Manuela Neuroth


62 Years, Bonn

“When I saw a documentary about a trans* woman on television
for the first time in the 90s, I was gripped by defensiveness,
fascination and insatiable longing in equal measure. …”

Published: May 2022


At the age of 5, I noticed for the first time that “something was wrong” with me, when I was filled with a bright feeling of joy at being mistaken for a girl – at the same time I was confused and ashamed about it. Never would I have wanted to talk about it to anyone, just as I would never have wanted to talk about how beautiful I thought it was to secretly wear my mother’s wedding dress in the attic. Other hidden feminine preferences developed, at the same time combined with a strong aversion to male-typical behavior. I steadfastly refused to wear suits or ties or to undress in front of other boys in the locker room during sports. On the other hand, I wanted to be accepted and not ridiculed.

So I deliberately took up masculine hobbies and did everything else to hide my developing feminine inner self from others.

Girls always fascinated me – I admired them, wanted to be like them and fell in love with them. I found the love of my life at 19, to whom I am still married and have 3 wonderful children. Unfortunately, my attempt to tell about my inner feelings was brusquely dismissed by my then girlfriend and so I remained alone with my hidden feelings and the female parallel world that was building up inside me for decades.

When I saw a documentary about a trans* woman on television for the first time in the 90s, I was gripped by defensiveness, fascination and insatiable longing in equal measure. It was clear to me that a mirror was being held up to me. On the other hand, I felt inner resistance, because I saw the consequences and dangers if I gave in to my desires. So I imposed a ban on gathering information on myself, which I kept up for more than 20 years, until the topic of transgender became so present in the media that I gave in and began an Internet search, which confirmed my suspected self-diagnosis of “transident” after a very short time.

After that my thoughts circled only around my transsexuality and I understood that there was no way around my coming out. Starting with my wife and my children, I opened up to friends and a few good colleagues and was very surprised about the largely positive reactions and support offered, as the stories on the Internet were mostly characterized by personal disasters. This also applied to the professional life, where I was not aware of a single comparable case at my employer RWE, which caused me particular anxiety. So I firmly expected to lose my professional and human reputation as well as to be ostracized and ridiculed in this male-dominated, at that time (as I thought at least) quite conservative company.

But things turned out quite differently. First of all, I ran into an open door in the Diversity department when I asked them for support for my plans to make the transition to becoming a woman at work. Finally, someone at RWE was openly admitting to being transgender by name and face, I was told, and together we worked out a plan for coming out at work, for which I gained support all the way up to the Executive Board. After personally informing a few colleagues and superiors in advance, with whom I had a special relationship, our board of directors sent an e-mail to its managers during my vacation, who in turn distributed it to their employees.

To my delight, I received warm and supportive messages while still on vacation, so that my worries about the reactions of my colleagues melted away like snow in the sun! Numerous other outing conversations followed with people who were personally important to me and with whom I placed particular value on them understanding my story and accompanying me on my journey! However, it should also be mentioned that I lost some friends who did not want to follow my transformation, but in their place I was able to meet wonderful new people.

It was also hard for my closest family, but we stuck together and walked the sometimes rocky road together.

At RWE, we got in touch with another trans* woman, a gay colleague joined us and we founded the LGBTIQ & Friends Network at RWE, which now has 225 members. In addition to warm friendship, we are now united by the goal of making it easier for other members of the LGBTIQ community to come out at work. To this end, we provide assistance and advice and are in close contact with other companies and LGBT*IQ networks in Germany.

Dear Manuela, Thank you very much for YourStory!