Here is the CNN Larry King Live transcript from last nights show. Steve Stanton announced on the show he will not sue the city of Largo.
KING: We welcome to LARRY KING LIVE, Steve Stanton, the former city manager of Largo, Florida. He was fired last month after disclosing he was a transsexual and wanted to become a woman. With him is Karen Doering, she is senior counsel for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. She is the attorney for Steven Stanton.
How long has this feeling gone on, Steve? When did you first say, “I’m the wrong gender?”
STEVE STANTON, HUSBAND & FATHER FIRED AFTER 14 YEARS AS LARGO, FLORIDA CITY MANAGER: Yes, very earlier, since I was a child I can remember I wanted walk into the candy store in my sister’s shoes. It was a very profound knowledge that your body didn’t match your spirit.
KING: What’s the difference between that or wanting to be or being gay?
STANTON: Yes, it’s sexual identification. Orientation is very different from gender identification. So when you’re a transsexual, it feels like your body does not match your…
KING: You don’t belong?
STANTON: Yes, yes, yes, and it’s not synonymous with the sexual orientation at all.
KING: Yet you grew up hiding all of this. You got married and you had a son. What was marriage like?
STANTON: Marriage was good. I loved my wife. I got married because I wanted to have a lasting relationship. She’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me. We had a good marriage.
KING: Good boy, good son?
STANTON: Good son, a great son. My little son is named Travis and he and I are extremely close.
KING: How’s he dealing with all of this?
STANTON: He’s been dealing with it great. He’s been dealing with it great. His school took all of the right opportunities to make sure that he was able to continue on with class and has not missed a day.
KING: How did you tell your wife?
STANTON: Initially, it was difficult because you don’t think you would ever grow up wanting to change your gender. There those things that you think are permanent. And I realized I had to, it was a very difficult decision. I actually did it in an eight-page letter, in an eight-page letter and it was very difficult.
KING: Is it difficult, Karen, for a lesbian to understand this because you’re different, right? You don’t want to be a man?
KAREN DOERING, SENIOR COUNSEL, NATIONAL CENTER FOR LESBIAN RIGHTS: Correct, correct. You know sexual orientation is about who you’re attracted to whereas you know gender identity disorder, the medical condition that Steve and a number of others have, is where basically your internal sense of who you are, what your mind tells you is your proper gender is inconsistent with the physical anatomy you have.
KING: And yet you became city manager, successful city manager for 14 years. You earned $140,000 a year, right?
STANTON: Yes, yes.
KING: Why didn’t you just — since you loved your wife and loved your kid, why didn’t you just live it out?
STANTON: Yes, that’s been the thousand dollar question. Why now and how come you had to do this? I guess ultimately, you want to be authentic to yourself. You want to make sure that you’re going to be around for many years with your son. And I just wanted to be true to who I am. And I actually believed — I believed that the city of Largo would be able to accept this. Even though that sounds maybe…
KING: Have you started the process?
STANTON: Yes, I have, absolutely.
KING: By doing what?
STANTON: Well, the first process is electrolysis to remove the hair from your face. It’s an extremely painful process and then hormone therapy where you start changing the outside of your body. And the last phase is when you try to actually experience life in your true gender.
KING: When will that take place?
STANTON: That will take place in about 30 to 60 days; at the end of the May is when I’ll be going as Susan full-time.
KING: Is your wife going to stay married to you?
STANTON: No, we’ll be separating probably around June.
KING: You were fired. You were surprised.
STANTON: Yes, shocked.
KING: What was the vote?
STANTON: Five to two.
KING: The mayor voted?
STANTON: The mayor voted to support me as well as another commissioner.
KING: We contacted the mayor for the record. That’s Mayor Pat Girard of Largo. And she said the city had no comment on the dismissal.
STANTON: Yes, at this point that’s appropriate. And everybody is worried about being sued and that’s been a big concern. Everybody is always focusing on litigation these days.
KING: Are you going to sue?
DOERING: We advised Steve what his options were. We looked at the law and it’s very clear what the city of Largo did is illegal. You cannot fire somebody just because they announce that they’re going to transition from male to female. That’s absolutely clear that that’s what they did in the city of Largo.
So what we did was we laid out the options for Steve, and had real heart to heart about what litigation really looks like. It’ll probably go on for years. And we talked about some other possibilities. And then we left it up to him to decide whether or not he wants to sue the city of Largo. KING: You have decided yet?
STANTON: Absolutely. I decided the first night.
KING: You’re going to sue?
STANTON: Of course not.
KING: Not sue?
STANTON: Of course not.
KING: Have you have gotten any other offers?
STANTON: Offers to sue?
KING: To be city manager somewhere else?
