This story was originally published Aug. 24, 1996
Dick Giles has 10 children and a marriage that has lasted 33 years, holds a respected position on the mathematics faculty at Santa Rosa Junior College and has had a secret life that is a secret no longer.
This week, Giles returned to the classroom as Diane Giles, dressed as the woman that he says emotionally he is.
"I accept what I am," said Giles, 58. "I just decided I needed to quit living a lie."
Giles said Friday that he is transgender, a woman trapped in a man's body. He has the height, weight, size, hair, hormones and sexual preferences of a man, but the sensitivity and nurturing inclinations of a woman.
"I have identified with the opposite gender ever since I could remember," Giles said. "As the youngest child in a family of all boys, I always thought I should have been a girl. But I learned quickly that was not acceptable. So I played with boys, I did boy things, I learned the masculine role."
This summer, with the support of his wife, Anne, Dick Giles said he decided he needed to come out of the closet and be what he is, dressing full-time in women's clothes, even to visit his family in Quincy, Ill., and attend his 40th high school reunion.
"I didn't choose this," Giles said. "This is something I was born with. It's been with me all my life. In that sense it's like homosexuality, coming from I don't know where."
"I've known about it all the time we have been together," Anne Giles said. "I'm glad the hiding, the worrying and the concern for the mental health of Diane is over. This is the person she is."
On Monday, Dick Giles dressed as a woman and taught his first class as Diane Giles, after notifying his colleagues in the mathematics department a month ago of what was coming. He even addressed the subject for his students, assuring them the class was about mathematics, not about himself.
The reaction by students, faculty and administrators was shock and surprise -- particularly from those who have known him over the years -- and few complaints. Some called him courageous, while others were puzzled why he would make the change this year, his last before retirement.