Episode 104: Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Ann Murdoch, Transgender Awareness
In this episode, Karen speaks with Lieutenant Colonel (Retired) Ann Murdoch, a recipient of the Legion of Merit and Bronze Star who served in Afghanistan. During Lt. Murdoch’s entire military career, in fact her entire life, she harbored a secret that could have cost her career, family and even her life. Although she had a male body, and by all appearances she was a married father of two children, she had known her entire life that deep inside, she was really a woman. She was, and is, transgender. As things got to a crisis point, she had no choice but to deal with her gender dysphoria, so she began a three-year journey to transition from living as a man to living as her true, authentic self.
Lt. Colonel (Retired) Ann Murdoch's Bio
Ann is an acclaimed speaker, activist and writer who has moved audiences with her uplifting and unflinching story of transitioning from a highly successful yet deeply depressed man to the joyful, authentic and still successful woman she has always known herself to be.
A recipient of the Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star and many other awards and commendations, Ann shares her insights from living on both sides of the gender divide and moving from a life of privilege to a life of authenticity.
Today, she uses her story to inspire and motivate people to break through doubt and fear to live their best, most authentic lives. She is writing a book: Operational Inclusion – happier people, stronger teams and outsized results through diversity, inclusion, critical thinking and leadership.. She also serves as the national president of the Transgender American Veterans Association and works for fairness, equality and tolerance for all people.
Intro Voices 00:04
Where do I go? It only happened once. I think I was singled out. The phone calls began about one month ago. What is hazing? Something happened to me when I was younger. I'm worried about my safety. He said he was sorry. Can someone help me? Where can I get help? Can someone help me? This is You Matter, a podcast for the NYU community developed by the Department of Campus Safety.
Karen Ortman 00:30
Hi, everyone, and welcome back to You Matter, a podcast created to teach, inspire and motivate members of the NYU community who have been victimized in some form or fashion and to identify resources both on and off campus that can help. I am your host Karen Ortman, Associate Vice President of Campus Safety Operations at the Department of Campus Safety, and a retired law enforcement professional. Today I welcome retired Army lieutenant colonel Ann Murdoch. Lieutenant Colonel Murdoch is here to share her story of transitioning from life as a man to living her true authentic self as a woman. During Lieutenant Colonel Murdoch's entire military career. In fact, her entire life, she harbored a secret that could have cost her her family, her career, and even her life. Although she had a male body and was a married father of two children. She had known her entire life that she was really a woman. She was and is transgender. As things got to a crisis point, she had no choice but to deal with her gender dysphoria. Lieutenant Colonel Murdock, welcome to you matter.
Ann Murdoch 01:48
Thank you, please call me Ann, I'm delight to be here.
Karen Ortman 01:51
I will do that. Thank you. And let me first begin by thanking you for your service to our country.
Ann Murdoch 01:58
Thank you. I appreciate your advocacy. I appreciate your service in your law enforcement career too.
Karen Ortman 02:02
Well, thank you very much. So it really is a pleasure to meet you. So let's get started. At what point in life, did you realize that you are not the gender assigned at birth?
Ann Murdoch 02:18
Somewhere around four years old is the first memory I have of just not feeling right. Of course, then I didn't have any words for it. And it was a long time before. You know, I understood more about what I was experiencing. And to be honest, that other people, there was other people that were experiencing the similar things that I was. I thought it was all alone.
Karen Ortman 02:42
you said you were four, at what age were you, when you were able to finally put into words? What you were feeling starting at the age of four?
Ann Murdoch 02:56
Ah, well, you know, so denial played a huge part in it because of so many anti trans stereotypes and tropes that were out there, and just the bullying and the transphobia that was just really rampant in the 60s 70s, even let in the 80s, although it was getting better. So there's a strong motivation to try to push it down and deny it. So on one level, I kind of knew on the other level, I strongly resisted admitting to myself, You know what, I really need to be the truth. But it was around about the time that Renee Richards was in the news a lot, she was a trans, I think she was an ophthalmologist, serious amateur tennis player who published a book in the 70s and was in the headlines a lot. And that's kind of when I started to gain some language to describe what I was experiencing.
Karen Ortman 04:07
So when you were a younger child, and you could not put into words, how you were feeling Did anybody ever ask you about it?
