She, Her, We, Our, and Us
Born male on May 22nd, making her a Gemini, the year not important; Stefanie knew she was different from age three and would play with her “Twin-Spirit,” “Stephen.”
I was a male at birth, knowing I was a female. Didn’t know what that meant. I just knew that my “mother always wanted a daughter.”
She is currently searchable as @The_Only_Stefanie_Clark
Stefanie has always acknowledged her own challenges with Non-Binary pronouns, and now has created the use of new ones to recognize the “Twin Spirit” of “Our” journey, just so her audiences can discern the direction of her story through voice, clothing and the “pronouns”.
“Stefanie’s life is a composite of the traditional binary. In one video of Stefanie’s coming-out story, she switches genders, in one sentence. When the video director started blocking out her story, he used two actors to play Stefanie.”
Renaissance Woman | transgender Woman | Storyteller
Gender begins to manifest itself at age 3 or 4. The female persona can be the first to manifest itself, followed by the male with his masculine persona and increased body size, and takes the dominant role in our society.
Because my mother always wanted a daughter and would use Stephen as a dress dummy for making girls’ clothes for the next door neighbors daughters, one could say that, I started dressing up in girls’ clothes as early as the age of 6. My mother found me in her lingerie at age 11, but I did not start dressing as a girl independently until I was in high school.
Between my 12th and 14th birthday every male in my family had died.
My father was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease when I was 12, the following year my brother died in a car accident; and four days later my grandfather, my best friend, died of a heart attack in my arms. Leaving me the only male in the family, knowing I’m a female.
I entered the seminary just before my father’s death praying that I could become a girl, I thought I was meant to be. Never really going to happen. The only thing the seminary did teach me was how to masturbate and set me on the journey of a twin spirited person, with Stephen taking the prominent position for the next 68 years. During that period of time Stefanie remained in the closet, taking time for experiencing her private desires.
Active Business Person | Problem-Solver | Philanthropist | Runway Model
Leaving the seminary in 1960, I finished my last year in high school at Seattle Preparatory High School in Seattle Washington – graduating in 1961. I commenced my college education at Seattle University in Seattle, Washington. I dated & fell in love with girls, but liked them more as a fellow girl as opposed to a girlfriend. I lived for the thrill of touching and wearing female clothing. Many of my female friends enjoyed teaching me how to be a girl.
During my senior year in college I met and married my wife of 44 years in 1967– we were married in 10 months so I was a good closer. My wife knew of my dressing but chose not to participate.
All this time I was presenting as straight, but I had started to accumulate my own cache of female clothing. While in college, I always worked in retail sales of both male clothing and female accessories, like sweaters, blouses, scarves etc.
Fitting the girls was alway better than putting a jacket on a guy.
The two women in my life who could have had a positive impact on my dressing were absent, leaving it to me to figure it out.
In 1966, during my senior year of college, I got an internship with Arthur Anderson & Company. It was then the most prestigious CPA firm in the world. In 1967, when I did not get a job offer, I went to my intern/mentor and asked, “why wasn’t I offered a job?” His response was, “you have been on the payroll for a year and a half, get back to work.”
My public accounting expertise centered around small businesses, helping them solve their business and tax issues. I became one of the “go-to-guys” (not the only yet) problem solver and tax specialist.
This reputation manifests itself even today.
Now a Certified Public Accountant, and with my required internship completed I accepted a position with Equity Funding Corporation Of America, as chief accounting officer for the Company’s Insurance Divisions. The company itself was one of the fastest growing financial service companies in the world. I was 27, playing in the Big Leagues.
Arriving at my new office, I found the Company “Seized and Placed into Bankruptcy” the night before. That morning I was the highest ranking officer of the company.
Over the next seventeen months working with the Trustee in bankruptcy, we brought the company out of bankruptcy and had warrants issued resulting in all those officers serving time in prison. I was not even thirty and had a reputation as being part of the team that brought the company out of bankruptcy. Problem solver became my Nom de plume.
At a recent cocktail party, talking with one of the founders of a National Actuarial Firm, I found out that I might be the only living savior of Equity Fund. There is a BBC Documentary called the “Billion dollar Bubble.” The documentary ends on the day I arrive. I am now the “only one” that knows it all. All senior public accountants and attorneys spent time in jail and lost their licenses to practice their profession. And I spent my life talking about them calling them by “their name”.