STANTON: Well, yes, I have some interviews scheduled. But the city of Largo has been great to me, 17 years. It is a city of progress. Other than the commissioners who were just inundated with a lot of negative email, the community was extremely embracing. I was not surprised but reaffirmed how supportive they were with me.
KING: We were told you were going to make an announcement tonight of some kind?
STANTON: Yes, I think everybody thought we were going to sue because that’s typical of what…
KING: So the announcement is you are not going to sue.
STANTON: We are not going to sue. Absolutely not.
KING: That’s the announcement?
STANTON: Well, because I think that there’s a time for healing as opposed to the decisive process of litigation. I always said from the first time that I really wanted to educate. I wanted to educate, to make people understand that just because you’re transsexual doesn’t mean you cannot lead, doesn’t mean you can’t be a productive person. I think I can do that better as an advocate.
KING: As a lawyer, would you have had a good suit?
DOERING: Absolutely. I think he had a very strong suit and we’ve actually brought and won cases for transsexual people who were fired in the workplace in Florida. We talked about that with Steve. We talked about the options.
But from the beginning, and one of the things I admire most about Steve, is he said I just want to make sure that nobody else has to go through this. He knew he was in a very high-profile job. He knew that, you know, it would make the news when he announced he was transitioning. And he hoped and believed that the city of Largo would do the right thing and he would be able to transition and keep his job. Unfortunately, that didn’t happen but he wants to educate. He wants to help people understand this medical condition, transsexualism, under what it is, and understand that these are human beings. It could be you or me or somebody’s kid.
KING: How did you tell the city?
STANTON: How did I tell the city?
KING: How did you do it? Did you go before the city council?
STANTON: Yes, we had an opportunity to make an appeal. We did that. We brought…
KING: I mean how did you tell them you were transsexual?
STANTON: Well, I didn’t really tell them. I was “outed” — quote, unquote by a local newspaper, who said we’re running the story whether you tell your community or not. And that was unpleasant. That was kind of devastating actually.
KING: So tonight you officially tell them you’re not going to sue.
STANTON: Absolutely, yes. When I told them the night of the process that — I specifically said suing the city would be like suing my own mom and it would have been. Largo’s been too good to me.
KING: Did your co-workers know? Who knew about it other than your wife?
STANTON: Well, when I first started to get very close to the point of which I would be bringing this in the workplace, I brought in four or five people that were occupationally trained to ensure some confidentiality, to talk very frankly of what the impact of this decision would be in their operation. And so about five people from the city.
KING: We’ll be right back with Steve Stanton and Karen Doering. Don’t go away.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: A constant professional.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: You have not communicated well.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Vice Mayor Krocher (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, consider stepping down.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Arson (ph).
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes, I have lost confidence.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Black?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I hope we can move forward in this city with a greater understanding.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Woods?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: No.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: But he’s lost his standing as a leader.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Gentry (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I no longer can trust his judgment.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Commissioner Guyette (ph)?
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Motion carries 5-2.
In an effort for the city manager to be put on administrative leave, I believe…
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: …we do need to appoint an interim city manager.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: His record has been outstanding. And if it was not then you would have never given him a pay raise in September.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: But I question the performance and that has been my issue since day one with the city. And there are so many examples here, I can’t cite all of them.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I’ve dealt with city managers and other managers all the time and his is one of the best performances I have seen. He has served this city well.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Steven doesn’t exist any longer and Susan basically is brand new. No social security number. No elementary school. No high school. No college. We are talking about a phlegm.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KING: We’re back with Steve Stanton and his attorney, Karen Doering. One commissioner was reported as saying, “I do feel he was the integrity, nor the trust, nor the respect nor the confidence to continue.” Any response to that?
STANTON: Yes, and that was a perspective that a few people had. I think people don’t understand the courage and conviction it took to stand up and really discuss something extremely personal like this and knowing the public reaction that was going to follow.
DOERING: One of the things we know from the medical experts who deal with transsexualism all the time and at the National Center for Lesbian Rights, we deal with people transitioning in the workplace all the time and this is the kind of reaction that is absolutely normal and human. When you tell somebody, you share a deep part of yourself. Hey, I’m transsexual. The initial reaction is how can I not have known that? How can I trust you now? You kept this from me. And that is a very human reaction.
KING: What was the plan you said had?
DOERING: Well, Steve had come up with a great plan. It’s the kind of plan that we recommend for anyone who’s transitioning in the workplace. You tell a human resources person. You tell your immediate supervisor. As the city manager, the closest thing he has to an immediate supervisor is the mayor. You bring in some of the key leaders in the organization. You set up training so that — and you plan how you’re going to announce this to folks so that you can do the education, so that yes, there’s going to be a speed bump. This is going to be shocking to people. But there are ways when it’s done properly, when it’s handled properly, it can absolutely be done well. People transition in the workplace all the time and are very, very successful.
