Born in the Wrong Body | The Oprah Winfrey Show | Oprah Winfrey Network

By | November 8, 2019


[MUSIC] OPRAH WINFREY: Today, all-new. What would you do if your 7-year-old daughter said, mom, I should be a boy. Facing the world transgender. Next. WINFREY: I think this is gonna be a very fascinating show for you, because, you know, the reason why I continue to do television, ’cause I had enough shoes about 15 years ago. [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: But the reason why I continue to do it is because I want the world to know how we are all really more alike than we are different. And so if the message of that in any myriad of ways that we can express it every day gets across to the millions of people who see us in this country and around the world, then I feel like then I would have done my job. And, you know, soon… [CHEERS AND APPLAUSE] WINFREY: You know, but I feel like all of us have to do our part to create, you know, a greater understanding. And it’s not gonna happen in our lifetime where people accept you just for being who you are. And anybody here in this audience who has, in any way, had to strive to stand up for who you are, you will relate to today’s show, because I think that our guests today have a lot of, lot of courage. And as I was preparing for them to come on the show–and the producers and I always talk about it, you know, beginning weeks before you see the guests- -we were all saying, would I have the courage to do what these people are getting ready to do today? I doubt if I would. I doubt really seriously if I would. You never know until you’re put in that position, but I don’t know. I don’t know if I would, and you can ask yourself the same question, because this is 16-year-old Jake and 21-year-old Angelika. They both say that they were born in the wrong body. Take a look. ANGELIKA: This is the building where I grew up. Yeah, I really don’t wanna be here. Right now, I’m feeling kind of nervous, kind of iffy, ’cause I haven’t been here in so many years. WINFREY: Angelika spent 15 years living here in New York as a boy. ANGELIKA: I had a pretty difficult childhood growing up. Like, I got teased a lot. Everybody knew that my mother had a boy, but I wasn’t masculine. I was never masculine. I was more feminine than anything, and they saw that. My mother really, like, she was embarrassed by it. Like, I was told that my family was embarrassed by me. PEGGY,: That’s the second time that Jake was forced to wear a dress. WINFREY: This is Jake. For 14 years, he was raised as a girl named Julia. JAKE: Yeah, I kept–like I was trying to pull it off. It was itchy. PEGGY: It was itchy. ANGELIKA: There was this one point in time when I was little that I looked in the mirror and I was just wishing that I was a girl. And I couldn’t really understand why that I had a boy part, but that–but my mind was like a girl. I really felt I was so confused. JAKE: Well, when I first started high school, people, they’d follow me to class, and they’d beat me up. Like four at a time, like, just like punching me and throwing things at me. PEGGY: This one, I think, is the youngest picture of Jake. WINFREY: Jake’s mother says it’s hard to say goodbye to the daughter she’s always known. PEGGY: There’s a lot about this process that involves a lot of loss. And it takes time to sort of grieve that. It’s not like losing a child, but it’s losing a dream. ANGELIKA: When I was younger, I used to just lie in bed and I prayed and I prayed and I prayed for God to somehow immaculately change me into a girl. I was just really so heartbroken that I was born, you know, in a body that I shouldn’t have been born into. JAKE: Well, Julia was never there, I don’t think. I think I was always Jake, just with a different name, different body. WINFREY: So you think you were never Julia? JAKE: Yeah. No, I was never Julia. I was always Jake. WINFREY: How old were you when you knew that something was different about you? JAKE: When I was like 7 maybe, I went up to my mom and I said, hey, mom, I’m a boy in a girl’s body. And that’s when it really, like, occurred to me that I was different, but, like, all the time, I just was always me. So I never really felt different, I just felt like me. WINFREY: So what I really can’t imagine, and you have to help everybody who’s watching to understand what that’s like to know that you’re a girl, you were born a girl, you have the anatomy of a girl, but you say when you were 7 years old, you go up to your mom and say, mom, I’m really a boy. JAKE: Yeah. WINFREY: What does that feel like? JAKE: Well… WINFREY: Do you feel like, I wanna play with trucks? JAKE: Oh, yeah. JAKE: When I was younger, I’d always be Ken, and I’d always be the dad or the- not the mom… WINFREY: Okay. JAKE: …the dad or the brother in house, you know. WINFREY: Uh-huh. WINFREY: Uh-huh. JAKE: I was always, like, I wanted to climb trees and play in the dirt, and I always used to make my brother be my, you know, the girl in the games, ’cause no way I was gonna be the girl. So… WINFREY: Yeah. You were the girl. JAKE: Yeah. WINFREY: You were Julia at the time. JAKE: Yeah. Yeah. WINFREY: But no way you wanted to be the girl. JAKE: Yeah. WINFREY: Okay. So then how do you know the difference between that and, you know, I just, you know, I’m a girl who likes doing boy things? JAKE: I don’t really think that when I was younger, I really noticed that there was a difference between it, like it just was. But as I got older, I thought maybe I was a lesbian because I had friends who were lesbians. And– I said, you know, maybe I’m a lesbian. But then it… WINFREY: So you–it sounds like you’re growing up in a really progressive community. JAKE: Yeah. Oh, so supportive and… WINFREY: So supportive. JAKE: But then I met a friend who