tampabay.com

The transgender Oldsmar official

By RODNEY THRASH
Published March 4, 2007


"In midlife, a rebirth," Feb. 25, 2005; links.tampabay.com

THE STORY: For 47 years, Edward Kozlowski felt trapped in a man's body. In 2003, while chairman of the Oldsmar Code Enforcement Board, he changed his name to Jennifer Edwards and underwent five hours of gender-reassignment surgery.

The new Jennifer was allowed to remain in her position on the code enforcement board, but she lost her marriage, some friends and her job as a software engineer. It seemed she could lose her relationship with her youngest brother.

FROM THE STORY: Ed changed his name to Jennifer, the name his mother would have given the daughter she never had. He began laser and hormone treatments and went from a flat chest to having breasts that filled B cups. He dropped 65 pounds to a svelte 140. And he replaced the chinos and polo shirts with skirts and dresses.

But merely dressing as a woman wasn't enough.

"Every time I went to the bathroom, it was a constant reminder of what I was not," Jennifer says. "I had a birth defect. And surgery was the cure."

THE REST OF THE STORY: In 2003, Jennifer went before the Largo City Commission to speak in favor of a human rights ordinance that would have protected transsexuals from discrimination. The measure was defeated. In February 2004, CBS's 48 Hours aired Jennifer's story on a show called Trapped. After the divorce, Jennifer found someone else to love: Sandra Orlando, a transgender woman. They moved to a yellow house in Gulfport and together they ran a laser treatment business that catered to the transgender community.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT: Jennifer and Sandra moved to New Jersey late last year. Jennifer is a software engineer in nearby Philadelphia. She says her employers know about her gender reassignment and don't care. Even her brother has begun to accept her.

On Tuesday, Largo city commissioners voted to oust City Manager Steve Stanton, who recently announced plans to undergo gender reassignment surgery. Jennifer doesn't know Stanton. But Jennifer says she isn't disappointed that Stanton didn't speak up when the commission voted down the 2003 human rights ordinance.

"I think he's a very brave person," she says.

Does Jennifer have any regrets about her sex change?

"It was my wildest dream and most cherished dream and now I live it every day," she said. "How many people get to live a dream come true in this world?"