I have known many of you a long time and others a short time. Some of you I have yet to meet. What I must tell you is very difficult for me and is taking all the courage I can muster. I am writing this both to inform you of a significant change in my life and to ask for your patience, understanding and support, which I would treasure.
I have been diagnosed with Gender Identity Dysphoria. I am transgender. I have been in therapy for it for many years. This is something that has been a big part of me since early childhood. I always had a sense of not fitting in to what was expected of me as a boy and later, a man. For most my life I sought validation and acceptance; trying to fit in to a social norm that I felt was expected of me … but never succeeding. Being in a body that does not match my mind and heart has caused me great loneliness and despair.
I cannot begin to describe the inner turmoil that I have faced for most my life. There comes a point in a journey like mine where all that you fear losing by finally being true to yourself (including the loss of your family, friends, career, and even life) is diminished by the reality of what you WILL lose if you do not face it. I have now come to this point in my life. Towards that end, I have begun taking the steps to live my life with complete authenticity as a woman. I have been under the care of an Endocrinologist since February, 2013 at which time I began hormone therapy. In March, 2013, I underwent significant surgery. I continue to receive extensive care through my psychologist. All of these changes within my mind, body and soul have brought me to this next important and necessary step in my life.
March 21, 2014 will be my last day in every part of my life as a man. After a brief vacation with my family, with the incredible support and leadership of my employer, Alberta Health Services, I will return to my current position at the Stollery Children’s Hospital as a female on Tuesday, April 8th, 2014. My name after March 21, 2014 will be changed legally to “Marni Marcelle Panas”. It would be appropriate at that time to begin using my new name and the proper pronouns for my true gender when referring to me (e.g. “She”, “Her”, “Ms.”).
As many of you are aware, I have been married to a wonderful woman, Laurina, for over 15 years. She has known about this side of me since a month into our relationship. Together, we have endured many challenges. Among the most challenging was the birth of our twin boys, Alex and Andrew, who were born 3.5 months early, our lengthy journey in the NICU and, eventually, the passing of Andrew. These experiences have not only brought me to my role at the Stollery, but also to this place in my life where I have learned the value of being true to one’s self. To live each day fully and without regrets. To truly appreciate each special moment. To love yourself completely so that you are able to love the other special people in your life unconditionally. I am very grateful that Laurina is accepting of the real me and we are both committed to our marriage and raising Alex with an open mind and heart. Our family unit has never been stronger or happier. I feel so very blessed to have their love and support as we move forward in our new lives together.
I am also very grateful for the incredible support I have received from many of you who I have already shared the news of my journey with. It is through your friendship and support that I have gained the strength to continue down this road.
I realize that some of you may have difficulty understanding my transition. I am committed to full transparency and honesty as I travel down this new road. I am open to any respectful dialogue that may provide a deeper understanding of the issues that transgender people like me face in our society.
At this stage in my life, the three most important things to me are living authentically, loving my family unconditionally, and creating the best possible environment for our patients, families and staff.
I look forward to you getting to know the real me; Someone who is happy, genuine, confident, dynamic, energetic, and compassionate. Thank you for supporting me on this journey and in my new gender role.