An Iowa woman says that even after undergoing gender reassignment surgery, she still gets call ‘dad’ by her three-year-old daughter — and admits that she was jealous of her ex-wife’s ability to carry her.
Though sales consultant Rachel Doese, 30, was born male, by six years old she knew she was transgender; however, she also knew that her feelings were taboo and repressed them for the next two decades.
It wasn’t until she was 28 years old, a year after the birth of her daughter, that Rachel felt empowered to begin transitioning — and she says that she’s now happier than ever.
Journey: Transgender woman Rachel Doese, 30, still goes by ‘dad’ to her three-year-old daughter Raelee after transitioning form male to female
Journey: She was born male but knew she was trans by age six — yet because she knew it was taboo, she repressed her feelings until adulthood
As most little boys know they are boys and little girls know they are girls, Rachel knew from a young age that she was a girl — even in a boy’s body.
‘I knew I was transgender back when I was six-years-old,’ she said. However, I knew it wasn’t normal and a taboo — this led me to repress those feelings until I was 28 years old.
‘From a young age, the main sign was just a complete feeling of dread whenever I saw my body,’ she went on. ‘No matter if I was skinny, fat, muscular, or anything in between, no matter how many people saw me as attractive — something literally always felt wrong.
‘Growing up with gender dysphoria really put a damper on my childhood. I didn’t fit in with the boys and I didn’t fit in with the girls, and the anxiety and depression caused by gender dysphoria clouded a large portion of my life.
According to the Mayo Clinic, gender dysphoria is ‘the feeling of discomfort or distress that might occur in people whose gender identity differs from their sex assigned at birth or sex-related physical characteristics. ‘
So Rachel continued to live as a male and, in August 2011, she met Lindsey Doese-Jaggers, 27, at the Iowa State Fair, where they were both working as security guards.
Struggles: Growing up with gender dysphoria caused anxiety, depression, and ‘a complete feeling of dread whenever I saw my body’
Ready: She didn’t begin to transition until after she was 28 years old
The two got engaged in December 2013 and in August 2014.
‘I was excited to get married, as I felt it was the next step in my life and would fill the void I always felt,’ Rachel said.
Two years after their wedding, in September of 2016, Lindsey got pregnant, giving birth to Raelee Doese on May 22, 2017.
‘I was totally ecstatic, as I always wanted a child of my own,’ Rachel said. ‘Although, there was a fair amount of jealousy felt, as I was envious at how close Lindsey was able to be to Raelee during the pregnancy.’
Ultimately, things didn’t work out for Rachel and Lindsey, and the pair separated in February 2019 due to mutual differences.
Shortly after, Rachel took the first steps toward embracing her trans identity, joining a transgender support group where she was given the number of a doctor who specialized in transgender care.
Before: In 2014 she married her now ex-wife, Lindsey, and in 2017, Lindsey gave birth to their daughter Raelee
Getting there: Rachel and Lindsey split two years later, and Rachel visited a doctor to begin hormone therapy. She also experimented with hair, makeup, and clothes
No problem! Raelee noticed that she started wearing makeup but doesn’t question it, telling Rachel she looks beautiful
‘I set an appointment with the doctor, who then gave me my hormone prescription. Once they started producing changes, I came out to all my family, friends, and co-workers,’ said Rachel.
She also told her ex-wife, who has since become great support.
‘I told Lindsey two months after we split, and although she was resistant at first, she has come around to being an amazing friend and great ally,’ she said.
As Rachel was beginning to transition, wearing makeup and dressing more feminine, her daughter soon noticed the change.
‘One day, my daughter asked me why I’m wearing makeup and I simply told her “because I like it,” and that was the end of her questions,’ Rachel recalled.
‘My daughter is the absolute best. She is the most accepting kid I’ve ever met and she is always there to give me a big hug and let me know she’s here for me. I’m in awe at how truly open minded a three-year-old can be,’ she added.
‘Every day she tells me “I love you” and “you look beautiful.” I don’t think I’d have the strength to be my authentic self without her,’ she went on.
She said: ‘My daughter is the absolute best. She is the most accepting kid I’ve ever met and she is always there to give me a big hug and let me know she’s here for me’
Better place: Rachel says she is much happier and a better parent since transitioning
Though Rachel calls herself a mother on social media, Raelee still knows her as ‘dad’ — and that’s just fine with Rachel.
‘I respect her and let her choose what to call me,’ she said.
Rachel added that while her friends have been ‘really accepting’ of her transition, her family is having more trouble with it, and refuse to use her chosen name and pronouns.
Still, Rachel says that she is overall in a much better place than she was before she transitioned.
‘Prior to my transition, I was depressed, anxious and never happy — I was incomplete,’ she said. ‘Now, I’m happier than ever, a better parent, and a more successful business person. Just finally whole.
‘Times are changing and I’m in a very conservative area of the United States where transgender people are rare, yet I’ve been out for two years and have never had an ounce of hate in my direction.’
Sharing her advice for others, Rachel concluded: ‘It’s never too late to come out and your happiness and mental health is so important — if I can do it, anyone can.’