In 1974, I was recruited to help Kaufman and Broad Homes – a Worldwide Home Builder, to help consolidate their east-coast divisions, which I competed in 1976. Using my insurance background, I helped Kaufman and Broad to gain some insurance against the adverse business swings in the housing industry.
We accomplished that by buying four insurance companies and consolidating all corporate offices in Atlanta, Georgia.
In 1982, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Washington and Alaska recruited me to return home as its Chief Operating Officer and incumbent CEO. The latter never happened, and I returned to the consulting field and began replicating Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, working with a large Swiss pharmaceutical company. I commuted from Seattle through Hong Kong To Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. A little longer commute than my current Red Line trip, but definitely more glamorous. The government pulled the plug on the prospect, because they could no longer afford “national healthcare.”
In 1989, I was recruited to be part of a three person management team that grew an insurance company from scratch. We had $10 million in assets and grew them to $7 Billion in 6 years until Xerox decided to exit the financial services sector by retaining me to liquidate the assets over a 7 year period.
Then I bought a hardware store, the best ten years of my life, the worst financially.
In 2006, my “only” wife was diagnosed with breast cancer which recurred as bone cancer. The last year of her life was excruciating. In 2011, during the last 3 weeks of her life, I slept in the hospital room. Until, upon the doctor’s recommendation, I executed a Do Not Resuscitate- which was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
Her death gave Stefanie her life. I came out the next day. It was not the entrance I anticipated. I learned the hard way to spell euphoria-followed by waves of dysphoria.
"I came came out the next day. It was not the entrance i anticipated.."
- Stefanie Clark
In 2015, the death of my stepfather, the only male role model I had, my mothers partner for 55 years died. Leaving me financially secure and with the assets to do anything I wanted to do.
While transitioning back to Chicago, I set out my plan. I wanted to buy a place on Lake Michigan with nothing between the lake and me. I wanted to commence my gender affirming journey and I wanted to create philanthropic vehicles to give back to those who have helped me. And, most importantly, I wanted to live as a woman with all the beauty and dignity my wife displayed during her whole life.
I could for the first time see myself in a place of prominence doing good and causing no harm. I am not the “only one” to say that, but I try to live it every day.
I did my mental health part of the gender affirming journey at Center on Halsted and my hormone replacement therapy at Howard Brown Health. Some of my best friends today, I met at those institutions. I completed my gender affirming journey in Illinois in under 6 months, that in previous years would have taken several years with emotional stress and financial discomfort.
Receiving my name and gender marker on June 24, 2016 standing before the judge hearing my “only name” for the first time, I am thinking: “ I hope my mother likes her new daughter.”
I took my wife’s Nordstrom, “Singular” card issued in 1967 out for a test drive, even though it did not have a magnetic strip, with help we made it work. I remember my wife always took advantage of Nordstroms’ personal shoppers. I presented myself at customer service and requested a stylist to support me for my attendance at my first of many gala.
A person from France was assigned to me, and she worked with me for 4 years and she helped build a closet befitting the needs of a “Mature Sassy Renaissance Woman. Classy Costs A Little More”. Most gala events are business or philanthropic related. However, for the Annual Center on Halsted gala, I went as “Arm Candy” and I saved $500 which I later spent on clothing.
Now October 20, 2022 I am presenting clothing just chosen “only for me.” All I have to do is walk a Chicago block, in 1 minute 20 seconds and smile for the audience and cameras four times, “we will see how effective this lady is.”
An early friend said that Stefanie was devoid of personality. Recently, that same person complimented me on my presence and visibility in the community. Then admonished me to “not forget Stephen, because as good you think you are he carried you for 68 years.” Now I take them both into all my meetings, feeling Stephen’s analytical talents and feeling Stefanie’s emotions. In the middle of one problem solving meeting Stefanie brings the softer side of insight and she can tear up.
During one meeting with an organization supporting children and families experiencing cancer, Stefanie has no good thoughts for that disease, and I can feel Stefanie starting to tear up. That feeling empowered Stephen to come up with even better solutions and the sponsor only has to pay for one admission.
Stefanie is a public speaker on many topics relating to LGBTQ+ aging and health disparities. Focusing on the care and feeding of our Transgender and Non-Binary youth, through her philanthropy to Howard Brown Health’s Broadway Youth Center in Chicago. As a Renaissance Woman with a unique set of responsibilities, She’s an activist, storyteller, and recently discovered fashion runway model.