Whatever happened to Bobbi Swan?

| Mar 23, 2009
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For many years TGF was graced with material writen by Bobbi Swan. Best known for her Maturity column and her articles on all things related to being a maid Ms. Swan disappeared from this publication and went out to enjoy her life. We’re happy to say she’s still enjoying it and she has sent us a new installement of Maturity that gets us all caught up on what she’s been up to. So if you’ve been wondering whatever happened to Bobbi Swan click on “more” and find out.


Yes I am 78 years old.

No I don’t feel like it and hope that I never will!

Yes I am having a great time and very much at peace with myself at this ripe old age.

Yes, I’m still a virgin (oops a recent change) in my new gender that is over six years now.

No, I am not searching for Mr. Right with any anticipation. Maybe that is because I am quite mature and comfortable in reality – and selectivity!

Yes, I am very much alive in all parts when it comes to the sex of my womanhood.

Yes, I have some very close friends; mostly women and I have been fully accepted by all.

Yes, I still dress with femininity, as my mother would have insisted in her day and times. My hair stylists are Jennifer and Maggie, and I meet once a week and share the gossip of the day in as a regular. Even Maggie’s mother, Shirley, is a close friend as well. Most of the clerks at the markets, restaurants, my bank and many supporting doctors and places of life that I utilize know me by sight and always greet me with broad smiles and hearty greetings. A local newspaper, the Macomb Daily did a photo and an article on my attending the first Super Bowl game in Los Angeles and never mentioned my gender change although we had discussed it.

The San Diego Union Tribune
did a large two-page article with me they published on Father’s Day two years ago. It was a fine article except for the photo they selected from the many that they took the day of my visit. Ugh, I wish that I could forget that forever and hope those that read and saw it will think better of me. The one they used was a photo that I supplied and was taken by a close friend that had adopted me as her ‘aunt’ after my surgery, Anemarie.

Yes, I am still an alcoholic. I always will be.

No, I have not had a drink in 31 years. I chuckle to think that I have been dry now longer than when I had been drinking.

Yes, I did have to struggle with the health of my body over three years ago. Those of you that saw me remember how badly hobbled I was with my left leg and hip. I finally got after that with great help from my doctor, Michelle, and after a series of X-rays realized that my hip was truly shot and badly misaligned as a result. My left leg was an inch and a half shorter than the other and had atrophied. I was shuffled about a bit and finally was given the Xmas present of the year with a total hip replacement in November 2004. I’ve got a titanium hip now and am happy that science has moved so far along! I’m complete with an ID for airline travel and security inspections. I got along super with my stairs and walking Katie those first few months and by the end of the first year I was able to jog with her trying to keep up until she’d find a spot that smelled especially good to her!!

Today after hip surgery I am completely normal in all my activities with the new hip and have even had a chance to dance and jitterbug at the local bar and grill! Further I can now abduct my legs fully (Ed’s. Note: She’s not kidnapping them. She’s using the term in its physiological meaning: “move (a limb or part) away from the midline of the body or from another part”) and have discovered a whole new world of gender sexuality! HRT has also filled out my entire genital area, upper thighs and tummy in feminine shape. Not happy with that tummy at all but that goes with the territory I’m told.

Yes, the hip replacement treatment I received, as a woman in the hospital was incredible and a tremendous affirmation to me of my gender.

I spent 11 days in the hospital, St. Joseph’s, here for my hip replacement with 6 of those days in the rehab section of the hospital. And by the way those included three varied hours each day of both Physical Therapy and Occupational Therapy with a varied staff of specialists.

I have never been treated with more dignity and support before in my life and you must know as I had imagined and later checked out — there was probably not a soul in that hospital that did not know of my gender status and SRS two years earlier. I made so many true friends with varying degrees of age and background that it was amazing. In a nutshell I was treated like an absolute queen and believe me with some of the most personal questions anyone could care to ask. I encouraged that. After all, what could be better gossip in the hall but to discuss the gender background of Bobbi? You soon discover that everyone wants to take a peek at you — and sometimes even more!

Of course they all knew (and some shocked at this) to discover that I was really 74 years old. That look of astonishment on their faces was always one of my biggest morale boosts. And remember darlings, I never had any makeup on for the entire time and that poor head of hair had not been washed since the day before when lovely Anemarie did it and also refreshed the color. My gel fingernails were hospital clear although my pedicure was a perfect OPI Pompeii Purple!

The smile and tone of interest of the first young OT gal that helped me to learn to wash and clean myself the first day was entrancing. She politely asked permission and then shaved my underarms before simply questioning further if she could touch my breasts. You see she really wanted to know about implants and was seeking advice. (I’ve had four annual mammograms since with amazing conversations with the providers about my breasts. The last nurse just took one look and exclaimed, “Who was your surgeon?” Another told me that she would not have known except that on your form you have to list your last period. I had written “Not Applicable.”)

