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Celebrating Pride Month: Devereux Texas team member shares journey of transition

 

From an early age, Devereux Texas Information Systems Manager Eliska Smiga knew she was different, but it was not until September 2020, three months before her 40th birthday, that she officially came out as transgender.

In December 2020, Eliska began her medical transition with hormone replacement therapy. She says her friends, Devereux colleagues and the organization as a whole as affirmed and supported her throughout her journey.

“I spent 39 years pretending to be someone I wasn’t. The feeling of finally living as my true self is very freeing. I don’t question who I am anymore.”
– Devereux Texas Information Systems Manager Eliska Smiga

From an early age, Eliska, who has worked for Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health Texas for more than 20 years, knew she was different. However, it was not until September 2020, three months before her 40th birthday, that she officially came out as transgender.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, when everyone was staying indoors and social distancing, I had a lot of time to think,” Eliska shared. “I was in a good place where I was able to process everything and say, ‘Hey, I’m trans.’ Conversations with a friend of mine who is a therapist brought out my true feelings. A month later, I started presenting socially as transfeminine.”

Feeling affirmed, supported

In December 2020, Eliska began her medical transition with hormone replacement therapy. While she admits her immediate family is still learning to fully accept her for who she is, she says her friends and colleagues have welcomed her with open arms.

“I feel affirmed by my friends, co-workers and Devereux as a whole – it’s been wonderful,” Eliska noted. “Because I knew my workplace and all those around me would be supportive, I realized it was the right time to transition. Many transgender people worry about transitioning at work, but that was a never a concern for me. I started taking hormone medication, which Devereux’s medical insurance covers, three days after my 40th birthday.”

Overcoming challenges

Eliska describes her transition journey as “eye-opening,” and acknowledges that she has experienced some challenges along the way.

“There have been times when I’ve been harassed by people in the community,” Eliska said. “In one instance, I was walking across a restaurant parking lot when a guy rolled down his car window and screamed, ‘That’s a man.’ I was wearing my wig and makeup, and feeling cute, and he just screamed at me. Luckily, I live in a small town where a lot of people knew me before and they know me now. I come from a family of educators, so I try to educate everyone around me by sharing the steps I’ve taken and the milestones I’ve achieved in my transition journey.”

Embracing your true self

Despite these challenges, Eliska says when she thinks of where she is today, she is filled with a sense of pride and joy.

“Taking the step to live as one’s true self is liberating,” Eliska shared. “Growing up, there was always a nagging voice in the back of my head saying, ‘This is not who you are.' Now, that’s gone. I can spend my energy doing good work and being a loyal friend and a loving family member, and not having to put up a wall or hide. When I look at photos of myself pre-transition, there’s an air of unhappiness at the core of my gaze. While I’ve always been a positive person, people tell me, ‘You brighten up a room, even more than you did before.’ I have so much confidence, and it’s evident in every aspect of what I do and how I present myself. I hope by others seeing me be myself, it allows them to live as their authentic selves.”

Learn about Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health’s efforts to support the LGBTQ community.

 

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