Ann Murdoch 04:16
I was deeply closeted. So I was very, very careful not to ever tip my hand. I was just really, tread very, very carefully. You know, sometimes I would wear my mom's clothes or my sister's clothes. And I would make sure that I remembered exactly how they're folded where they were in the closet, you know what's on top and underneath them so I could put the back exactly how they were before. So I escaped detection for quite a while. My mom did eventually find some clothes in my room and asked me about it. But you know, her approach was Don't Ask, Don't Tell And, you know, just pretend it never happened. And, you know...
Karen Ortman 05:04
So there was no conversation about it. Very little,
Ann Murdoch 05:08
very little. We had a conversation. And, you know, they said they would love me no matter what. But, you know, they didn't have language for it they conflated gender identity and sexual orientation. So they thought it was something about being gay, maybe.
Karen Ortman 05:28
how old Are you at this point?
Ann Murdoch 05:30
I'm probably 11 or 12.
Karen Ortman 05:33
Do you recall what the conversation was?
Ann Murdoch 05:38
Well, just that my mom said, she found some her clothes in my room and asked me about it and asked me, you know, kind of this both my parents, my mom and my dad were in the conversation. And you know, of course, I felt like, oh, no, the jigs up and it was very, very difficult for me. And I wanted to just end it as quickly any way I could. So they eventually sent me to a therapist, who had no knowledge whatsoever of gender identity, and I sort of reflected on everything and went one time, and that was it. And we just sort of swept it under the rug and didn't really talk about it after that.
Karen Ortman 06:29
Never again, while you were living in your parents house, did you talk about it?
Ann Murdoch 06:33
A couple other times, but not in any significant, meaningful way?
Karen Ortman 06:39
Ann Murdoch 06:40
it was like keep it on the downlow. And don't let anybody find out about it.
Karen Ortman 06:44
Got it. Tell me about your experience As a male person in Junior High, high school, college.
Ann Murdoch 06:58
Junior High was not a fun time for me. You know, I tried to fit in as best I could. You know, but I had no interest really in sports. In high school, my high school had a radio station, and I gravitated towards that, and gave me a place to hang out and sort of an identity in the group I could fit in with. So I sort of like most adopted personas. you know, to give myself sort of a veneer of what I thought a guy could pass for that wasn't into sports and things like that. So in high school in the radio station, I sort of adopted the rock and roller punk rock, persona. And you know, of course, punk rockers don't do sports. So that was my kind of cover. And then college it was, you know, Animal House and partying and drinking a lot. My masculinitywas by consuming a lot of alcohol, which, you know, it's not a good.strategy.
Karen Ortman 08:03
So yeah. At some point, you decided to pursue a military life. How did that come to be? You chose the army?
Ann Murdoch 08:17
Yeah, I looked at the different services. I didn't want to be on a ship. So I didn't consider the Navy. I didn't think the marine culture was for me, my brother was in the Marines. You know, he liked it. But I didn't think that was for me. And if I joined the Air Force, I would have come in as a lower rank. So I chose the army. And also because, you know, I knew this friend of mine who joined the army. So that's where I went.
Karen Ortman 08:51
When did you meet your wife? Was it prior to going into the army or after?
Ann Murdoch 08:59
It was after it was during when I was enlisted during my first assignment at the fort Indiantown Gap. And interestingly enough, we met in a community theater, because the secretary I worked with was involved in it. And she said, oh, you should go there. It's a great place to meet people. And I got a part and she didn't it was a production of mash. And okay, it was a lot of fun. And the people in the theater that were in the show, kind of, like set us up, like they said, Oh, we're all gonna go for drinks at this bar. Come on, you know, go. So she and I went, we're waiting for everybody else. And after a bit, it was apparent that Nope, they weren't coming and they set us up to be there together by ourselves. And we were fine with that, we've been together since
Karen Ortman 09:52
from high school to college, To going into the military How often would you say these feelings surfaced of feeling different?
Ann Murdoch 10:06
Every hour of every single day, like my entire life all the time? It just never stops. It never goes away.
Karen Ortman 10:14
When you met your wife, did you believe that those feelings would diminish in some form or fashion?
Ann Murdoch 10:26
Yeah, I hope they would. And I thought I could control it. And I did for the most part for a while. But again, she noticed some of her cloths were displaced and sort of led to a discussion. And it was not easy at all. But you know, we worked through it and talked about it. And yeah, it was definitely challenging.
