Willow

Herndon, VA

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My name is Willow. I work in cyber-security, I’m a wife and parent, and I’m a transgender woman. I grew up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin and even as young as six, I knew I was a girl, and not a boy, even though I couldn’t express it.  Not having the vocabulary to understand who I was and properly express myself affected my relationships with friends and the people in my life. In college, I met my future wife and we eventually moved to DC, got married, and had a son. Unfortunately, hiding my gender caused a lot of friction in my marriage as well as personal turmoil. I wasn’t my best, happiest, or most authentic self and my family and I suffered for it.

 

I eventually made it to therapy with my wife’s support, and I began to finally accept myself as the woman I always was. My life changed after this. My marriage was on firmer ground, I was finally free to live as my truest self, and my four children loved and accepted the real me. Not everything was easy – I lost long-lasting friendships, but also gained new friends and allies. The first time I went to my daughter’s school event presenting as a woman, her friends’ moms hugged me and I was touched by their support. At my job, I was able to transition, but they initially pushed back on me using the women’s restroom. I also began to be assessed differently as not only a woman, but a transgender woman.

 

Almost as soon as I started transitioning, I wanted to help other people pave their own path as well. I’m the head of my work’s LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, as well as a co-facilitator for a local support group for parents of transgender and gender nonconforming youth. I also advocate to make schools welcoming places for all children. I don’t want anyone, whether myself, the kids I help, or their parents, to have to worry about their ability to get a job, make purchases, go out with friends, or find a place to live just because of who they are.  We need nondiscrimination protections in housing, employment, and public accommodations so we can all meet our basic needs and focus the rest of our energy on not just surviving, but thriving.