Jen Santoro Rotty at age 13 (left) in 1980, age three in 1970, and at 26 in 1993.

Jen Santoro Rotty is a Reporters Inc. Board Member. You can read more about her on our “Team” page. Photo by Sarah Morreim

Who am I? Where do I belong?

My search for identity leads to racial and ethnic shock waves

March 2024

BY JEN SANTORO ROTTY (as told to Kim Whiting)

Growing up a White (as far as I knew) girl, in a predominantly White suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota I had the luxury—as so many in the White majority do—of not having to give much thought to ethnicity.

Not having to factor in the complexities of race into my identity allowed me to focus on who I was as a person, as a human; I’d describe myself back then as fun-loving, outgoing, and highly creative, among other attributes. (I still do!) I was someone who loved people, school, and to laugh.

Yet as I got older, issues surrounding ethnicity came increasingly to the forefront. Because I was an adopted child, already unsure of exactly where and who I came from, questions like “Who am I, really?” and “Where do I truly belong?” started becoming central themes in my life.

In adulthood, I set out to find out the truth. At one point, I thought I had the answers, only to learn—in middle age—that I was wrong. Very wrong.

Omitting race from the equation of my identity during my formative years left me completely unprepared for the (more…)

The Transchick Chronicles

A vaginoplasty at last, stolen laundry, and a desire to be ‘someone’s woman’

March 2024

Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment of “The Transchick Chronicles,” an on-going series of essays written by trans journalist Stephanie Haskins as she documents her transition, and modern transgender life. Scroll to the bottom for links to her previous entries.


It’s 9:45 a.m. on Monday, January 22, 2024.

A very pregnant, quite beautiful young nurse in loose blue scrubs is hovering close.

She holds a bag of strange instruments in her hand. I know what they are, and I’m frightened.

She’s preparing to guide me out of the only existence I’ve ever known and into the next.

But, really, there isn’t much of “me” left.

I was born Stephen Frederick Haskins, but what’s left of that person is now measured only in seconds.

Tick tock. Tick tock.

The clock on the wall in my spacious room at the Kaiser Permanente Hospital at 2425 Geary Street in San Francisco, California, makes almost imperceptible clicks as the second hand sweeps silently from one moment to the next

I fantasize that this nurse will soon be done with her careful preparations, and then, THEN, Stephen—ALL of Stephen—will finally be no more.

I’m prepared for some pain, maybe a lot, and I’m resigned to enduring it so as to arrive on the other side.

And then she begins.

“Breathe deeply,” she says quietly, softly crooning this rather dispassionate, yet melodious good-bye to a person who has lived a relatively long, mostly interesting, pretty successful life.

As a male.

Almost two years ago, most of the last molecules of Stephen were cut and rearranged. It’s now time to bring (more…)


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