Karen Ortman 10:54
So how long were you married before this conversation happened?
Ann Murdoch 10:58
Oh, probably about? See, somewhere around three or four years?
Karen Ortman 11:05
And at this point, had you had your children?
Ann Murdoch 11:09
No, not yet.
Karen Ortman 11:11
Because you have two children together, I believe?
Ann Murdoch 11:15
Yes, we do. Great, awesome People, I have to say.
Karen Ortman 11:21
Well, I'm sure they are, can you describe for our listeners who may be going through something similar how you coped with that internal struggle, I mean, your outcome, you had the conversation, and it worked out for you and your wife, and that's beautiful, you know that you're still together and life is good. But I would imagine that would, the fear of it not working out? Like that would make it very difficult for some people to confront the they're, you know, talking about their truth. ,
Ann Murdoch 12:00
h yeah, you know, few decades, even a few years ago, it was definitely unheard of just about that a couple would stay together. And it's certainly not the norm. I mean, it was really scary, because I've heard so many horror stories from friends of mine and other people I knew couples that were still married and happy, happily married. I knew other couples that had amicably separated, but others where it was just really bitter, and custody battles ensued, all kinds of things. So it was really, really scary. But I got some good advice, I have a dear friend who I had met in a support group. And she, and her wife took me and my wife into their home, you know, and talk to us, and were just so generous with their time and their support. And one of the things my friend told me was, you know, fill her tanks with love, you know, we have, she used analogy of like, a tank, and you know, you fill it with love, and you take love out of it. And, you know, you do need to make sure that you're taking care of each other, you know, in a loving way. And I realized myself that I loved her, I was gonna love her no matter what, and nothing was gonna ever change that. And if our circumstances changed, my love wouldn't change. And I also knew that it was really hard to come to this, but I knew that I couldn't lie, I couldn't lie anymore. And it couldn't. You know, if somebody needed a heart transplant, nobody looked at love, that person would scan in their way if somebody needed chemotherapy, nobody that love that person would die them treatment. So it came to finally accept that this is just a condition that some people are born with, for who knows what reason, and it's just the way it is, and there's treatment for it. And you know, it could be life threatening, but with treatment, it's, you know, not a horrible thing. And the treatment is to socially transition, you know, if that's what's right for the person, you go through a grief stage. And I think that's another thing I would definitely tell people about is with any big change, I think you go through some grief, whether it's something you want, like a new job, I noticed some grief when I retired from the Army even though I was ready. You know, you've given up your selection a core piece of your identity and, you know, respect and, you know, all kinds of things that go with it. It's tough to let go of, you know, even though you're looking forward to what the next stage and what comes next, and you're looking forward to not having to move all the time, and you know, not having to be away from your kids. So, there was a grief stage for her. And for me, I'm in transition, you know, so sometimes, you know, one of the stages of grief is bargaining, and people will bargain. And I've known people where they tried to negotiate what was within bounds for their transition. And they said, Well, you know, as long as you don't do this, or that, and I knew early on that I couldn't promise, I couldn't make any promises that I wasn't prepared to keep. So I didn't really negotiate what it did or didn't entail for me. But I also had to be sensitive and balance her needs and my needs. And, you know, there's the saying in the trans community that, you know, you've been thinking about this your entire life. And when you come out to someone, it's brand new to them. And they're not going to be at the same speed at the same place that you are. And you have to slow down sometimes and not leave somebody you care about behind.
Karen Ortman 16:32
that makes sense. Once you shared your truth with your wife, How did life change for you?
Ann Murdoch 16:40
Well, it was really, oh my gosh, it was it was a long process for us, probably a couple of years. And it was hard. I mean, I'm not gonna sugarcoat it, it was, because it wasn't, it wasn't a one and done thing. It was, you know, we had the talk. The initial when she first found out was still around, I think 1996 or so and, but, you know, I thought I could manage it, I thought I'd keep everything under control till after I retired. And by that point, my mom had passed away and things to start, it's sort of started coming to a head. And at one point, she said, Well, you know, you need to figure this out. Otherwise, I don't know if I can stay married to you. And that started the process. And it was just, it was really hard. And we had a lot of really difficult conversations. And you know, but after each of them somehow she said, things that hurt each other, you know, but like in any marriage? Um, but at the end of it all, we just knew we loved each other. And we just stayed with that. And you know, kept that front and center.
