By Rikki Dubois

My name is Rikki Marie-Josée Dubois and I’m transgendered. For those who don’t know what transgendered means, they are people who were born with the brain of one gender, but the body of another. In my case, I was born with a fabulous female brain, but it was stuck in a body that looked male.

It’s not easy living like this. Some people will say it’s having the wrong body, but I say it’s more like living the wrong life. The worst part for me was that I didn’t know I was transgendered until I was 45 years old. I had lived a life of depression and I had bouts of cross-dressing. I didn’t know I was depressed and I thought the cross-dressing was only a fetish I would outgrow.

I was diagnosed with depression in 1998 when I was 37 years old. I saw many doctors and went through many types and combinations of anti-depressants. I wanted relief from the depression for the good of my family. I did not want my kids to suffer like I did, or because of me.

Along with the help from my psychiatrist, I did a lot of research on my own. I read some books and visited a lot of websites. I knew there must be a way to get rid of this depression. But the more I researched, the more I realized that my depression was a lifelong issue. I have always lived with it; I’ve never been truly happy and thoughts of suicide were my constant companion. My mother used to call me lazy, but it turned out I was sick. I never graduated from university because I didn’t have the energy to go to my classes. I really wanted to go, but I couldn’t make it. Now, I know why.

With time, I started noticing some websites and groups of people who were like me. They had the same thoughts and seemed to have gone through the same things I did. Then, in January 2007, at the age of 45, I realized that I was transgendered. So I focused my research to knowing more about transgendered people. I read all the books I could find. There are many good ones, but it occurred to me that there were few books for children. All the books I read are directed towards adults. They are mostly autobiographies and stories of what trans people have to go through to live as their true selves.

I have seen books for children about same sex partners (Heather Has Two Moms comes to mind,) but there was nothing that can help children understand why someone must change their gender. I was fortunate when I came out to my children that they were almost finished high school and I was able to speak to them in a somewhat adult fashion. But how do you explain to a five or six year old?

I wrote my labour of love, Muffy was Fluffy. It tells the story of Fluffy, a kitten who has a hard time living the kitten life. She realizes that the only way that she can truly be happy, is if she transitions into a puppy named Muffy.

I wrote this book to teach children why someone must transition. But it can also be used to show those children who are questioning their gender identity that they are not alone, and to help their classmates and friends understand why these children don’t follow gender norms.

I finished my journey with gender reassignment surgery in June 2011, but I’m here to help others. Muffy was Fluffy is just the start. I speak at transgendered workshops. I am in the process of writing other books and articles, and have been interviewed by media.

My goal in writing these books and doing these interviews is to open the eyes of the public as to who we are. To help stop the suffering and depression of other transgendered people. If I can stop one person from committing suicide, then I have done what I set out to do.

Article by Rikki Dubois, a transgendered writer from Winnipeg. Her book Muffy was Fluffy helps children understand what it means to be transgendered. Order it today from McNally Robinson.