Windsor·PROUD TO SHINE

'I've never been happier in my life': Transgender woman came out at 66

Though she knew her decision to come out as transgender would affect her marriage of over 40 years, Jamie Defoe says she couldn't bottle up her feelings any longer. 

Jamie Defoe says she's never been happier in her life

Jamie Defoe says she's never been happier in her life. (Jason Viau/CBC)

Jamie Defoe publicly came out as transgender when she was 66. 

Though she knew her decision would affect her marriage — as well as the rest of her life — Defoe said she couldn't bottle up her feelings any longer. 

"I'd been married for 40-plus year [and] by all accounts it was a very happy marriage," she said. "But the last probably 10 years of that relationship was starting to be strained, because of what was going on internally."

Defoe said her journey started sometime in her 20s. She recalls thinking certain thoughts and looking at certain people in a way that confused her.

"I would look at a woman … and be admiring her and studying her from the point of view of how does she wear clothing, how is her makeup done?" said Defoe. "And these feelings were so confusing to me, until I realized what was going on."

Though she tried to compartmentalize her thoughts and attempt to move on, Defoe said feelings of confusion always came back.

"Life would go on normally, but then it would come back again, sometimes weeks, months, years later," said Defoe. "But every time that same reaction to seeing things or people came up, it would be more powerful every time it came back."

... these feelings were so confusing to me, until I realized what was going on.- Jamie Defoe

Though the 68-year-old Defoe has been open about her identity for a few years, there are still moments when she's nervous about how others would react.

Defoe is a peer mentor, support worker and president of the board at W.E. Trans Support, but she also began working at Caesars Windsor in April 2019.

She says she was intimidated during the initial interview, but grew more at ease once she saw she was able to be herself with interviewers and other potential candidates.

Defoe says her workplace reinforces inclusivity and diversity, adding she's had a wonderful experience with co-workers, supervisors and "99.9 per cent" of clients.

"I don't mean anyone has ever been rude to me, because they haven't, but occasionally I get misgendered," said Defoe. "I occasionally get misgendered by a coworker, and I just direct them and everything is pretty good after that."

She adds that it's important to her to work with the community, because she wants those who are struggling to see it's possible to lead a "productive, normal life" as an openly transgender person. 

"A lot of people say, 'Why did you choose to do that?' And the bottom line is there is no choice," said Defoe.

"I've never been happier in my life"

With files from Windsor Morning

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