I should add here that in OT I had to prove my ability as a woman as well entering a car and moving about. I was tested on my cooking with a stove, washing dishes, doing laundry, and ironing clothes. (I didn’t have to prove my skills cleaning toilets!)

I had one key nurse in her fifties that became a great friend — born in Sicily and lived there till nine before immigrating with her family. How she loved to tell me of growing up there as a little girl when I pressed her. You see here I had a chance to practice something that has always been of great help to me — become interested in the other person and let her talk to you. (By the way, this does not work as well for men — you have to go about it in a different manner — start by asking him where he went to school.) In the hospital it’s the very best thing to do and get you off yourself and personal plight and into another’s life.

It also works great in real life too!

And that was just one of many other marvelous staff members that I learned about — and as one super nurse tending to me late one night in a difficult time said to me in confidence, “That’s how we make our big bucks!”

I can honestly say that I was totally accepted in my gender — cautiously at first by the male interns and doctors — but eventually with full interest and friendship. The head doctor has even asked if I might return for some volunteer work there. I’ll be seeing more of him and obviously my surgeon who is an absolute bearded doll of 61 from Brown University. Not Theta Delta Chi, my fraternity at MIT! I checked that with him as I was on the gurney going into the OR — wondering if THE grip might be in order. His staff has been fantastic with me as well as all in my regular HMO (Henry Ford Health System).

In the last two years I had eye surgery on both eyes (separately) to give me new lenses and the surgery was accomplished in the out patient wing of my HMO and once again all knew of me prior to arriving and once again I was treated like a Queen in all ways. I even found one of the nurses holding my hand while my eyes were incapable of sight during the surgery. It was quite an experience that I wrote and thanked so kindly for and received a thank you note from the surgeon’s private nurse. I took my new driver’s eye test just before Labor Day and now have a new one without the restriction for wearing eyeglasses! That’s the first for that in decades. It meant a new photo too and still I look like my mother.

And by the way, before you ask, Anemarie was another of my hairdressers for a year before moving on into a marriage and has adopted me as her Aunt. Anemarie started me out as her “mother” but with her having been turned down for height by the Marines at 4’ 11” (five feet is the limit) that would never do. She is now a loving ‘niece’ (I’m a better Auntie Mame) that has helped me so greatly through this hip replacement taking care of my condo and Schnauzer Katie.

Yes, my family has accepted me. It’s still sometimes tough on my two boys now in the late afternoon of their forties and early fifties and with my grandchildren. They love me like always — they just don’t know what to do with me! My greatest acceptance has been with my actress cousin Audrey Peters, her twin sisters, and my nephew Richard who I had been more of a big brother to. Audrey has always been my role model that I wish had been my big sister! I finally gathered up my courage to come out to her two years ago. We had not seen each other for years and Audrey first asked if I was in the Witness Protection Program. She knew a lot of my background and spooky travel.

My Mom was also her godmother making us even closer. Audrey has a lovely home on the water at Mantoloking, NJ as well as an apartment in NYC. It was a great reunion. Audrey had both hips replaced years ago. She was up on her toes as a ballet dancer when a very young girl and much too soon. Audrey went on to dancing at the Stage Door Canteen while in High School and then was a Toastette dancing on the Ed Sullivan Show before going on to Broadway Theatre in High Button Shoes and Middle of the Night understudying Gena Rowlands. After that she went into TV in the soaps as Vanessa, the lead in Love of Life, for 20 years and then 5 more on Guiding Light. In the early days she double dated with Shirley Maclaine and on one of the soaps was the aunt to Christopher Reed for two years. And just last May Audrey went back on Guiding Light for a few days as one of the “old timers.” She just turned 81 this February!

Swimming in her pool by the bay was utter delight. We have had two great reunions and plan more.

Yes, those are my happy thoughts for all of you everyday of the week. When we are well adjusted to the gender we live in we can live very healthy and productive lives — and in peace and with pride in ourselves. And so much of this happiness is due to so many of you that have helped me along the way. I thank you all from the bottom of my heart that you have helped me keep beating so well.

So I think that I can call this one more very full year of my life and a happy one that I am grateful for. And now it is on to the future that I hope will be an even greater. I certainly wish that for all of you and sincerely hope that this will be a super season for you too! We are only as old as we think of ourselves!

Bobbi Renae Swan

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Association, Inc., the former editor of that organization's newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She wrote the Diva of Dish column for TGF in the late 1990s and was the Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She is currently the Editor of TGF. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows. In her idle hours she keeps busy producing her monthly TG parties, Angela's Laptop Lounge.

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