After Transparently

By Lisa S. Salazar

Preface to Then This Happened

The original name of the book I published in 2011 was “Transparently: Behind the Scenes of a good life.” The memoir covered the first 59 years and six months of my life, through the first month after I underwent gender confirmation surgery. I wrote the book in the three months leading up to the surgery; it was a time of ecstasy and hopeful anticipation for me.

As such, the title I picked was descriptive of how I saw my life at that time. I had nothing to hide; I felt open and candid in sharing my life’s journey. There was much truth to the subtitle as well; I had lived a good life in the sense that life had been good to me. I acknowledged my gratitude and many privileges. Nothing I said in the original preface was a fabrication or a spin. Those were my honest feelings.

This edition of the book completes the story of my life up through March 30, 2023, exactly 13 years since I underwent GRS. But I no longer view my life or the world through the same rose-colored glasses.

I considered using “Hellhole” as the title for the second edition of Transparently; It seemed like an apt container for the rage I felt as I wrote. But on reflection, I realized this jaundiced perspective was only apt if I surrendered to the rage.

What is the cause of my rage? It is my response to the persistent and deliberate attacks on trans persons by Christian conservative, right-wing politicians and organizations bent on erasing trans people. As I write this update, a handful of GOP-ruled states have laws in the making that criminalize trans-specific health care to minors and threaten to take the medical licenses away from doctors who treat trans youth and charge parents who support their child’s transition with child abuse.

According to Lambda Legal, from January 1 through March 30, 2023, a staggering 435 anti-LGBTQ+ bills have been introduced in 45 States, most of which target transgender youth and adults. And indeed, several states have passed those bills. The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) reports that 23 percent of trans youth in the U.S. have already lost access to gender-affirming care.

These laws go against the best practices of trans-related pediatrics outlined by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), the American Medical Association (AMA), and the American Psychological Association (APA). Numerous studies have shown that a lack of societal acceptance and access to gender-affirming care contribute to high rates of suicidal ideation—and suicide—among trans youth. I personally knew two young people who chose the latter.

The Architects and supporters of these bills are anti-LGBTQ groups include The Alliance Defending Freedom and the Heritage Foundation, the American Principles Project, as well as a more recent group that was formed in 2021, Moms for Liberty.  

Rather than surrendering to the rage, I considered a more descriptive title for Section 2 of the book. I thought about the narrative process and the question I kept asking myself, “What happened next?” Suddenly I had a new theme—and title!

“Then This Happened:” is a much better container for all the stuff I’ve experienced and seen in my post-surgery life--most of it unexpected.

Over the years, I’ve been asked if I planned to write a sequel to “Transparently.” The truth was that I didn’t think I would. Then, out of the blue, an author-representative for a publishing company contacted me to ask the same question but from a different angle. They were thinking of a second edition with two parts. Section 1 would remain as my life pre-surgery, and Section 2 would cover my life post-surgery. Not writing a sequel or a separate book sounded interesting, but I was not in the right frame to consider the undertaking. But the seed of an idea was planted.

Coincidentally, this interaction with a publisher happened when I was about to complete my training as a multi-faith Spiritual Care Practitioner, also called a hospital chaplain. At about that time, too, I stopped writing blog posts; call it self-censorship. I had too much rage inside me, and I wanted to lash out at those attacking the trans community; I didn’t want to be labeled an angry tranny.

I know it makes no sense; on the one hand, I had been training to offer comfort, solace, and spiritual support to total strangers, and on the other, I wanted to lash out. But I’m getting ahead of myself—first, a bit of historical context.

In my original preface, I credited a friend for prying open the story of my life with all her probing questions. Her name was Jan Williams, a retired journalist, and though I never met her in person, we became close friends by email. I gave her credit in the preface to Transparently and at the end of chapter 11. I also credited her for pushing me to write an epilogue (chapter 12) and add an appendix.

Jan was the older sister of one of my brother’s closest friends. Just before Christmas 2009, she posted on our high school’s Facebook page about her brother Steven, who had been a well-known morning D.J. in Denver, L.A., and Hawaii and had been murdered by a greedy associate. My correspondence with Jan began when I sent her a direct message expressing my condolences. I told her I had tried to let Steven know when my brother passed away in 1985, with no luck. That led to her wanting to learn about my family and me, resulting in Transparently. This all occurred while prosecutors in L.A. were putting together the murder case against the man who conned Steven from his and Jan’s inheritance and then killed him. The man was sentenced to life in prison in November 2011. Sadly, Jan passed away penniless a year later.

