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28 January 2014

Susan Kimberly (1941–) politician

After a journalism degree at the University of Minnesota and a stint in India for the Peace Corps, by 1968 Robert Sylvester was the editor of a small-town Minnesota newspaper, which led to meeting Mae, the women who became his wife. He told her that he was a transvestite, and later that he felt that he was a transsexual.

In 1970 he consulted a psychiatrist was told told that quitting was like quitting smoking. So he purged his female wardrobe, and Bob and Mae were married. Bob became a city councilor in St Paul, Minnesota, and then president of the council. Later he worked in investment banking.

In 1977 he told a female therapist that he wanted to be a girl, and she said: "Well, then, why don't you get on with it?" Susan started going out as female, and in January 1980 she committed to the gender change. Bob and Mae divorced in 1981. On 1 January 1983, Susan and Mae held a ceremony for invited friends including the mayor, to "commemorate the departure of Bob Sylvester and arrival of Susan Kimberly". Transition was completed in 1984 courtesy of Dr Biber.

After a few years of unemployment, she was back in City Hall working for the mayor. She ran unsuccessfully for City Council and County Board. In 1998 Susan was appointed deputy mayor of St Paul under Norm Coleman, they both having switched their allegiance to the Republican Party.
"I lost more friends becoming a Republican than I did becoming a woman".
She also worked for Coleman when he was elected as a US Senator after Democratic incumbent Paul Wellstone, the most prominent senator to vote against congressional authorization for US invasion of Iraq, died in a plane crash (perhaps assassination) eleven days before the election.

Later Susan was vice president of economic development for the St Paul Chamber of Commerce. In 2007 she flew to Florida to speak on behalf of Susan Stanton who was being fired from her job as city manager after announcing a coming transition.

She retired in 2010.

1 comment:

Billie said...

It's sad but transition seems to be both a big societal hurdle and the hugest test of loyalty in a marriage at the same time. Perhaps that's just one of the many reasons why men who think they're females don't do it.

She stood her ground however, and that turned out to be good for her!