When Steve Became Susan Steve Stanton was fired from his job as city manager of Largo, Fla., just as he was planning to transition to a life as Susan Stanton. Nine months later, Susan talks about how life has changed and where she goes from here.

When Steve Became Susan

When Steve Became Susan

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Steve Stanton was fired from his job as city manager of Largo, Fla., just as he was planning to transition to a life as Susan Stanton. Nine months later, Susan talks about how life has changed and where she goes from here.


She said "One Tree Hill." Oh, Chad Michael Murray.

Well, back in March of this year, the city council of tiny Largo, Florida, near Tampa, voted to remove its city manager Steve Stanton, not exactly big national news - except for one thing.

(Soundbite of Fox newscast)

Unidentified Man: Former Largo City manager on the Tampa area Steve Stanton is now Susan Stanton, underwent a gender change operation, and Fox's Lee Anne Jackson(ph) has more.

BURBANK: That's right. After 14 years as city manager and 48 years of being a man, Steve Stanton announced he was becoming Susan Stanton, an announcement met with a healthy amount of suspicion from friends, co-workers, his wife and son.

Well, in the intervening months Susan Stanton has become sort of a poster lady for the transgendered movement. She's written a book, has been on "Montel," and has attended fancy events in Washington, D.C. She joins us now by phone. Hi, Susan.

Ms. SUSAN STANTON: Well, good morning. Good morning.

BURBANK: Thanks so much for coming on the Show. Can I just start by asking, what exactly is your status right now? You live as a woman, but you haven't had reassignment surgery?

Ms. STANTON: Yes. That is correct, which is not all that unusual. Typically, before the surgery, you want to ensure that your chosen gender is the one that's appropriate for you and that you're comfortable interacting with society. So that's what I'm doing now. And it's been going superb.

BURBANK: How long before you have the surgery, you think?

Ms. STANTON: I'm going to be having it in May of this year coming up. And, hopefully, we're even going to have CNN, who is doing a documentary on my life, participate and film, and be able to show people what it's like when someone goes to this process to eliminate some of the confusion that transsexualtiy is not a lifestyle.

BURBANK: Hmm. Presumably, you figured that you were born into the wrong body, right?

Ms. STANTON: I don't know if would use that term.

BURBANK: How would you describe it?

Ms. STANTON: I would say that the - my spirit and my essence were out of synch and at a very early age there was sort of like a sense of two presence and the real one was Susan. My - I can remember my mom telling me what my real name would have been and that was the - that was really the feeling of: That's who I am, and that's what I'm doing now.

BURBANK: You mean your real name? In other words, did your mom think she was having a girl?

Ms. STANTON: You know, no, she didn't. In fact, when I asked her, Which did you prefer, a girl or a boy? She said it, you know, it wasn't important to her. She just wanted a healthy baby. But my name would have been Susan, and it just absolutely felt, in a very profound, intrinsic way, that that's really who I was. That's why the outside didn't match the inside.

However, I've never felt I'm trapped in the wrong body. I love my body. It functions well, and I don't want to trade it for somebody else's body. The changes that I'm making are kind of external. I'm still going to be the same person I was prior to all of the sensational media coverage on this one particular aspect of my personality, my life.

BURBANK: You're married, I understand. Are you still married?

Ms. STANTON: Yes, I am. We are. We're kind…

BURBANK: And you have a son?

Ms. STANTON: Yes, we have a son of age 14.

BURBANK: How did he take this?

Ms. STANTON: Well, initially, this is really a wife's worst nightmare. It doesn't happen frequently, but quite more often than most people would think. But during the last seven months, she's become to be much more supportive. In fact, her and my son were at my home last night having a family dinner just because we missed each other. So, very well. We're not going to be partners in marriage, but we're going to be partners in life, and celebrate the love of our son.

BURBANK: What's the look in your son's eyes when he looks at you now, and you're a woman?

Ms. STANTON: You know, he's - he still sees daddy. He still calls me dad -calls me daddy. He'll always call me daddy. I think he realizes the superficiality of this whole aspect. I'm still his father. My core values, my essence, my unconditional love for him and for me has not been affected by any of this.

BURBANK: Are you attracted to men or women?

Ms. STANTON: You know, I'm kind of neither right now. I'm in a very awkward stage. Typically, gender identification and sexual orientation are very distinct phenomenons. Some transsexuals, when they make a total transition, in fact, do marry men and become, you know, very stealth in society, and you will not even know that they once occupied the role of a man. I don't know. I mean, I don't know, and that's an honest question. Six months from now - six months ago, I would have never even suggested that maybe someday I may be married to a man. I don't know.


Susan, you obviously thought this through, and you consulted with your friends, and maybe clergy, or - and maybe even - did you talk to a psychologist at all before you decided to do this?

Ms. STANTON: Oh, geez, yeah.


Ms. STANTON: Absolutely, yes. Absolutely, yes.

STEWART: So in your preparation - your emotional preparation for this, what is the one thing that has blindsided you, that you really didn't expect, the feelings you didn't expect to have?

Ms. STANTON: Probably, the biggest - and it's something that I think most women also can relate to - it's a feeling of vulnerability. You - when your body changes, your body chemistry changes, you lose all of the muscle mass you used to have as a man. And I realize that I'm not as strong as I used to be. I'm not as fast. And when I'm in areas that are a little bit disconcerting. I feel extremely vulnerable in ways in which I never felt as a man. And that's a sensation I'm still learning how to maneuver around and accommodate in my life.

BURBANK: You have sort of become this poster person for the transgendered movement. Is that all it's cracked up to be or would you rather just go back to being a city manager somewhere in Florida?

Ms. STANTON: Well, certainly, I wouldn't want my life to be ruined, which, in some respects, you know, this transition can be a death sentence. But I made a conscious decision that I did not want to do this in the darkness of night or to just lose my job and leave it without people knowing why. In that sense, I knew I was going to have a national platform and was willing to suffer the consequences, if I lost my career, to make it a little bit easier for other people coming behind me. And in fact, that's occurring.

BURBANK: You applied for the city manager job of Naples, Florida, and you didn't make the top 16. What do you attribute that to?

Ms. STANTON: You know, I believe that one - that's new news to me. I do not know. The…

BURBANK: Really? Well, check out the Tampa/St. Pete paper. That's what they're saying.

Ms. STANTON: Oh, well, you know, in the public sector, typically, a little bit behind the private sector on this thing. This - the aspect of transsexuality is still something that most people are just learning to understand. Most of the media coverage thus far has been very negative. We all have the mental images of Jerry Springer. And I think that's a big concern as well as our government's worrying about this national focus on me. Can I do the job of a city manager anymore? Is that behind me?

BURBANK: Well, Susan Stanton, formerly Steve Stanton - first of all, sorry I had to tell you about that job. That's a little out of…

Ms. STANTON: That's quite okay.

BURBANK: Well, good luck though with everything in the future. Your book, I understand, you have a book coming out. Is that going to have a publish date yet?

Ms. STANTON: No, it does not. We're still looking for the best publisher, and hopefully soon, I'll write it.

BURBANK: Susan Stanton, thanks for coming on the BRYANT PARK PROJECT.

Ms. STANTON: Mm-hmm. Goodbye.

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