Karen Ortman 17:59
yeah. Wow, that sounds really inspiring. When did you come out to your colleagues in the military?
Ann Murdoch 18:12
Well, I was retired, before I transitioned. But I have come out to a lot of people that I served with. And I think uniformly, they've been extremely supportive. In fact, I, one of the reasons I took a job at the Department of Veteran Affairs is because they had a policies for trans veterans. And also, my former senior rater from the Pentagon when I was on active duty was the Assistant Secretary for human resources at the time. So I knew I'd have an ally, if anybody discriminated against me or anything like that, and I cultivated some allies, too. I talked to the Deputy Assistant Secretary for diversity and inclusion, who she thought I was gonna pass out in her office when I came out to her. She's like, gave me water and stuff. And then she said, Oh, you know, you're so brave, so proud of you. And oh, by the way, we have a draft transition in the workplace policy, and you can test it out for us.
Karen Ortman 19:25
Ann Murdoch 19:26
I tell people I'm the wind dummy for the VA trans policy, the wind dummie is a term from paratrooper the first chapter out the door. See, if the first chapter goes into the trees and the pilots know to adjust course. So overall, it was a it was a good initial experience. So when I came out at work, I talked to my boss and he set up a meeting and I wanted to tell my immediate colleagues face to face. So set up meeting and they're all like, Well, why are we having this meeting? We don't normally have a meeting on this day. And we'll fall into the meeting room and I got up and I said, Hey, I've got gender dysphoria. Treatment is social transition. That's what I'm going to do. pronouns are she and her, my name is Ann. And here's a few pictures of what I'll look like, there any questions? And I know, a couple of people said, some really supportive things and but the general mood was like, Oh, okay. All right. Are we done is that it? And one guy said, You want me to start calling you Ann now? I said yes please - Okay. And it was like, let's go back to work.
Karen Ortman 20:43
Were you comforted or surprised by the reaction, or lack thereof?
Ann Murdoch 20:48
I was comforted. I think by that point, I talked to enough other people that I wasn't overly surprised by the reaction. The one reaction I was really surprised by was I had a colleague, and she and I sorta, sometimes, butted heads and things like that. And as I was starting to grow up my hair, she said, and she was in the National Guard, and MP and said, Oh, you need to get a haircut. And she had very short hair. I said, you need your gray hair out. And she was going to another agencies, so I thought, I'm not even going to talk. Tell her about it. You know, she doesn't like me, so didn't worry about it. But she carpooled with a guy that sat next to me. And he must have said something to her. So my first day, so I came out on the Thursday, I went on a week's vacation to Colorado climb to 14er. And then so my first day back on the job in, you know, my new gender expression, which was, oh my gosh, walking in that first time was just like, ah...
Karen Ortman 22:03
what does that mean? That it was stressfull?
Ann Murdoch 22:05
yeah, it was terrifying, it was like oh, my gosh, here we go. There's no going back. But i came in, and they'd already changed my name on my desk. And there was a gift bag, and a card and I opened it up. And it was from this woman that I wasn't even going to come out to and tell. And it was a really super supportive card. And a nice little sign said the best is yet to come. And it was so - So the handwriting was so cute. I thought she did this. So this is generally a good experience that since I've faced some pretty intense episodes of discrimination from a couple of people.
Karen Ortman 22:43
from in the military?
Ann Murdoch 22:45
like for VA.
Karen Ortman 22:47
you mentioned a few moments ago about experiences with the VA, are there any sort of examples of issues you had that you can speak to?
Ann Murdoch 23:02
Sure be misgendered or con somebody, she when they go by he or he when they go by she or another pronoun when they go by Vai? Yeah, it's not respecting who they are. And their stated identity is really, I know, for me, and just about every trans person I know, especially right after transition when things are so raw, and you're so vulnerable. Yeah, it hurts so bad. And anytime, you know, somebody else speaks up and makes the correction and says, Hey, know, she or her or he, or if they called Dead naming using your old name, that's another that just really hurts. And, you know, anytime an ally speaks up, and helps defuse that, it's really appreciate it because it gets really tiring to hear that and, and people make mistakes, you know, so people, Miss gender, sis, people sometimes miss gender, you know, pets or whatever, it it's understandable, it happens. But what really is upsetting to me is when it does happen, the person you know, makes this big thing, they make it about them and they feel bad. So they want to be reassured that they're okay. And it sort of becomes a they do an apology that becomes about soothing their their embarrassment. Instead of you know, just simply apologizing to the person that was misgendered and letting it be about making sure that that person is okay. Um, and then other people say, Well, you know, you have to get used you have to have a thick skin you have to keep your head up and see you don't know I'm going through so please don't give me advice that you have No clue as to how it feels.
