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No Longer Following the Textbook

June 27, 2018 | Express Scripts

Johnna H. is the director of pharma contracting responsible for the oversight of our proposal and contracting processes with Specialty Pharmaceutical Manufacturers.

I had a textbook life if there is such a thing. I grew up in the Boston suburbs with my siblings, had a high school job, ran cross-country, played baseball, sang in chorus, and acted in the school play. I married my high school sweetheart, Rebecca, moved to Florida, completed graduate school, and became a parent to two beautiful children, Wayne and John. I coached T-ball and served as the co-committee chair for my son’s Cub Scout Pack. I love cheeseburgers, math, camping, hiking, and running.

Although my story may seem somewhat typical from the outside, I was secretly struggling with an internal conflict and lived in denial for as long as I can remember. Last year, I resolved that conflict when I admitted to myself that I am transgender and began my journey of transitioning. I am a transgender woman.

Gender identity can be a very confusing concept. The vast majority of the population is cisgender, which means that the gender they internally identify with aligns with their biological sex. For the remaining minority of the population, there is a mismatch between the two. It is hard — if not impossible — to put into plain words what it is like to have your mind, heart, and soul be female and your body be male. It is as if the whole world is not seeing the real you.

Many who have already taken this path explained to me that this is a long and slow process. In contrast, my wife said, “You don’t do anything slowly.” You can probably guess who was right. Over the course of three months, I came out to the world, changed my legal name, and started living life as Johnna. Being on this journey has been the most difficult thing I have ever done, but being true to myself has also been one of the most rewarding chapters of my life so far.

I am fortunate that I have received tremendous support from my wife, family, friends, and co-workers. I am especially thankful for Express Scripts’ support during my transition and their commitment to diversity. My first job in high school was with Freedom Fertility Pharmacy, a subsidiary of Express Scripts. This means that for more than half of my life, the Express Scripts family has been by my side during life’s challenges. I was relieved to learn that this transition would be no different. People always ask how everyone is taking the change at work. I always reply — hugs and smiles.

Part of the mission of the EXPRESSions, Express Scripts’ LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, is to foster an environment where everyone feels comfortable bringing their whole self to work and feels secure, respected, and accepted. A large part of me wants to simply blend in as just another woman and not share my story. However, if it helps someone else be true to their self and raises awareness of transgender issues, then being “out” is worth it.

Since starting this new chapter, I have experienced feelings that I have never felt before. When I described them to my wife, she said that these are feelings of peace and calmness. I am glad I am no longer living a textbook life, and I cannot imagine it any other way.

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One thought on “No Longer Following the Textbook

  1. Christy Tagye

    Love your openness. It not only helps those who have never known a transgender individual understand your journey & how to interact through the transition but also helps this become more open & accepted. Additionally I’m betting there will be someone who reads this that can identify & feel okay about who they are! Thanks for being brave!


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