Leading National Behavioral Healthcare Provider

Call 1-800-345-1292

  • ASCEND Program
  • May awareness
  • Devereux News
  • Who we help
  • Careers at Devereux
  • Inspirational messages of Hope banner

Print Send email Share on LinkedIn Tweet

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.

 

Latest News

Fireside Chat Screenshot   Devereux video: Leaders share first jobs at Devereux and how ASCEND can propel your career

Watch our latest Fireside Chat, in which Devereux President and CEO Carl E. Clark II introduces several leaders who share how they got their start at Devereux, what they are doing today, and how Devereux’s ASCEND Career Accelerator program can help anyone looking to advance their career.

Arnette Miller   Celebrating Devereux’s Healthcare Heroes: Spotlight on Devereux Arizona Clinician Arnette Miller

At Devereux, our employees are at the heart of everything we do – and are key to our success. Learn how Devereux Arizona Clinician Arnette Miller is serving and inspiring others every day.

New podcast episode   Season 2, Episode 6: ‘Not Your Average School Psychologist’ podcast

Listen to the latest episode of the Devereux Center for Effective Schools’ podcast featuring Amanda Nickerson Ph.D., NCSP, who shares her work informing the National Association of School Psychologists PREPaRE model, which provides training to school crisis response teams. Dr. Nickerson is a professor and director of the Dr. Jean M. Alberti Center for Bullying Abuse Prevention at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York. The podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and Amazon Music/Audible.

Denis Oswe   Servant Leadership Snapshot: Devereux New York Program Manager Denis Oswe

Devereux New York Program Manager Denis Oswe leads by example, treats everyone with respect and demonstrates empathy with the individuals he serves, as well as his colleagues. Learn how he is motivating and inspiring all those around him.

Guests at Gala   Devereux MA/RI gala raises $225,000 to benefit youth, adults with disabilities

More than 200 guests gathered at the historic Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts, for Devereux Massachusetts and Rhode Island’s annual gala to raise critical funds for children, adolescents and adults with emotional, behavioral and cognitive differences.


More Stories