

I was a happy kid, a straight-A student, my high-school class valedictorian. I was nerd, and I thought this must be what nerdy little boys are like. I had 12 years of Catholic education. I was even an alter boy. Now I'm an altered boy.

When I hit puberty my life stopped working. I never had any girlfriends, even though I liked girls. And I never really made any guy friends once I got out of high school. I couldn't figure out what I was doing wrong. I was lonely and miserable. To deal with the pain, I drank heavily-alcoholically in fact.

I came up to U.C. Berkeley to study electrical engineering. Then I moved to San Jose. I worked at Intel, Tandem Computers, and a string of loser start-up companies.

Desperate to find something that would bring a little joy into my life, I discovered wearing women's clothes turned me on. I became your average, heterosexual cross-dresser. (By the way, almost every cross-dresser I've ever met has been straight, not gay.)

Eventually I discovered there are bars and clubs where people like me hang out. For a couple years I was a middle-aged, cross-dressing club kiddie, and I had a blast.

I started meeting transsexual women-and transsexual men, too. I found out that people really do get sex changes, and they really do work.

When it first occurred to me-seriously-that I might actually be a woman, even though I had a male body, it came as a total shock. I couldn't believe it could be possible. But it only took four months of therapy for me to see that my life worked a whole lot better when I lived a woman, and that was OK. So I transitioned my gender presentation from male to female. Once I was living full time as a woman, it became clear to me that I really am a woman, and so I had my sex change surgery to become comfortable with my body in my female identity.

I'm really glad I did it. I feel good about myself. I stopped drinking and doing drugs. I've started making friends. I took up ballroom dancing. I changed careers-now I'm writer for a small marketing firm in Redwood City. I'm not making nearly as much money as I made as a male engineer, but I love it anyway.

You might want to ask me about my surgery, my sexual orientation, my marriage, or what happened when I came out to my family. You can ask me anything. I love talking about myself.

I'm a Triangle Speaker because I love talking about myself. But mostly, I want to be an example that it's OK to be who you are, whether you're gay or straight, masculine or feminine, androgynous, transsexual, whatever. In fact, it's not just OK, it's critically important to be your authentic self. It's worth you happiness. It's worth your life.

Thank you for having me here today… and letting me talk about myself!

—Lannie Rose, 5/2006