Karen Ortman 25:05
I think that's a really important point.
Ann Murdoch 25:07
Yeah. So, you know, one thing that was really nice was I was in the meeting, before I came out. So I was in a meeting about electronic health records. And one of my colleagues talked about the gender marker field, and said, hey, well, you know, we have to make sure that we have more than just male and female. And, you know, because not everybody identifies as male and female, and people need to make sure that it's, you know, that we're accommodating trans people. And I thought, thank you, thank you, thank you, here's a sis guy. You know, that's aware enough and speaking up, and, you know, helping to make sure that trans people are seen and recognized. And it was so nice.
Karen Ortman 25:54
I'm sure it's an it's validating, you know. And to not recognize not only the trans community, but the community in general, who is not always binary, you know, I'm sure there's a tendency to feel invisible, you know, and to be ignored as if your presence is unimportant.
Ann Murdoch 26:27
Yeah, you know, and people's identity is so core to who they are, and so important to people and to have it ignored or to be dismissed or mocked in any way, is extremely hurtful. And it doesn't matter if you're, you know, trans or straight, or sis or, you know, if it's a matter of gender, or ethnicity or language, you know, we want to be recognized for who we are. And it's not that hard. I mean, you know, you may be a little bit uncomfortable saying the they to a single person, but, you know, we can make that accommodation. It's not that hard. And it means so much to that other person. So, maybe we could just put ourselves out a little bit behind.
Karen Ortman 27:17
yeah. Do you want to speak to your experience in sharing with your children?
Ann Murdoch 27:25
Yeah, well, I think they were both in high school at the same time, at that point my daughter was in eighth grade. But there's a generational difference between people that are their age, and, you know, people of my generation and earlier and, you know, I knew that they both had trans friends already. And, you know, different friends in the LGBTQ plus community. And so it wasn't that big of a shock. I think it was a little bit. Took my son some getting used to he seemed a little uncomfortable at first. But yeah, he tells me now he's very proud of me. And we have a great relationship. And, you know, my daughter we've had some conversations to us it again, it took her a little bit of adjustment. Again, there's that mourning period, even no matter or grieving process, no matter how accepting we are. It's a big change. So you go through a little bit of grief. But at one point, right before my transition, I was just kind of checking in with them. And I asked my daughter how she was doing and she said, I'm getting ready to start high school. I've bigger problems than a transgender dad.
Karen Ortman 28:55
So Well, there you have it, what does transgender mean to you,
Ann Murdoch 28:59
it means living one's truth. It means being free to be who you are, and really making a decision to, to just be yourself and to live live as who you really are. Um, you know, in spite of what society tells you what your body may look like, you know, anything else, you know who you are. And it's that that willingness to take the leap and just be authentic and be out there and live your actual real life.
Karen Ortman 29:37
Do you think somebody would choose this life if they were not born this way?
Ann Murdoch 29:44
Absolutely not. No way. I'm in this support group you know, when people understood that there was something different about them. And almost across the board, it's four years old. So a few people said a little bit younger, few said a little bit older, and there's one or two that had significantly older, you know, times are were at an older age when they realize something's going on. And, some of these people didn't transition until they were in their 50s 60s Even 70s. So it does not go away, it doesn't change. And people in my generation, like I did, pretty much try everything you can think of to avoid having to deal with this reality. Yeah, um, and it doesn't work after 50 years of trying. By that point, I think you can pretty well conclude that it's not going to work. So it doesn't change. And so when a kid says that they're trans or they're, you know, they know, they're a boy, or they know, they're a girl. They know, they really do know, and it's not going to change.
Karen Ortman 30:47
Yeah. They were born that way.
Ann Murdoch 30:51
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.