I am grateful to Jan for the journalistic curiosity that motivated her to ask me all the questions that got me talking. I trusted her.

Another important person who played a role in telling my story was Duncan Holmes, the friend who wrote the foreword to this book. I am sad to report that Duncan also passed away in May 2021. What saddened me most was that due to the COVID pandemic, I could not spend time with him in the months leading up to his death from pancreatic cancer. He was like an older brother to me; he and his partner were my cheerleading section when I began my transition. Peace to both Jan and Duncan.

Let me touch on how I approached this second edition, Section 2. I first reviewed Part I and corrected typos and punctuation errors. I also looked for ways to improve the word flow and, in some cases, improve the clarity of the text while resisting the urge to revise stories. I reminded myself that though my views have changed with time, including some of my spiritual beliefs, these stories record how I thought and saw things in 2010.

In 2011, I started writing a blog. Even though, as mentioned above, I hit the pause button and stopped writing in the fall of 2018, the blogpost provided a timeline and archive of experiences and the evolution of my thinking. As such, I include some of the things I wrote during those years, inserting them into the narrative while trying to preserve the chronology. I’ve included relevant blog posts, published Op-Eds, and summarized essays and papers from my studies. If nothing else, the final product proves that my life today does not look like anything I imagined when I published Transparently in 2011.

I hope you find Section 2 of this book as interesting as Part I.

— Lisa


Then This Happened is a unique book in the transgender niche. Lisa Salazar transitioned in her late 50s after decades of internal struggle when language couldn’t fully express her gender dysphoria. It took courage for a Christian husband, father, and business owner to risk everything without knowing the outcome. Lisa’s book generously shares her struggles, decisions, thoughts, and eventual successes. I got to know Lisa intimately shortly after her transition thirteen years ago. While I knew other transgender individuals, none as deeply as Lisa. Although activism was never her goal, her kindness, empathy, gentleness, and commitment to truth led her to address injustices and educate others publicly. Then This Happened delicately reveals the complexities and challenges faced by transgender people. I’ve had a front-row seat to Lisa’s remarkable journey, and now readers can meet and learn from my dear friend, just as I have.

Kathy Baldock, Author Walking the Bridgeless Canyon, and Founder
Canyonwalker Connections, Reno, Nevada


In her double work of biographies, Transparently and its sequel, Then This Happened, Lisa Salazar offers a comprehensive view of her post-transition trajectory, including the ups and downs of her new life. Amidst a world that challenges individual rights, Lisa shares her journey of self-realization. This edition highlights her transformative encounter with lives more at peril than her own, propelling her into life-saving activism that also transforms her as a helper. Her mental battles with faith and fundamentalism do not diminish her enduring faith in God or her belief in the capacity of individuals to make a difference. Through multiple angles and stories, the book provides deep understanding and truth about the contemporary transgender experience and the resilience of those who choose to live their truth amidst a turbulent world. Enjoy the ride and
gain valuable insights into what it means to be trans today.

Vincent E. Gil, Ph.D., FAACS Professor Emeritus of Medical Anthropology and Sexual Sciences, Vanguard University

Founding Fellow, American Academy of Clinical Sexology


This  engaging autobiography is an important addition to the burgeoning materials about trans lives.

barbara findlay, Lawyer and Activist, Vancouver, Canada


When I transitioned, Lisa Salazar’s memoir was a very helpful resource. Then This Happened, her updated memoir, continues the honest narrative of her journey as she navigates with grace and insight through the harshness and hope of living authentically.

Paula Stone Williams, Author of As A Woman, What I Learned About Power,
Sex, and the Patriarchy After I Transitioned


It’s often only when we listen to each other’s stories that true love, understanding, and change occurs. In this amazing book, Lisa displays the incredible courage of her journey and the vulnerability to help people understand the true plight of being transgender. This is a must read, and will surely open your heart, mind, and soul to the divine beauty and bravery of being transgender.

Chris Kratzer, Author of Stupid Shit Heard in Church and  Leatherbound Terrorism

© 2022 L.S.Salazar. All Rights Reserved