KING: What is it like, Steve, to live in a body that’s wrong for you? Day to day, wasn’t it?
STANTON: Yes, it’s something, when I discussed with other transsexuals, it’s a situation when you wake up, it’s the first thing you think about when you wake up and the last thing you think about when you go to bed at night. It feels like that there’s something profoundly wrong with who you know you are and who you portray to be.
KING: And you want to be your wife?
STANTON: No, I want to be who I am. I don’t want to be my wife. I want to be who I am and I want to be an authentic person and I want to be somebody who can be productive. And I think I can still do that. And I can still be an extremely effective city manager.
KUDLOW: Do you expect your son to call you Dad?
STANTON: I expect my son to call my anything he’s comfortable calling me. What I do expect and I have received is his love and support. KING: Are you scared?
STANTON: I’m terrified. This is going to be a very substantial challenge. Having my reputation smeared by so many people that really thought because I’m a transsexual that I’m not able to do my job and all of the things that people sort of came up with and justified, their decisions has been devastating. So I’m very…
KING: Are you scared of the surgery?
STANTON: No, not at all.
KING: That’s what I meant.
STANTON: Yes, the surgery, no. The surgery is not — a lot of folks don’t have the surgery. My intention is to do so. But right now I need to get my life…
KING: A lot don’t have the surgery. They just, what, wear female clothing?
STANTON: Well, they live who they are.
KING: They’re hiding?
STANTON: I wouldn’t say you’re hiding but I don’t think your genitalia really defines your personality and who you are as a whole person.
DOERING: Yes. And the surgery is for a lot of people is cost prohibitive. Almost every insurance company out there puts this specific prohibition in there that they do not cover sexual reassignment surgery. And so, this is a medical condition. It’s the only accepted medical protocol but it’s not covered by insurance and not everyone has $20,000 or $30,000.
KING: What specialist does the surgery and what code of surgery?
DOERING: Well, there are many…
KING: Plastic surgeons?
DOERING: Well, there are medical standards of care and different — depending on which surgical procedure, if it’s, you know, a chest reconstruction of some sort, depending on whether it’s a male to female or female to male, then that would probably be some sort of plastic surgeon.
KING: Isn’t female to male harder?
DOERING: Female to male…
DOERING: The bottom surgery for them is more difficult, yes.
KING: Do you know where you’re going to have it done already, Steve?
STANTON: I have no idea. It’s almost irrelevant at this point. It really is. That was a big focus. That’s the sensational aspect of this story, the sex change, what is he going to wear, when is she going to be…
KING: That’s because people think about that.
STANTON: Yes, they do. And it shows a lack of education. And that’s why I think litigation in this situation is not nearly as important as education. And I think — I had a very unique opportunity having a national stage now to communicated in ways that people don’t.
KING: Do you want to be a city manager again?
STANTON: Oh, absolutely. I was extremely good at it. I was extremely good at being a city manager. I enjoyed the city of Largo and had a lot of friends in the city. And that’s been the biggest adjustment that so many people…
KING: Do you want to stay in Florida?
STANTON: Probably but not necessarily. You know City managers, we tend to be nomadic. So I’ll go where I feel comfortable.
KING: Have you received a lot of support?
STANTON: I’ve received extreme support. We have people sending food to the house and flowers. There was an interfaith rally in the city of Saint Petersburg. Absolutely. I was not prepared for the emotional outpouring that so many people gave us the last three weeks. It’s been superior.
KING: Where is it all going to go, Karen? Do you think we’ll ever have a society that totally accepts this?
DOERING: I think we will. Again, I think it takes time. This is a new concept that society doesn’t understand very well. And I think by Steve, you know, taking the stand because he was such a public figure and sharing his story, it helps people understand transsexualism. It helps them understand that this is just another medical process. And once he transitions and starts living as Susan, people will realize that he’s the same person he’s always been. And Susan Stanton will be absolutely every bit as good city manager as Steve Stanton.
KING: You’re going to be Susan?
KING: Why did you pick Susan?
STANTON: I didn’t, my mom did.
KING: What does she think of this?
STANTON: Well, she died but she would have been proud. She would have been proud.
KING: So she knew all about this?
STANTON: She did not know about it.
KING: Then how did she pick Susan?
STANTON: Because I asked her when I was about 7, “Mom, what would my name have been if I was a girl?” And she told me the name Susan. And it just exploded in my head. That was the identification of who I was.
KING: May I be the first to welcome you, Susan?
STANTON: Thank you.
KING: He’s still Steve. He will be Susan.
Thank you, Karen.
DOERING: Thank you.
KING: Steve Stanton, the former city manager of Largo, Florida; Karen Doering, his attorney, the senior counsel for the National Center for Lesbian Rights. And again, Steve announcing tonight, he will not — repeat, not sue the city of Largo.