was transgender, and I was like, oh, you know, what’s transgender? And he’s like, well, you know, I was born a girl, but I’m a boy. And I said, oh, my god, that sounds just like me. It’s not that I just wanna be someone’s, you know, girl’s girlfriend, I wanna be their husband. I wanted to be the dad. I wanted to, you know, be a positive male role model in someone’s life. And that’s when I knew that there was a difference between being a lesbian and what I was. WINFREY: Okay. And so, and for you, Angelika, yeah–we–I thought you were pretty clear on the tape that, as a little boy, you used to pray to God. So you were raised religiously. ANGELIKA: Yes, I was raised Catholic. WINFREY: Okay, raised Catholic, and you would pray to God, please make me a girl? ANGELIKA: Yes. WINFREY: Yeah. ANGELIKA: At the time that’s when I believed in God, and I-somehow, I thought, you know, that maybe if God was so merciful to me, and, you know, that he would grant me a miracle, that he would, you know, make me who I truly felt that I was. Like, make me fully who I truly thought I was in my mind and my heart and my soul and my spirit. I felt as a woman, so I prayed to God thinking that he could somehow change that. WINFREY: Now, how old are you now? ANGELIKA: I’m 21. WINFREY: You’re 21. And these feelings started when? ANGELIKA: It started when I was very little. I can say maybe like 3 or 4. WINFREY: Three or 4. And just as I was asking Jake, for those of us who don’t understand–I mean, I’m trying to understand. Okay, you’re a boy with a penis, anatomically, you… ANGELIKA: Anatomically, yes. Yeah. WINFREY: Anatomically, you were born male. ANGELIKA: Yes. WINFREY: And as a 3 or 4-year-old, I’m trying to understand, “I need to be a girl.” ANGELIKA: You know, it’s the most confusing thing in the world. And I can remember when I was little, I looked in the mirror, and this after I had taken a shower, and I was just so confused. I was–like my mind was boggled by why is it that I really truly thought that I was a girl? Like, in my mind, my mind is female. Like, I really thought that I was a girl. So when I look down and I realized that there’s, you know, male genitalia down there, I was so confused. I couldn’t understand, like, why is it that? I know I’m a girl. I said this, I know I’m a girl. But I have a boy part down there. Why did this happen? Why do I have it? WINFREY: And you were about how old when this… ANGELIKA: Three or 4. WINFREY: Three or 4. ANGELIKA: Yeah. ANGELIKA: You know, I liked playing with Barbies. I liked playing with girl toys. I wished that my mother would take me shopping, you know, in the girls section of, you know, the Gap or something. You know, I wish that I could hang out with the girls and, you know, play Barbies with them, but I wasn’t, you know, I wasn’t really allowed to, so it was very frustrating and upsetting for me. WINFREY: Did you grow up in a progressive community as he did? ANGELIKA: Not at all. WINFREY: Yeah. Not at all. ANGELIKA: Not at all. WINFREY: So how did you know–did you know what gay was? Did you know what being gay was? ANGELIKA: Yes, I definitely knew when I was little what gay was. I had a gay teacher, so it was kind of apparent to me what gay was. WINFREY: Male or female? ANGELIKA: Male. WINFREY: Male. ANGELIKA: Yes. WINFREY: Okay. So you did never thought that you were maybe gay? ANGELIKA: Throughout the years, I kind of forgot. As I grew I kind of, you know, left those feelings behind. I was still feminine. I still walked feminine and talked feminine. But, you know, I just kind of left those feelings behind and just chalked it up to being gay. And that’s… WINFREY: Okay. ANGELIKA: …basically how I came out to my mother. I just said, you know, I was gay. And I left it at that for the moment. WINFREY: Okay. Okay. How you knew that you were no longer gay, but you were in the wrong body, that’s what we’re talking about today. And we’ll be right back. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: Coming up, she gave birth to a baby girl who is now living as a teenage boy. What is that like? We’ll hear from Jake’s mom when we come back. PEGGY: Jake was a junior bridesmaid. Look at that hair. Oh, my god. JAKE: I accepted the fact I was once a girl, ’cause I was just so darn cute. PEGGY: You were cute. JAKE: I was. PEGGY: I made that costume. And I think pink sweater. Oh. I-and, you know, I miss it. I mean I miss that connection that we had. And that was very cute, but I have something different. Do we have something different? JAKE: Uh-huh. PEGGY: Does it feel that different? JAKE: Hmm. No. PEGGY: Between you and I, or is it just the same? JAKE: The same. PEGGY: Hmm. It’s the same. We had some work done on the house, and somebody came in, one of the workmen came in, and he just happened to glance at the picture screen, and said, oh, I didn’t know you had a girl. At that point, to me, it’s like, what am I gonna do? I’m gonna tell this guy–you know, this guy who I’ll probably never see again, you know, it might be, yeah, okay, fine. So-now, I just told him. I said, yeah, yeah, I had a girl. WINFREY: So when you were growing up and realized at age 7, when you go to your mother, I wanna know what your mama said. [LAUGHTER] JAKE: Actually, she wasn’t surprised at all. WINFREY: Yeah. JAKE: She’s like, oh, yeah, I saw it coming. All right. Whatever. I’m like, okay. And I just kind of like ran off and did my business and didn’t bring it up again for a couple of years. And finally when I told her that I was transgender, she’s like, yeah, and? WINFREY: Where’s your mama? JAKE: Right there. WINFREY: (Unintelligible). [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: I loved on the tape earlier where you said that it’s about–it’s not like losing a child, so let’s put this