Karen Ortman 30:53
Why do you think society gives people who don't follow gender norms Such a hard time?
Ann Murdoch 31:04
because I think there's a lot of reasons like that. I think we're sort of hardwired through evolution to gravitate towards people that are like us. So you know, back in the old days, you know, the prehistoric days, it could be very dangerous, you know, to be around, you know, your people are competing for scarce resources of food and water and things like that. So people banded together in their tribes. And they knew that people that didn't look like them were not other tribes. So it could be a potential threat. So I think some of that is, is hardwired into us. I think a lot of people like, they don't like uncertainty, or they don't like ambiguity. Yeah. And I think that's, you see that a cognitive is a cognitive difference between people. So people are very comfortable with, you know, many, many shades of grey and, and differences and ambiguity and paradox, and other people aren't. Yeah, and I think the ones that aren't had the most trouble saying, Well, you can't be this, because you look like that. Yeah. And then people like to have power over each other. So it's a way of controlling others by saying, No, I'm gonna force you into this box. Yeah. So those are those are some of the reasons why I think some people are challenged by the presence of trans people.
Karen Ortman 32:37
prior to making the decision to transition, did you rely on any person as inspiration or motivation to sort of get you through it?
Ann Murdoch 32:53
Well, my life was saved by people in the local trans community here who really supported me when I needed it. I was really scared. And I'm lucky that in the DC area, there's a strong trans community, and there's a lot of support services for trans people. So having those face to face connections, and be able to meet and see real life, people who had transition and were successful and had good relationships with their spouses and their, their children and their families. Was was absolutely life saving to me, and having the experience therapists in this area, I was really lucky, I went to initially went to a therapist to so many of my friends had gone to, and she was very well experienced. And, you know, I sat on the couch, and I realized that so many other people came to the same epiphanies as I did, I thought, oh, it's like the magic couch. And then when she she retired, I was really lucky to be under the care of another very good therapist. So having those resources was huge. Having access to medical support has been really important. And you know, it's also important, the legal protections for LGBTQ people are important. So you can be confident that you're not going to get out of your house and I know people who have you're not going to get run out of your job. And I know people that's happened to and you're not going to be denied health care and I know people that that's happened to. So all those things are really important.
Karen Ortman 34:51
You're lucky that you had so much available to you in your location. What about somebody who's living out in, you know, the Midwest or northwest - I'm not speaking to resources or lack thereof, I just don't know. But let's say there's, you know, somebody who's going through what you have gone through and they don't have the same support. Are there any national organizations? Or are the resources that you refer to in DC available nationally?
Ann Murdoch 35:31
Some of them are, there are national resources and geographic isolation is really tough. And the pandemic's only making it worse, of course. But there's a lot of good organizations, there's the National Center for Transgender Equality, has some resources Human Resources command, PFLAG is a really good organization. I'm the National President of the transgender American Veterans Association. So anybody that's a, you know, a veteran, we're here for you. So we can offer support and guidance, the VA actually does have a pretty good program for transgender care. And, you know, of course, the Secretary of the VA recently announced that they're going to lift the exclusion on providing gender affirming surgeries at the VA. So that's good. And there's a lot of online resources. So there's so many, the LGBTQ plus community is so diverse. There's a lot of groups that are kind of more niche within that umbrella that really helps support anybody that's, you know, either knows they're trans or is questioning or just trying to figure out where the standard just looking for community,
Karen Ortman 36:47
we spoke about your wife, we spoke about your two children. How has your extended family adjusted to your transition?
Ann Murdoch 36:57
Um, you know, it hasn't been an issue.
Karen Ortman 36:59
Ann Murdoch 37:00
Um, you know, I talked to my aunt, and she said, Well, one of my aunts, and she said, you know, something always seemed wrong about your energy before, now you're happy. I knew something was off.And I just didn't know what. And, you know, my dad had a lot of questions. And you know, I talked to him and he said, Do you want me to start telling people, I have two sons and two daughters now? And I said, Yes, please. And they said, Do you want me to start calling you Ann? I said, Yes, please. And he pulled out his old fashioned paper Rolodex. And he's pulled out the card with my name on it. And he's scratched out my old name. And he wrote in, and it's been that ever since.
Karen Ortman 37:43
Oh, that's nice.
