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Rapid City Alderman Pursues Sex Change

April 5, 2004, 5:45 PM by Cindy Davis


A Rapid City alderman will change more than public policies this next year in his seat on the city council... he's changing his gender. Forty-eight year old Tom Murphy is spending the next year preparing for gender reassignment surgery.

Murphy: "The more I realized I was different, and hearing other people, the more I tried to hide it, suppress it."

For the next year, Tom Murphy will live, and dress as a woman. His hair will grow long, and his body will begin to change with the help of hormones.

Murphy: "I have a piece that I'm out, and I'm open, but now all the fears that I've had of not coming out are now staring me in the face."

His biggest fear... acceptance. A twenty-two year veteran of the Air Force, Murphy was always scared if people knew he was a transgender, they might try to physically harm him. But once he was out of the military he began visiting Internet chat rooms, and found out he wasn't alone. That realization made him to decide it was time to begin openly pursuing the life he believes he is meant to live.

Murphy: "I'm not going to go back. I'm moving forward. This is what I want to do. It's what I've always wanted to do."

Murphy was appointed to the Rapid City council in 2000, and the next year defeated his opponent to win another term on the council. In 2003, he was re-elected for his final two year term.

For now, Murphy says the future is uncertain. He says he's scared about getting a sex change operation, and of public discrimination, but says he can no longer live a lie.

Murphy: "At least now I'm excepting who I am."

Murphy doesn't plan to run for re-election after his city council term expires in 2005. He says a new group in Rapid City, called the Trans-ali's, has been a great help to him in coming out.

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