in perspective. For all the people whose children have come out and said they were gay… PEGGY: Right. WINFREY: …a lot of people have been shunned by their families, treated like they were dead, treated like they no longer existed in the world. PEGGY: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: So I thought it was really great that you said it’s not like losing a child… PEGGY: Right. WINFREY: …it’s like losing the dream. PEGGY: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: The dream. So what dream did you have to give up? PEGGY: Jake was my first child. And I was absolutely thrilled when I realized or discovered that Jake was going to be a girl. And I had all these ideas of how we would, you know, do the girly things together as she got older. And I would dress her in the pink ribbons and the pink clothes and the pink bows and (unintelligible)… [LAUGHTER] PEGGY: And… WINFREY: Let’s look at this picture right here. Do you remember this? JAKE: I… [LAUGHTER] PEGGY: Not looking very good. WINFREY: Yeah. JAKE: Yeah. PEGGY: Not looking very comfortable. WINFREY: Did you know then? JAKE: Oh, yeah. PEGGY: Oh, yeah. JAKE: My dad’s like, hey, hey, go, go smile. I’m like, you know? [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: Yeah. JAKE: So… WINFREY: Okay. PEGGY: That picture there–you know, that was there–being able to have these ideas of what it would be like to–even something like going and having hair done and nails done and girl scouts, which we actually did do. But-and then being able to talk about a wedding later on, and going shopping together. And then just being able to talk to the–about the really intimate parts of growing up and being female. WINFREY: That’s what you were looking forward to? PEGGY: That’s what I was looking forward to at that time. WINFREY: Yeah. PEGGY: I-you know, as a mother, I was so looking forward to being able to kind of have that experience with my own child. WINFREY: Yeah. We’ll be right back. WINFREY: Coming up, what did Peggy do when her 16-year-old child asked to have her breasts removed? MUSIC MUSIC WINFREY: You know, I started out this show saying to the audience that I really admire these two young people today who have the courage to say, this is who I am. Well, Jake and Angelika don’t know each other. They lived in different parts of the country but were experiencing the same thing. And, you know, can you imagine in this country–you know, since I’ve been doing talk shows since–it feels like 1786, but… [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: …I’ve been doing talk shows now for–this is my 22nd season. And 22 years ago when we would first, on this show, start talking to people about what it was like to be gay and to grow up gay–and still is in some communities very difficult for young people, especially, to come out and say, this is who I am and certainly very difficult to be accepted by their church and family members. So I think it’s really extraordinary and speaks to at least some progress in the world that you, at this age–it’s 16? JAKE: Yeah. WINFREY: Can, you know, say to the world, this is who I am and I want to be transgendered. That is progress. JAKE: Yeah. WINFREY: Yeah, that is progress. [APPLAUSE] PEGGY: My husband and I both have very small families. In fact, his family, they’re Holocaust survivors. And because of that, we were very close. This is it. This all we have and we have to make the most of everything that we have. WINFREY: Do you have other children? PEGGY: I have one other son. WINFREY: Okay. PEGGY: Yes, a younger son. WINFREY: You sound like the model parent for accepting this. PEGGY: Yeah. WINFREY: Was–okay. The face that you’re showing us today, the attitude that you’re showing us today… PEGGY: Uh-huh. WINFREY: …were you always this calm and accepting of it or have you gotten to this point? PEGGY: Let’s say, I was always accepting because I have to say, from my-from the things that I’ve been through in my life and the people that I’ve known in my life, I can’t stand in judgment of anybody. WINFREY: Okay. PEGGY: So, it’s not about judgment and acceptance. I was sad. He came to me, and he said, I think, I feel like a boy inside. WINFREY: Yeah. PEGGY: A boy inside? What do you mean, a boy inside? ‘Cause I always thought he was a tomboy because he never liked girly things. I think his whole life, he had maybe five dresses on, and they were all to, like, milestone weddings, whatever it was. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. PEGGY: But in answer to your original question, I accepted the fact of whatever he was going to be. However, I was really sad and scared for what the world had to offer out there. WINFREY: When he was Julia… PEGGY: Uh-huh. WINFREY: …you realized that I have a tomboy girl. PEGGY: That’s what I thought. WINFREY: And you were gonna accept that. PEGGY: I was a tomboy girl. WINFREY: Okay. So you were willing to move to that. PEGGY: Absolutely. WINFREY: Did it ever occur to you when he was in the role of Julia–or was Julia… PEGGY: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: …that, you know, Julia would be a lesbian? PEGGY: Yes. And that was… WINFREY: Okay. WINFREY: And were you okay with that? PEGGY: Oh, absolutely. WINFREY: Yeah, absolutely. PEGGY: I mean, I was at a certain point where I just kind of knew. I mean I think probably by about the time–well, when he came to me and said, I feel like a boy inside, I didn’t know anything about transgenderism and I just assumed that he felt masculine. And I’m thinking… WINFREY: Mm-hmm. PEGGY: …okay, so he’ll be a lesbian. No big deal. He never wore anything but boys clothes. He–it always stood out to me that when he was in something that was female, for whatever reason that was feminine, he was never comfortable in anything. You could just see it was like an out-of-body experience for him. WINFREY: Yeah. PEGGY: And when–so, we just kind of always knew that that might be the direction that he was going, which was fine. And I mean… WINFREY: Did your husband feel the same? PEGGY: Well, about being lesbian was not a big issue. WINFREY: Yeah. PEGGY: And that was… WINFREY: Well, good for you guys. PEGGY: It was like healthy kid, that’s what we really cared about. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. PEGGY: And–but then, when Jake began to discover that he was transgender and not lesbian, that was more of a difficult issue to deal with. WINFREY: Do–I have to go to break, Dean? Is that why your arm’s doing this thing? [LAUGHTER] PEGGY: (Unintelligible). WINFREY: I should know that by now. WINFREY: It’s 22 years. [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: We’ll be right back. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: Next, Angelika shares some of her secrets to looking like a girl. What it takes to face the world every day for these two young people when we come back. MUSIC MUSIC WINFREY: Anybody in this audience, if you’ve ever had to say to somebody in your life, I’m not who you really think I am, or if you’ve ever had to stand up for yourself in a way that you have to define who you know yourself to be and not who everybody thinks you are, you can relate to Jake and Angelika who are, you know, letting us inside one of the most intimate, painful issues of their lives. Angelika is 21 and Jake is 16. They’re letting us understand who they are, transgendered individuals. How do they get ready to face the world every day? Well, we’re gonna take a look at that. ANGELIKA: A lot of people tell me that I kind of have Angelina Jolie lips. I get that a lot. And I kind of appreciate the fact that they’re real ’cause I get a lot of compliments on them from friends and from guys, of course. I have a little, you know, secret thing going on. And it’s basically just padding that’s like around this area right here. People tell me it’s pretty, you know, you know, convincing, the feeling of it. WINFREY: Nine months ago, Jake had surgery to remove his breasts. Before that, he would bind them every day. JAKE: You put this on and then this has like the clamps. And you put it on in the front and then you clamp it back so it like, pushes the breasts down. It’s so much easier now to, like, pick out what I wanna wear, ’cause I don’t have to worry about, like, if my chest is showing or not. WINFREY: Both Jake and Angelika take hormones. JAKE: It’s kind of routine now. So, it’s like, whatever. Kind of just, like, oh, stick it in, pull it back and then pull it out. Yeah, it hurts a little bit. But, like, emotionally, I feel like, yeah, I’m done for two weeks. I don’t really have to worry about it again. ANGELIKA: These are my testosterone blockers that I have to take four times a day. JAKE: I had to switch to the guy’s line of soap ’cause my face is just getting so guy-ish. When I was growing up, I really wasn’t thinking about it. I used to just pretend to shave with my dad. I think he probably thought it was pretty cute. [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: How has your dad adjusted? JAKE: Surprisingly well. At first, he didn’t talk to me for, like, two years even though we were living in the same house. So, like, it was kind of as if I wasn’t there. WINFREY: How do you manage that? JAKE: I kind of just walk in and if we, like, talk to each other, he’d be, like, hey, and then, like, we’d get into, like, arguments over who put the fork in the trash or something. Like… WINFREY: Mm-hmm. JAKE: …stupid arguments. But then, all of a sudden, he switched. Like, the first time he ever called me “he” was the consultation for my chest surgery. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. JAKE: And he just started calling me he and Jake. And I was like, oh, my god. Like, it was shocking that… WINFREY: Mm-hmm. I think that having the breasts removed made it real. Correct, Peggy? PEGGY: Yeah, it made it–it did. It made it very real. And that was–I mean, it was a hard decision to make being as young as he was. And I get asked a lot too. I mean, why did you do it so quickly? Why didn’t you wait? And in my mind, and in my husband’s mind, in the minds of the doctors, and the minds of the therapists that all had evaluated Jake, it wasn’t a question of making a decision or choice, it was something that really needed to be done. WINFREY: What was going on then? PEGGY: When you’re truly transgendered and you have the, a male mind and a female body and you look at yourself in the mirror, you don’t just hate your hips, or hate your nose, or hate your breasts, you hate yourself from the top to the bottom. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm. PEGGY: And try living in that body 24/7, that body that you hate. And what begins to happens is this self-loathing and you can’t stand to look at yourself in the mirror, you can’t stand to look at yourself naked, you can’t stand to be with yourself, you can’t stand to be living in your own skin. WINFREY: Is this where you were? And you were going through this at what age? JAKE: Like, the depression really started around middle school. So, probably like 11. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. JAKE: I was like in my slump, around 14, freshman year of high school ’cause I used to get beaten up and stuff. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. JAKE: And I ditched school. And I just would hide places and just wanna kill myself. WINFREY: Do you relate to this, Angelika? ANGELIKA: I can completely relate. As Jake, I also had a number of absences, like 40 to 50 each year. And I started feeling depressed as early as 5 because that’s when the taunting starts. When kids are old enough to really see that there’s something different about you, they’ll pick at it. Like, as–when they just get at that age, they’ll pick at you and they’ll find out what makes you tick. So, a lot of my classmates found out that, you know, I was more feminine and I was very sensitive. I was a super sensitive kid. And, you know, when they would tease me about, you know, being more feminine or, you know, talking feminine, they would tease me a lot, like every single day. ANGELIKA: And I went to a Catholic school from first grade all the way through eighth so that’s like eight years of taunting, teasing, torture, crying, coming home crying every day. WINFREY: How did your family handle it? ANGELIKA: You know, I never actually came out and said it for a number of years. I started dressing as a girl-or experimenting as a girl at 15. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. ANGELIKA: And that was only at school. Like, I would… WINFREY: But, okay, if at 5 years old, you are being tormented at school and tortured because you’re such a feminine little boy and your–other little 5- year-olds can see it, certainly, your mother saw it. ANGELIKA: She saw-she assumed that I was gonna be gay. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. ANGELIKA: She saw the fact that I liked boys–she saw that coming. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. ANGELIKA: She–I don’t think my family ever expected that I would come out and say, you know, mom, I’m a woman. I was meant to be a woman. My mind is a woman. She never saw that coming. WINFREY: Well, 16-year-old Jake is one of two children. We recently talked to Jake’s younger brother Jason about what it’s been like for him. JASON: Sometimes, you know, I’d be, I wish he could still be a girl. You know, I miss my sister. WINFREY: Jason was 13 years old when his big sister, Julia, started transitioning into his older brother, Jake. JASON: I guess she was always kind of manly, always kind of, always would be the boy in pretty much anything we did like playing, or you know, just pretending to be a boy. There’s a special bond between brother and sister so it’s kind of different. I don’t know. Just, I guess, the way we treat each other and how we act. JAKE: More competitiveness. JASON: Yeah, less like protectiveness over each other. JAKE: Yeah, I would agree with that. JASON: I call her my sister, Julia. I guess the name means something special ’cause it was my first word, so it kind of has a bit of a meaning, a value. So, it’s gonna be hard to change that. If I want her to stay in my life, I have to accept whatever she wants to do so I don’t wanna lose her altogether. It’s been hard on me, too, ’cause for the past couple of years, they’ve really been focused on her. So, it’s like, you know, I’ve been kind of pushed off to the side. I’d never thought that my dad would be teaching my sister how to shave before me. So, it’s kind of weird. [LAUGHTER] JASON: She seems happier. I mean, she seems normal again, just a different body. Maybe one day, I’ll call her my big brother, but it might take a little while. WINFREY: Interesting, very interesting. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: I was told that Jason wanted to be here today, but he could not miss his first day of school, and I’m glad about that. You didn’t miss your first day of school. So, what do you think of what he said? I mean… JAKE: It kind of makes me sad. WINFREY: I could feel that and it felt real to me. And that’s the first time I’ve seen it and you live with it, right? JAKE: Yeah. WINFREY: Yeah, yeah. Do you feel that, Peggy, what he said, that Jason got pushed aside? PEGGY: Well, he did. And I really, honestly, feel that, you know, as a mother, that I’m only as happy as my unhappiest child. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. PEGGY: And I, you know, as a mother, I always felt like I was the peacemaker and I always felt like I was the person who had to support everybody and keep everybody happy and sort of, you know, some sort of equilibrium or homeostasis in the family. And Jake really required a tremendous amount of attention because, first of all, I lived or our family lived in a state of crisis for about four years through this whole process. WINFREY: Mm-hmm. PEGGY: I-we didn’t–I didn’t sleep, you know. My husband lost, I think, like, 20 pounds, like. in two months. WINFREY: Did you think he was gonna harm himself? PEGGY: I absolutely did. WINFREY: Yeah. Mm-hmm. PEGGY: And I would go to work and I called every, you know, every hour. And there were days when I cancelled clients and didn’t go to work because I didn’t trust that when I left in the morning, that I would come back and find him either at home or safe. WINFREY: Or safe, ’cause you thought he would harm himself. PEGGY: I did. WINFREY: ‘Cause he was in such a state of depression. PEGGY: Oh, absolutely. WINFREY: Okay. PEGGY: Absolutely. WINFREY: And during that time is when Jason felt like, I’m being ignored. PEGGY: He did feel like he was being ignored. WINFREY: Yeah. I think it’s very interesting that he still is calling you she. We’ll talk about that when we come back. PEGGY: Yeah. WINFREY: We’ll be right back. