Rapid City City Councilman Plans to Become a Woman
Tom Murphy is taking the first step toward getting ready for a sex-change operation, called gender reassignment surgery.
Murphy, 48, needs to live and dress as a woman for a year before he has the surgery.
"I'm a transgender. I've just accepted that," Murphy told the Rapid City Journal. "All my life I've done a good job of hiding it."
Transgender refers to a person who has characteristics generally associated with people of the other sex.
Murphy said he has identified with females more than with males since he was young.
He began visiting Internet chat rooms after he retired from a 22-year military career.
"I found out I'm not alone," he said. "It's just amazing, the common bond we have."
The alderman said he won't dress as a woman during council meetings, but people who meet him on the street may see him wearing women's clothing.
He has been letting his hair grow long and taking hormones that have begun to soften and change his body. He will soon undergo laser treatment for his beard.
Murphy said he has told his fellow council members.
"From what I understand, people on the council have accepted me," he said.
Murphy was appointed to fill an unfinished term in 2000 and the next year won a spot on the council. He won another two-year council term last year.
The alderman is currently listed as the only "out and elected" official in South Dakota on the Web site of the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, a national political organization.
In January he testified against a bill in the state Legislature that would ban same-sex marriages. The measure eventually died in the House State Affairs Committee.
"It's a hate bill. That's what I see it as," Murphy said.
He said he doesn't plan to run for re-election after his term expires in 2005, and he's not sure he'll stay in the Black Hills when he finishes a degree at National American University.
"I'd like to, but I don't know if I'll be able to," he said. "I think I'll be discriminated against in trying to find a job."