From left: Chrissy, Sarah, Leslie, Katie and her friend Helen. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)
The fabulously ridiculous story of Leslie McMurray’s transition, as explained by her loving daughter Sarah
DAVID TAFFET | Senior Staff Writer
So let’s start at the happily-ever-after ending. When Leslie McMurray married Katie Sprinkle in September, Leslie’s two daughters were beaming as they walked her down the aisle. As daughter Sarah explained, now her children have two grandmas; Katie was now officially part of the family, and they adore Katie. And, Sarah said, she’d never seen Leslie happier.
And that’s the way every story of transitioning should be.
When Leslie recalls the time she told Sarah about transitioning, she remembers that her daughter told her she wished she had known before, so she could have told her dad goodbye.
Sarah explains that she didn’t quite grieve for her father when she became Leslie. After all, she still had a parent who shared all the memories of their life together. Yet, it did mark an end to one period of her life. For example, they no longer celebrate Father’s Day. But, Sarah says, she was glad when they discovered Trans Parent Day.
And, as it turns out, Sarah likes Leslie much more than she ever really liked Dad.
“Dad was a staunch Republican,” Sarah said. “Close-minded, always battling over whether gay is a choice. I was always the advocate, even after dad began transitioning.”
Yes, the Leslie McMurray who regularly berates the right wing via her Dallas Voice column for trampling on her civil rights, who works for Resource Center as a policy advocate, and who testifies about equality before the Texas Legislature … in the distant past, another lifetime … was a Trump-supporting Kardashian who could have become Caitlin Jenner.
Sarah describes dad as “Rigid. Hostile. Your room had to be just so. Not the most pleasant of people to be around.”
As kids, she says, she and her sister had no clue about their dad’s secret. “Dad was uber-masculine,” she says. “Always at the gun range. Asleep on the couch, mouth open. Nothing feminine about that.”
Sarah recalls she first learned Leslie was transgender from her mom, who told her bluntly, “Your dad’s a crossdresser.” But rather than being shocked or angry, Sarah says she was grateful to see Leslie emerging, even though watching the transition was, at times, painful.
“It can be difficult watching your father turn into a 16-year-old girl starting from scratch — ‘Look at me,’ ‘Look at my bracelet,’” she explains. “Being a woman is more than what’s on the outside.”
Going through a teenager phase is common for people who come out as gay, lesbian or transgender later in life. But from that initial adolescent phase emerged the women Sarah loves now more than ever. “Leslie’s more open-minded than my dad ever was,” she says. “She’s embraced the gay community.”
Leslie and Katie married in September in a ceremony at their house in Coppell. So that guests would easily find the house, they hung a transgender flag over the door.
Before guests arrived, a child from down the street rang the doorbell, wanting to explain that they are transgender and they wanted to meet whomever was flying the flag. Leslie welcomed the little girl in and told her if she ever needed support or wanted to talk, their door was open.
“I loved that,” Sarah says. “Dad wouldn’t have done that.”
As for Katie, Sarah says she is “the best part of this journey.” Sprinkle, she explains, listens and cares — she is a whole person who loves family and has an interesting career as an attorney. And, Sarah adds, Katie has helped Leslie grow as a person.
“It’s so important to have someone in your life who understands you,” Sarah says. “We were over-the-moon happy.”
So when she found out Leslie and Katie were getting married, Sarah and her sister Chrissy knew they wanted to walk Leslie down the aisle.
And how did she explain the transition to her three children, who are now seven, eight and nine? When they learned several years ago, Sarah says, she simply explained, “Some people are born with the wrong outside and they get it fixed.” And now having loving, transgender grandparents is the most natural thing to them.
Sarah believes Leslie would have been happier had she transitioned earlier. Had that happened, she says, it would have been okay, because “Your family loves you for who you are not what your genitalia is.”