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: Next, a doctor who used to be a man. Now, she performs sex change operations. WINFREY: Okay. Let’s open your mind a little bit farther, if you’re watching, ’cause experts say every year 1,000 to 2,000 people in our country, America, have genital reassignment surgery. Now, Dr. Marci Bowers is the leading doctor in the United States who performs that surgery. Here she is at work. DOCTOR BOWERS: I’m performing the surgery transforming trans-women into men, as they become their true selves. WINFREY: Dr. Marci Bowers is a world-renowned sex reassignment surgeon who has helped over 500 patients change their gender. Dr. BOWERS: Many people think the transition is about the surgery, going from male to female, but the real transition is when you take that first step out into public with that little mini-dress that you’ve been saving up and go off to Target to buy a toilet paper. Now, that, so to speak, takes balls. [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: Marci knows firsthand about transformation. Just 10 years ago, she was Dr. Mark Bowers, a successful, married OBGYN and the father of three children. Dr. BOWERS: From my own personal experience, the transition from male to female is difficult enough. It’s not easy to keep your family together and happy and well-adjusted. WINFREY: Marci says she lived in denial for 40 years until she could no longer look in the mirror. Dr. BOWERS: When you’re ready to risk losing your friends and your family, that’s when you really transition. WINFREY: Dr. Bowers is still married to your wife. Dr. BOWERS: Yes, I am. WINFREY: And how long were you married? Dr. BOWERS: Twenty-two years. WINFREY: You’ve been married 22 years and you came out to your wife… [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: Okay. And you–which is hard to, regardless of what gender you are, as we all know. [LAUGHTER] WINFREY: So, and you came out to your wife, when? Dr. BOWERS: It was actually at Christmas dinner in 1996. WINFREY: And you’d been married how long then? Dr. BOWERS: That would be 11 years. WINFREY: You’d been married 11 years… Dr. BOWERS: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: …working as an OBGYN, so not to even make a joke about it, but when you were looking at the sex organs of women, all the time, was there a part of you that thought, I wish I had one of those or something like that? Dr. BOWERS: Well, Oprah, you know, its–I relate to the guests because it started very, very young. You know, I’ve had my first cross-gender feelings at 4 and 5 and–but felt very ashamed of that and did my best throughout life to hide that aside, to hide it. WINFREY: Okay. So do you–watching these young people, ’cause I said this at the beginning of the show, I think it’s a different time. Dr. BOWERS: Oh, yeah. WINFREY: This speaks to a different time that they can even, you know–first of all, say it to themselves and then to be able to say it to millions of people. Do you wish that you’d been at a time where you could have done that? You would have made different choices. Dr. BOWERS: Well, I tried at age 19. I ran away from college and tried to transition. But in 1978, there was no Internet. There were barely any newspaper articles… WINFREY: Yeah. Dr. BOWERS: …just very few resources, clinics, doctors that knew about this kind of thing, and so, I just tried to put it aside. And, actually, my choice of becoming an OBGYN was so that I could put it aside and just be more a part of women’s lives, and I thought that that would satisfy the feelings that I had. WINFREY: Interesting, very interesting. And it did not, obviously. Dr. BOWERS: It did not. WINFREY: Yeah. Dr. BOWERS: No, I just felt more–the more I felt a part of their lives, the more I felt that, you know, actually, this is–this should be my life. WINFREY: I never understood, though, because I’ve done–talked to other males who transgendered into females as adults. Why marry and have children and raise them as a father–just a question–why do that when you already knew? You already knew. Dr. BOWERS: Mm-hmm. Well, I think what you, you know, you play the cards you’re dealt. WINFREY: Yeah. Dr. BOWERS: Again, I thought I could put it aside. WINFREY: Yeah. Dr. BOWERS: I thought that I could put it off and do other things, raise a family, get married, and that would be enough for me. WINFREY: Yeah. We’ll be right back. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: That’s interesting. WINFREY: So, Dr. Bowers, what is the difference between sexual preference… Dr. BOWERS: Mm-hmm. WINFREY: …you know, meaning you’re gay or not, and gender? Dr. BOWERS: Mm-hmm. Well, gender is how you feel about yourself, male or female and, as we say, that’s from the neck up. That’s what you feel yourself inside to be, that’s your soul. Sexual preference is sexual preference. It’s who you’re attracted to. WINFREY: Yeah. Dr. BOWERS: And the two things sort independently. They aren’t necessarily related. Generally, if you consider yourself female you’re attracted to males but–and vice versa, but not necessarily. WINFREY: So are you born transgender? You’re born in the wrong body. Dr. BOWERS: I think so. I think that, you know, when I interview patients coming in for surgery, better than 90 percent feel that they had cross-gender feelings from the very earliest of age, less than age 7. WINFREY: Less than age 7. Dr. BOWERS: And that really… WINFREY: Just as Angelika and Jake have explained to us today. Dr. BOWERS: Exactly. That really suggests that it’s something biological. WINFREY: Well, very eye opening, very eye opening. We’ll be right back. [APPLAUSE] [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: Yeah, this is a great conversation we could have for days. And I just think it’s really courageous of these two young people to be able to share their stories. You know, not everybody watching here is going to believe it, relate to it, or understand it, but at some point in your life, I’m sure, if you live long enough, you will have to stand up and say to the world who you are in one form or another. And what you will want is is for the people to accept whatever that is, whatever that is. [APPLAUSE] WINFREY: So we thank you, Jake, Angelika, and Peggy, and Dr. Bowers. [APPLAUSE] [MUSIC]

