Letters regarding Steve Stanton

By Times Staff Report
Published February 21, 2007

Steve Stanton’s e-mail to city employees:

Yesterday morning, a St. Petersburg Times reporter came to my office for our weekly meeting and said the paper had received a tip regarding my plans for the future. They had received information that I was contemplating a future announcement regarding a very personal matter that I had only shared with a very small group of confidential advisers and family members.

In a private meeting with Mayor Gerard on New Year’s Day, I informed her that I am transgendered and plan to begin the final stages of a gender transition in the coming year. From a medical perspective, I am a transsexual and have had this condition since early childhood.

Like many transgendered people, I have privately struggled with this very personal matter all of my life and have kept it secret from my family, friends and co-workers. I hoped I could outrun it when I got married, became a father and found a job I love. Unfortunately, I was wrong. In 2003, I sought professional assistance to find some peace and to help overcome my fear of confronting this uninvited dilemma.

I know that this revelation has caught everyone by surprise, since I have taken extraordinary steps to keep this secret from interfering with my career or affecting my family.

Many transsexuals who make the decision to transition to their proper gender are often forced to quietly leave their job in order to avoid embarrassment and discrimination. However, it is not my nature to run from difficult challenges. I take tremendous pride in being your city manager and a part of our Largo family.

Working with so many dedicated employees over these many years is the most rewarding professional experience of my life. I have devoted my passion serving this community and building lifelong friendships and I am unwilling to just walk away and hide.

I know you all have many questions about transsexuality, which will be thoroughly answered in the coming weeks by the Human Resources Department. However, let me provide some historical information about myself and my plans for the future.

I have been seeing a gender therapist for three years trying to understand all of this myself. Transsexualism is a complex condition that is defined differently by different people, but one generally accepted definition of a transsexual is a person who believes that his or her body does not reflect his or her true inner gender.

For many years, some people assumed that transsexualism was a psychological/emotional disorder caused by psychological factors. More recently, research has suggested that the cause of transsexualism is rooted in biology and a large segment of the medical profession has come to view transsexualism as a physiological condition rather than a psychological one.

Like any medical condition, transsexuality can be treated and people do go on to live productive lives. The medical protocol for treating transsexuals is based on an internationally accepted treatment protocol established in 1979 by the Harry Benjamin International Gender Dysphoria Association. This standard of care is a rigorous set of safeguards to ensure a patient is an appropriate candidate for gender change.

During the past two years, I have begun the process necessary to change my gender, which has involved extensive psychological testing, hormonal therapy, and painful electrolysis treatments. The final step I must take prior to gender reassignment surgery (also known as a sex change) is to live as a woman for one year. I know this will be very awkward for all of us, and the Human Resources Department will begin providing training to address your concerns and answer your questions.

I had not planned on publicizing this very personal matter until the summer, when my son would be out of school and could be shielded from the media attention that this story will create in the following weeks. When I was young, my grandmother told me of the old Yiddish proverb that Man plans and God laughs.

As everyone knows, I have never been a traditional city manager and have learned to confront my fears. Last week, I was training with the Fire Department’s Technical Rescue Team and rappelled down a very small rope 300 feet to the ground. As I walked away, a spectator told me I was crazy to do such a thing, but admitted I showed a lot of courage. However, I tried to explain that this exercise did not depend on courage, but an absolute trust in the team that supported me.

It is with this same sense of trust in the community and my Largo family that I now begin a new journey in my life.

This will not be an easy path to travel, but I am excited about the future.

If you are contacted by the media, please (refer) them to Human Resources Director Susan Sinz.

Largo police Chief Lester Aradi e-mail to police:

You have just received a very personal e-mail from City Manager Steve Stanton.

Mr. Stanton is in the early process of gender transition. Someone that he had confided in, and trusted to provide support, chose to go public with this confidential information. He was going to spend the next four months getting his personal and professional affairs in order and develop a plan to inform all city employees personally. This has dramatically changed, which is why you are being informed in the quickest means possible, before the public reads about it tomorrow morning.

I need to emphasize that this is a deeply personal and difficult decision on his part and one that will have my understanding, compassion and support. What matters most to me is my boss’s skills, knowledge and abilities and not my boss’s gender. I hope that you can provide him the same support, as Mr. Stanton has every desire to continue his work with the city of Largo.

While it doesn’t need to be said to most of you, I still have to communicate very clearly that inappropriate comments, jokes, IMs, or other forms of communication at work, or in the work place environment, may offend others, is contrary to all the training provided you, and is by itself wrong. Please let’s not let that happen in the Police Department.

Conversely, I understand that this will be shocking news to many of you. There is nothing wrong with discussing this matter professionally, on how you believe this may affect the city, and what implications this may have on you as employees. Just please keep the comments professional.

We had plans to bring in professionals to offer additional information for those of you seeking it. Until that happens, Susan Sinz in H.R. stands ready to assist you with more resources, if you so desire. I and our command staff are also available to any of you with questions.