By Liana Jacob
MEET THE daughter who was left shocked after finding wigs and sex hormones in her father’s bedroom leading to the revelation that they identified as a WOMAN.
In summer of 2005, teacher, Jessica Newsom (34), from Baton Rouge, LA, USA, was just 20-years-old visiting her parents from university, when she walked into her dad’s room, previously named Jeff, and found wigs in the corner, which she assumed were from a Halloween costume.
It wasn’t until she came across a bottle titled progesterone, an endogenous steroid and progestogen sex hormone involved in the menstrual cycle, that she started to panic and called her boyfriend at the time to explain what she found.
A few hours after the revelation, Jeff came home, sat her down and explained everything. They assured her that they enjoyed dressing as a woman and it was something they liked to do since they were very young.
Jeff also explained that whenever possible, they would try on Jessica’s mum’s dresses when she wasn’t home and walk around the house in her clothes. Jeff now goes by the name Julie and she has fully transitioned.
It took Jessica a couple of months to process the news and she has a two-year-old son, Clark, who calls Julie ‘grandma’, while Jessica calls her by her name. The family have embraced Julie’s journey as a transgender woman and since then Jessica has supported her during her drag night performances.
“I moved away from my family (from Michigan to Louisiana) when I started college in 2003 and in the years that followed, my mum was diagnosed with breast cancer and my parents separated,” Jessica said.
“As I was not living close to home anymore, I was confused and often felt it was my mother’s fault as she started seeing another man during her treatment.
“I would speak with my parents on the phone, but I never got any answers and when I came to visit, that’s when I found out my dad was dressing as a woman.
“I was home on a visit in 2005 and I had this odd feeling to go into her room. This was not even on my radar, but my mum said, ‘your dad has some things to tell you’.
“I wasn’t sure what to expect and when I saw the wigs in the corner, I thought, ‘that’s weird. Was that from a Halloween costume?’ And as I was looking around the room, I saw some prescriptions.
“I had this sinking feeling; I went to the internet to find out what it was, and while I was reading its purpose I started freaking out. I called my boyfriend at the time and explained what I had found.
“I didn’t know how to react, what to do, or what to say. I remember just walking around the house not knowing what to do, just feeling unsure about what had been happening with my family.
“I had often felt responsible for my parents splitting up, but I started to realise that there were many factors which I hadn’t expected at all.
“It was later that day my dad told me what was going on; they came home, and I felt a little odd, but it wasn’t very long before they sat me down and told me that they enjoy dressing as a woman.”
Jessica described how her dad, who now identifies as Julie, discussed the feelings she has had since she was a child.
“Julie explained that it was something that she enjoyed since she was little. She explained that whenever she had the opportunity to put on my mum’s dresses when we weren’t home and walk around the house, she would,” said Jessica.
“She then removed her socks and also showed me her painted toenails and talked about how she loved the feeling of nail polish on her nails.
“My next visit home she was dressing as a woman more often. She still went to work as a man but came home and started to go out in public as a woman. This is where we went out to ‘T-Girl’ nights and she found her tribe.”
Julie explains how she felt at the time when she began to identify as a female and her emotions when she decided to tell her children.
“Initially I was filled with numerous emotions, depending upon the circumstances. I was excited and exhilarated to be able to express my gender identity, but in public situations, I was nervous and apprehensive, wondering if people would accept me,” she said.
“Going to work for the very first time as Julie was incredibly nerve-wracking. Fortunately, things went well, and I’m mostly comfortable and accepted.
“I was very nervous, even embarrassed. I very much wanted their acceptance, it was difficult. But I always tried to raise them as open-minded people, so there was some confidence that they would be accepting. It was a huge relief to get it over with.
“My life has settled down dramatically. My mind is no longer so occupied with gender issues, and I’m no longer very attached to the transgender community.”
Julie had told her ex-wife soon after their divorce and they had a meal together while Julie was being herself.
In 2009 she decided she wanted to live her life as a woman and officially changed her name in 2011. In May 2015 she underwent sex reassignment surgery and was accompanied by Jessica.
“I told my ex at a time we were separated, and we had already filed for divorce. She was extremely surprised at first but accepted it very quickly. We got together soon after at my apartment for dinner, with me ‘dressed’,” Julie said.
“I was concerned, particularly with my son and those ‘father’ type issues. However, both of my children were adults at that time, and I had faith in their acceptance.”
Since Julie’s transition, she has been receiving support from her daughter, Jessica, who would accompany her to drag nights, cheering her on.
“When I met my husband, I told him on our first date about Julie to see his reaction and when he acted like it wasn’t a big deal, I felt like I was in good company,” Jessica said.
“It was strange seeing my dad as a woman and trying to act differently to appear more feminine. Going out in public is different than being at home because she is trying harder to make her voice softer and seems slightly nervous sometimes about her mannerisms.
“I gave her immediate love and acceptance to live the life that made her happy. In the beginning she would dress in drag on weekends and I would go out with her occasionally to watch her lip sync at drag nights.
“At home she just seems like the same person to me and we have a lot of fun talking about music, tv, and politics. Watching her perform was a strange mix because I have always seen my dad dance and sing just like that, but not in high heels.
“Julie and I still get along great. We try to see each other once or twice a year, now even more so that she’s a grandma.”