75 thoughts on “Born in the Wrong Body | The Oprah Winfrey Show | Oprah Winfrey Network

  1. Live life just a little Post author

    The show was the best. She was always one step ahead by discussing new hidden topic.

    Reply
  2. upercut Puncher Post author

    The only thing that needs to be done, is to follow the nature ! If you are a man be a man please , if you are a woman be a woman please ! Don't do what even animal don't

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  3. BLACK PEARL Post author

    My question to anyone with knowledge of this topic, is how do you know when your born into the wrong body and when it’s social conditioning?

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  4. Patricia tha bibliophile Post author

    Regardless of how many surgeries you get and hormones you put in your body you can't change your gender giving your children hormone blockers is nothing more than child abuse!!!!

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  5. Montreala Brancherto Post author

    Once you buy the parts pills and clothes then what? Is that happy?

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  6. Paul Charles Post author

    Meanwhile cops shooting people dead in the streets…!

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  7. DanYiel Teflon Post author

    I’m not mad about this, sadly transgender citizens aren’t given the same respect as many of the Heterosexual citizens.

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  8. Wild Rose Post author

    People are not born in the wrong body God DOSE NOT MAKE MISTAKES! I feel that all the chemicals that the put in the vaccines is what's making people feel this way.

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  9. Candor spot Post author

    We should not hate anyone but there is a right and wrong. Playing along with the trans agenda only hurts them more. They can overcome this.

    Reply
  10. Ray Rombeck Post author

    Oprah thanks for doing this show back then. Apparently people still need to see it today.

    Also Oprah, I wish you had someone to remove hateful comments.
    Only spread/share love on your page please! Lots of younger kids turn to your show for advice and they dont need to see the hateful comments.

    Reply
  11. jessica butler Post author

    Wish Oprah was still on daily television, we need her! 🇨🇦❤️🏳️‍🌈💋

    Reply
  12. cheshirecateyes Post author

    I've often wondered why there haven't been any studies or thoughts of studing the chromosomes of these gender dysphoria individuals to see if there are some chromosomal crossovers, i.e., XYs to trans to XXs and vice-versa, have chromosomes that are in fact XYXs making the males feel more feminine, while females have XXYs leading to the females feeling more masculine. I know that this may seem farfetched, but stranger things have been known to happen.
    Another theory I have is that both sexes have been exposed in utero to more testosterone for females fetuses and more estrogen for male fetuses, thus triggering gender dysphoria.
    Again, (I may be crazy and I own that lock, stock and barrel!🙂) that's just me thinking out loud.

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  13. daydreamer3 Post author

    That so-called "doctor" is a shameful and selfish individual. It is beyond belief that someone would get married, have kids, then "transition." Did they ever stop and think of how this would RUIN their family?! How could the wife stay married to him/her now? What does that make her, a lesbian?! I'm sorry, but the whole thing is insane. And I feel VERY sorry for this screwed up individual's kids.

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  14. Macy G Post author

    WHY DOESN'T OPRAH SHOW THE OTHER SIDE OF TRANSGENDERS. SOME OF THEM REGRET THEIR DECISIONS AND END UP COMMITTING SUICIDE!!!!

    Reply
  15. Sasha Silver Post author

    I wouldn't wish this on anyone…I wish this was something that could be fixed. These people have a very difficult journey ahead…

    Reply
  16. xsvrr Post author

    I just dont think its ok when you know about yourself that you are not happy being a man and then have a wife children and change.

    Reply
  17. Rusty Alcorta Post author

    My Native grandmother said back in the early 60s it has to do with being reincarnated into the wrong body. Your spirit can be male and you are born in a female body and your spirit can be female and you are born into a male body.

    Reply
  18. It's CORNROWS, NOT french-braids! Post author

    This topic is a WHOLE mind-f*ck.
    Mental gymnastics.
    I feel they were influenced into believing they were so-calked "trans". If they were far from ppl, living in the mountains somewhere, this would have never been thought of, cuz there would be no gay/trans etc influences to sway them.

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  19. Ms. Tritesearia Cammy Post author

    I don't believe it I believe that mental illness is real but I don't believe that they were born in the wrong body I think in these last and evil days people just aren't willing to recognize there were certain things that were going to be foretold and that it has arrived I think anybody that is having a dual citizenship within their own body is experiencing a form of mental illness they may seem incredibly normal but when you're sociology I'm sorry when your physiology and your psychology don't agree that is the very definition of mental illness.

    I believe with a lot of celebrities do is they try to normalize every thing that is contrary to being normal as normal because they are celebrities and they can do that but oftentimes it doesn't solve any problems and it doesn't make the situation go away I do believe that these people or trans people are wrestling with in their own minds about their body situation but it is no different than anyone else with the mental illness who is wrestling what's something that is not normal but you wouldn't normalize anyone else's form of mental illness why do we attempt to normalize transgender there's a lot of people who are going to be more hurt because we try to normalize something that is not normal and that they could have been helped if we took the proper step to realize that this is a form a serious form of mental illness the whole gay agenda. Is

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  20. christinainthecity Post author

    Please please keep on uploading full episodes. I love the Oprah show so much!

    Reply
  21. MrJosCHEWa Post author

    Stealth. They are so beautiful. I wish them all the best on their journey.

