Trans Person’s Guide to Jobs, Insurance, and Retirement

by | Dec 7, 2016 | Life

Leslie McMurray’s retirement account didn’t survive her transition from male to female. The 58-year-old had to spend almost $70,000 on medical treatment, including electrolysis to remove hair from her face. “It’s hideously painful,” she says, “and costs as much as a Hyundai.” An additional $100,000 went to living expenses, when her transition abruptly ended a 35-year career in radio and TV. She finally found a nonprofit job paying less than a fifth of her old salary. McMurray also lost a 33-year marriage, a 4,500-square-foot house in the Dallas suburbs, and most of her possessions.

“And,” she adds, “I’ve never been happier.”

Much is demanded of transgender people, from the emotional to the physical. Less talked about is that living in one’s true gender also requires financial grit, as transitioning can have economic consequences that are harsh or bewildering or both. Success starts with the right attitude, McMurray says, four years after her transition began. “Understand it’s going to take a long time,” she says. “It’s not an easy thing to do. Get good advice and a good therapist. Go through the process. Don’t be in a hurry. Get it done right.”