Nov. 26, 2005 — -- Often it's the students who undergo changes over the summer. But this fall, at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, a longtime professor of political science arrived with a new identity.
Wally M. Bacon had transformed into W. Meredith Bacon after undergoing 12 hours of sexual feminization surgery.
"I feel as if this huge burden has been lifted off of my shoulders, that instead of darkness I see mostly light. And I'm happy," Bacon said. "Making a transition has empowered me to be a better teacher, to be a better researcher, to be a better spouse."
Meredith Bacon said she knew by age 4 that "something wasn't right." But, she said she still chose to live a traditional life, with a traditional marriage "basically because that was custom."
"That was convention," she said. "And I deeply loved my spouse and we have been happy together."
Four years into the marriage, she told her wife, Lynne, about her gender identity. They decided to stay together and have been married for 36 years. The couple said that they haven't been intimate for nearly 20 years, but they are still affectionate and cuddle.
Despite this recent huge change, Lynne, who remains Meredith's wife legally, said their relationship thrives.
"That's what a lot of people really don't understand," Lynne Bacon said. "They can't imagine why would I want to stay in this relationship. And it's because my happiest times have always been with my spouse.
"I couldn't ask for a better person to spend the rest of my life with," she added. "We have a beautiful home. We have lots of wonderful friends. We have the same kind of interests that we still enjoy. I can't imagine all of that coming to end."
The Nebraska students have been very accepting of the professor's change.
"Her personal choices really weren't any effect on me," said Damian Ullman. "She is a teacher. She's a very capable teacher. She understands her materials. She's good at communicating it. I'm learning a lot in this class. I don't really care what she does in her off-time."
Meredith Bacon's off-time -- and money -- is going to include a lot more surgery.
So far, Meredith Bacon has spent $45,000 on the surgery, which includes facial electrolysis and facial bone rearrangement. In December, she will have a face lift to get rid of the extra skin that is a result of the facial bone rearrangement surgery, which will cost $16,000. She will also have a breast augmentation for $7,000.
In June, Meredith Bacon plans to have gender reassignment surgery, which also is known as genital reconstruction surgery. That will cost another $16,000.
She expects to spend a total of $85,000 on the surgeries, which aren't covered by insurance.