It was in 2004 that Meredith went back to the Southern Comfort Conference. She understood that everyone else there was going to be who he or she was, but she still felt the need to present herself as Professor Wally Bacon. However, she also bought a woman’s business suit and makeup just in case she felt brave enough to reveal herself. When sitting together at a bar, Marcy Bowers chastised Meredith for not showing everyone who she really was. She immediately demanded that Professor Wally Bacon go back upstairs and come back down as Meredith. “So, at the Southern Comfort Conference in 2004, I made my grand introduction to the world as Meredith. Then, some other friends took me out to dinner that night. I was very, very nervous; the wig was terrible” (Bacon). Despite the nerves, she was widely accepted as Meredith and acquired some very supportive new friends at that conference.
It was not until June 2004 at a presentation by a San Francisco plastic surgeon who specialized in facial feminization that Lynne and Wally decided that “Meredith” was going to transition:
The decision itself was made over a considerable amount of time, starting with my severe depression. And little-by-little we discussed it, and we started to edge toward the decision that I would transition. Originally, we were going to wait until I retired. Then probably as a result of going to all these national meetings, we decided not to wait until then, which is a good thing. (Bacon)
Even though she decided not to wait until after retirement, her career has not suffered too much as evidenced by her multiple awards. Although the University no longer asks her to speak about the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe to different civic organizations, Meredith is not angry. Overall, she feels that the University has done everything it possibly could to make her transition easier, including telling the few students who were offended to “grow up and deal with it.”
One of the most amazing things about Meredith’s transition is that she and Lynne stayed together through it. They see love as one part physical and a large part emotional. “The physical transition has not affected my love for her, nor has it affected my sexual orientation. I’m attracted to women, especially Lynne … she’s put up with an incredible amount. I don’t think I could have been that strong. I know she truly loves me” (Bacon 9). Lynne could have left in February 1972, when Meredith told her she was living in the wrong body, but she decided to honor her commitment. Meredith says Lynne often explains her decision like this: “I could have walked out and everything would have been fine. While I would have all these years to get my life together, I would have missed my soul mate” (Bacon). From their perspective, when they married, they took a vow in front of God, and they’re not going to break it.
As a transgender woman, Meredith has unique insight into the definitions of womanhood and the idea of “passing”:
I don’t give a damn if I pass or not. I know who I am and that’s the important thing. I don’t care if other people see me as a woman or a man or neither or both. It’s not important to me … passing isn’t terribly important. But the rigid definition of masculine and feminine, men and women, really does bug me. I think I’m more comfortable with non-gendered defined roles. (Bacon)
She also claims that her views on womanhood have become much less traditional than they were before her transition. However, the largest change that she has noticed is her vulnerability, especially when out alone after dark. As a woman, “I’ve learned to acquire fear” (Bacon).
One of the most exceptional things that Meredith has done with her life is providing a home for transgender youth. Meredith and Lynne give them a home for a short period of time where they provide structure and support for these youth between the ages of 15 and 24. Although most of the time the youth stay with them for a short period of time, there have been a couple of exceptions, some of whom have been living with them for upwards of two years:
We try to get them a safe and supportive environment, which basically means they’re not worried about someone beating them up. And when they talk about their transgender identity we support them, we let them explore it. They can dress however they want to in our house. There were times when we had four trans- youth