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Michaela Raymond, Valerie Conner and the Courage to Come Out

Michaela Raymond and Valerie Conner
Michaela Raymond and Valerie Conner

Coming out in her 70s after nearly 22 years of marriage. Love is still love.

As I aged and went in the Navy and then into police work shortly after the Navy, I knew I was different. I still didn't realize that I was transgender because it was not a term used much at all - or ever used. Transsexual was used occasionally, but you didn't hear any details on that. And finally, in, say, the nineteen eighties, transgender started to enter my mind as a definition for myself. And I thought, well, you've been stuck with this your whole life.- Michaela Raymond

Michaela Raymond came out to her wife Valerie as transgender after more than 20 years of marriage and 70 years of hiding herself. Valerie responded with love and curiosity. Three years later, they continue the adventure together, sharing their story.

Now feel some necessity to be a source simply because I was not a strong enough advocate prior to transitioning and I thought, what can I do at my age? I can't move furniture…, but I can talk about the normalcy of LGBTQIA + . The gay community is a normal part of every society and people…it’s part of human nature. It's been there since the beginning of man. I'll say man, but I really meant woman. – Michaela Raymond

In this Area Voices, hear how Michaela came out, what her first solo trip to the ladies clothing store was like, and how their perspectives on things have changed through this process.

I was surprised…it totally threw me immediately and then I thought, what does this do to the marriage?...Nothing... I don't know why it was just that easy, but it was. I was very methodical. She said, "I'm a transvestite." And my first thought was, OK, I think that's a cross dresser, but I'm not sure if there's more involved. So I said, "let's have definitions here… Just what are you?" And the answer was a cross dresser…The way you get to be greater is not to stifle people's potential. All of civilization has stifled - whether it's over race, or women, all of that... think where the civilization would be had, for millennia, everyone been allowed to develop to the fullest potential. Mind boggling. – Valerie Conner

I saw a statement the other day that I want to paraphrase. I'm not proud to be a transgender female or a transgender. What I am proud about is that. I finally had the courage. – Michaela Raymond

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Katie Carter started at Northern Community Radio in 2008 as Managing Editor of the station's grant-funded, online news experiment Northern Community Internet. She returned for a second stint in 2016-23. She produced Area Voices showcasing the arts, culture, and history stories of northern Minnesota.