For Jillian Leigh of Portsmouth, one of the best things about New Hampshire – and a reason why she moved from Massachusetts many years ago – is the state’s motto: “Live free or die.” For Jillian and other transgender people, being able to live as her “true self” is something that has taken her a lifetime to be able to do safely, even though she knew “instinctively” as a child that she “should have been the other gender,” instead of the boy she was raised as. For many years, Jillian thought she was alone in how she felt. She buried her true self, the female she long knew herself to be, because she didn’t want it to impact her marriage or her children. But eventually she couldn’t deny it anymore. Today, Jillian is the woman she has long seen herself as, and she is happier than she’s ever been.
“For many transgender folks, the only choice, other than transitioning, is to live a life of misery,” Jillian explained. “I’ve met so many great people in this community, and so many allies – gay and lesbian allies, parents of transgender children, clergy, police chiefs, teachers – it’s been incredibly gratifying. We’re on the right track.”