COMING TO GRIPS
The thought constantly bounced in the back of her mind: As early as 14, Jeorgia Robison can recall thinking about suicide. But until 2010, a year after she was unwillingly outed to her family as transgender, Robison hadn’t seriously considered it.
That’s when she moved into the planning stages—how and when she would take her life. Now Robison, who sought therapy and fully transitioned to a female in November 2015, considers herself lucky to be alive.
“I call it climbing on a cliff and looking into the abyss,” Robison says. “I hit the panic button.”
Robison grew up in a military family in the 1960s and ’70s; when she was 16, her family settled in Cedar Rapids. The one constant in her youth was the feeling of being different. She was never quite comfortable around her peers. She poured all her efforts into being a man, but now admits that was just a filter.
Robison says she carried her family’s military mindset, which stressed conformity. At 21, she married a woman. She graduated with distinction from the University of Iowa College of Law and started a job in 1986 at a Marion law firm, where she still works today. She had three children with her wife.
“I was just jumping through all of the hoops,” she says.
When she was 17, Robison told her future wife about her gender identity, despite not fully understanding it herself. She didn’t tell another person until confiding in a therapist when she was 27. It wasn’t until the advent of the internet in the mid-1990s that Robison realized there was a community of people like her.
“You really are petrified of your own self, and you live in denial for so long,” Robison says. “But then you realize you’re not the only one. Maybe I’m not just so far out and weird.”
After her darkest days in 2009 and 2010, Robison came to grips with her identity. She publicly came out in 2010, and lived as a man in her profession but as a woman privately. In late 2014, Robison started taking transition hormones, which helped ease her darkest thoughts. She fully transitioned in 2015 to overwhelming support.
Because of her own experience, Robison is passionate about helping other transgender individuals find their own path, both legally and personally.
“Without Jeorgia, I do not know where I would be today,” says Aimee Wichtendahl, a Hiawatha City Council member and Iowa’s first openly trans lawmaker. “During the early days of my transition she was there with a friendly ear and strong support. … Most of all, she kept a light on my passion for public service and to never stop trying to change the world for the better.”
Legacy of Service:
Member of the One Iowa Action board of directors.
One of Iowa’s first transgender attorneys and a strong role model.
Active in the local transgender community via PFLAG-Cedar Rapids, and occasionally contributes to Transformations Iowa, a support group for transgender and nonbinary people.
Guitarist for the blues band Blue Scratch, which competed in the 2017 Iowa Blues Challenge.
Involved with Marion Christian Church.