From The Washington Post

For months, Bill Rohr kept three clocks running on his iPad. One counted down the days to his retirement as a surgeon: Dec. 31, 2015. Another counted up the days since he and his wife, Linda, married: June 15, 1968.

The third clock, the most recent addition and the one that most occupied Rohr’s thoughts, showed the days until his Feb. 17, 2016, surgery at Mills-Peninsula Medical Center south of San Francisco.

At age 70, Bill would become Kate.

It was an operation he’d long ago dismissed as unattainable — but one Linda said he deserved to have. She’d traveled the arc of his life, supportive even after his bombshell confession.

Yet before leaving for the hospital that February morning, Linda had to make sure. “You still want to do this?” she asked.

“Absolutely,” her spouse answered.

A short time later, a smiling, even ebullient patient lay propped up in bed, awaiting the final pre-op questions. The name on the medical file passed among the staff already read Kathryn Rohr. Kate for short.

“And your goal today?” a nurse asked.

“Turning an outie into an innie,” Kate answered, laughing.

Linda, hovering nearby, absent-mindedly smoothed the bedsheet. Nothing to do now but wait. Finally, she sat down by the door, clutching Kate’s clothes and their two purses. She was the only one in the room visibly nervous.

Three years earlier, sitting at the dining-room table at their home in Fort Bragg, Calif., it was her husband who’d been nervous, unsure of what was about to happen.

From the time he was little, he began telling his wife, he had believed he was a female in a male body.

It wasn’t about the clothes or toys, he explained. He’d never yearned to be a princess or ballerina. He just couldn’t understand why everyone around him treated him like a boy instead of a girl.

“Something just told me, I’m the other half of the population,” he said.

To a bright child with a gift for engineering and logic, this mystery of mistaken gender had been something to puzzle over but never question out loud. It certainly couldn’t be shared — not with his parents or his brothers or his friends. Even if they accepted it, what could anyone really do?

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