    Reply
  22. Sam Post author

    I don't like how Jake's Brother makes it about himself. Being Trans is hard enough

    Reply
  23. Muffet Tuffet Post author

    People Should be able to live how they want to as long as they’re not harming anyone. We need to get to a place on this planet where we accept that

    Reply
  24. Ladymoonflower69 Post author

    You only know that you’re different and you feel different. But I believe that the soul that you were born with is the one that you’re supposed to have and I believe that these transgender‘s children are meant to be for a reason I think we as human and spiritual people have a lot to learn about acceptance in this world.

    Reply
  25. Ky Post author

    12 years later I am so heartbroken by these comments. If you can’t empathize, then at least be kind and listen before you project your beliefs onto everyone else.

    Reply
  26. MyFriendIsaac Post author

    20:53 “My face is getting so guy-ish.” -That quote tickled me for some reason 😂🤣

    Reply
  27. Dennis Statwright Post author

    Excellent show and topic, I felt throughout the show that I can totally relate in a lot of ways. I like Oprah Winfrey because she is willing to speak on topics that seem taboo to others. And by her bringing awareness in these enlightening topics and conversations people are able to heal, grow, accept themselves, as well as viewers all around the world are able to discover growth and awareness in diversity and therefore become better supporters of all people. Great job Oprah and those who shared your stories 👍

    Reply
  28. jade shonde Post author

    Jakes Brother was such a sweet little brother. The fact that he recanted that his first word was his sister’s former name was so touching. You can tell that he truly loved his sister and was still mourning the loss of the relationship with that individual prior to the transition.

    Reply
  29. Pink ShitTzu Puppy 01 Post author

    This is a well portrayed omage to what we trans people have had to deal with

    Reply
  30. margaret paul Post author

    Well they should get together if either of them wants kids lmmfao

    Reply
  31. T Moloi Post author

    Wow.I feel like there's a strong correlation between childhood trauma and feeling of being trans or going through this. Well, I don't understand it, but I doubt they would go through all this just for fun. I guess some things, even us humans won't completely understand. Only God knows. I feel sorry for trans people.

    Reply
  32. Sabrina Tenney Post author

    I had a child in day care years ago. At age three he did everything like a girl….his interests etc….were all feminine. I often wonder how he is living today. I pray for love and acceptance of everyone who is transgender.

    Reply
  33. Vegan Duchess Post author

    Beautiful everyone should be respected and given the opportunity to be themselves

    Reply
  34. Geo Rock Post author

    So the “guy” didn’t know he was trans til he met someone who was and was like cool that’s what I am. The same with the other , the “girl” being very effeminate boy doesn’t mean you’re a girl. To me these are two examples of misdiagnosis. I believe there are real trans people , but these two are examples of the “normalization” of it.

    Reply
  35. Michael D. Williams III Post author

    Love me some Oprah, “We are more alike, than different.” ❤️✊🏾🏳️‍🌈

    Reply
  36. K 9 Post author

    No one is born in the wrong body. Difficult issues and sad mental health issues. Absolutely heartbreaking for parents.

    Reply
  37. Sara M. Post author

    3 or 4 you knew what were boy and what were girl parts? Wow, that's really advanced for a 3 year old. Also, the typical statements "I always played with barbies" vs "I always played with trucks" is the real divisor between the 2 genders. That right there is what you think makes a boy or a girl…Ludicrous.

    Reply
  38. Batigol79 Post author

    Hallo everyone? I need some money for my spine surgery, anyone can help with just 1 dollar please anyone for my spine surgery my PayPal accout ( [email protected])

    Reply
  39. Isaiah Jones Post author

    Maybe its Reincarnation or maybe its in the baby food and baby formula or maybe its in the fruits and vegetables who knows

    Reply
  40. Fluffyme7399 F Post author

    Mental health issues are real and hard to deal with

    Reply
  41. Kayley Thompson Post author

    The devil is a liar deceiving people to think they are in the wrong body can i only pray for them 🙏🏽

    Reply
  42. Liyani Bernier Post author

    This morning I woke up feeling like a penguin so as of today I identify as a penguin!

    🐧 🐧 🐧 🐧

    Reply
  43. Nick Vartan Post author

    Just cause you liked climbing trees,it doesn’t make you a boy! You’re just a girl who likes climbing trees.
    And FYI, God doesn’t make mistakes. He made you a boy, that means you’re a boy. An elephant without a trunk is still an elephant. It doesn’t become a fkn puma all of a sudden. I don’t blame these confused souls. I blame their messed up parents.

    Reply
  44. Leslie Ludwick Post author

    The Doctor said “vicia versa”. Reveling; it to be said “vice versa” science 101

    Reply
  45. Tatijana Caldrmoska Post author

    Thank you opara, for bring this topic of transgender to the world. We're born this way,

    Reply
  46. Lodewijck Post author

    I’ll never understand how you can feel being in the wrong body but a show this open and informative makes me realize that I still have a lot to learn.

    Reply
  47. Zulhilmi Saad Post author

    Please upload full episode of martha stewart on the oprah winfrey show 2010… TQ

    Reply

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