Ann Murdoch 37:45
And I came out to my brother the same day - came out to my sister's she saisd awe, that's great. You know, I'll give you some of mom's jewelry. And my brother. And he was looking at a magazine and not really looking me in the eye and I'm thinking I'm telling you something really hard and important here. I told him and he looks up from his magazine. He goes, well, good luck where you want to go eat dinner. So,
Karen Ortman 38:14
Ann Murdoch 38:14
he's a man a few words.
Karen Ortman 38:19
How did you feel with your family's response? Did you feel validated and heard?
Ann Murdoch 38:28
yeah, very much. So. I mean, I wasn't surprised. But I was so happy and that's the biggest thing about it is just not to be keeping a secret anymore. It's so liberating and so freeing and so - it's the shame and the guilt that's toxic. Being trans is just the thing and it's manageable and it's something that's difficult but it's it's manageable, but it's the shame and the guilt that drives people to suicide and leads to you know, bad outcomes and when people are accepting and just can't recognize you as who you are. So much those those negative effects go away for are greatly diminished
Karen Ortman 39:20
what would you say to somebody who is transgender and is really struggling right now and lacks the support that you seem to have had with your family
Ann Murdoch 39:38
well, I know so many people that fall into that category you know, so I hang in there You know, I can't just say, Oh, it gets better because, you know, there's so many variables at play, but it can get better. It really can. You know, the obstacles seem huge and so daunting. But people manage and you can manage to, and there's a community out there to support you. Oh, sorry (crying)
Karen Ortman 40:29
your message is so important.
Ann Murdoch 40:32
I just I know people like that. It's so hard. It's heartbreaking. Sorry (crying).
Karen Ortman 40:39
Ann Murdoch 40:41
I would tell him to hang in there. There's a community out there, it's not going to be easy, but you can live your life as who you are, as who you really are, who you know yourself to be. It's possible. you just gotta keep struggling through it?
Karen Ortman 41:02
Ann Murdoch 41:07
Sorry no, no, no, it's okay. its spoken from somebody who has lived the experience, and you can't get any more valuable than that, you know, is there anything that you and I have not talked about That you would like to share today? Yeah, I just want to, like, express my appreciation for all the people that are supportive, and their allies, you know, and that are just trying to take care of each other and let everybody live their best lives. It's so much. I mean that's one of the things that gave me encouragement when I was first exploring my gender identity and sort of testing the waters to see if it was even feasible to transition because I really didn't think it was. And an all these unexpected places, like where you would never think, and people of all different age ranges. And, you know, they were kind to me. And, that told me that it was safe to go forward. So I want to thank them.
Karen Ortman 42:23
that is so special, and I thank you for coming to talk to me today and sharing your story and being vulnerable and honest, because your story and your insight is going to help people I know. So I thank you.
Ann Murdoch 42:45
Well, I thank you very much for having me on. I think it's really important. I have the privilege directly to be visible. And so many people helped me so I feel obligated to try to do what I can to help other people. And as I tell my story, you know, it's been interesting that you know, so many other people share their story about, you know, I had a boss who had cancer, and she was very close to the vest about it. And after I came out to her, she opened up about her struggles with cancer and found out how much our different paths are similar. and all these other things that people share that I know, I had a colleague that I worked with for several years. And only after I transition, did he feel comfortable sharing with me what it was like to be the only black man in the small Midwestern town where he worked and how women would cross the street when he walked down the street. And, um, you know, I never, he never, we never talked about that before. But it was only after a transition that he felt comfortable. And I can only imagine, you know, how hurtful that is because he's the nicest guy. You know, so it's been an eye opener to me, and it's a privilege for me to be able to, you know, share my stories and receive, you know, the stories of other people that they that they entrust with me.
Karen Ortman 44:08
well the privilage is truly mine. And it was really an honor to meet you and talk to you. So I thank you very much.
Ann Murdoch 44:17
Well, I thank you very much. And again, I applaud what you're doing. It's such an important thing.
Karen Ortman 44:21
My pleasure, I couldn't do it without people like you. So thank you once again to my guest Ann and to all of our listeners for joining us for today's episode of You Matter if any information presented was triggering or disturbing, please feel free to contact the Wellness Exchange at 212-443-9999 or NYU's Department of Campus Safety and their Victim Services Unit at 212-998-2222. Please share, like, and subscribe to You Matter on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or Tune in.