Don (left) transitioned into a woman named Denise (right).

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Back in 2003, the Brunner family blended right in on their tree-lined suburban street. Don and Fran were high school sweethearts who married after college and started a family. To friends and neighbors, they seemed like an all-American couple.

Then, everything changed. Don, the man of the house, decided to become a woman named Denise.

Friends and family were shocked by the decision, Denise says. "My closest friends said they had no hint because I had to hide it so well," she says. "I had to try to do the most masculine things to keep that stuff suppressed."

In high school, when Denise was still living as Don, she says she wrestled and played football. As an adult, she worked as a plumber and coached football in her free time. "I did everything possible to keep my feminine side in check by trying to be super macho," Denise says.

The only person who knew Denise was struggling with a secret was her wife, Fran. "She came out to me in college that she liked to wear women's underwear," Fran says. "Then, it progressed to more than just the underwear. I figured once we got married, everything would go away. ... I thought that I could change her."
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FROM: Transgender Families
Published on October 12, 2007

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