Being transgender in Oxford: Danica McOmber

Posted on Mar 30 2017 - 8:02am by Lyndy Berryhill

DMDanica McOmber, 32, realized she was transgender when she was 11 years old. Throughout her teenage years, she would explore a new world of girls’ clothes and makeup. She kept it from her parents, her brother and her friends. She was not ready to tell them.

It was not until she moved to Oxford that she found a home where she could transition.

Known as “the singing guy,” Danica went to class, sat in the Grove and hung out in Oxford as a man. She developed a reputation for belting out Stevie Wonder and The Temptations.

Danica said she never expected to become a local social media star, but it gave her more confidence in herself.

“I am not the ‘dip my toe into the water’ type person. I am ‘dive into the water head-first’ person,” Danica said. “I would say I broke more norms than stereotypes (before I transitioned).”

She became a staple of the Ole Miss’ Snapchat story. She had people tell her she inspired them to be themselves. It gave her courage, then she realized she could help others by being herself.

After 20 years of keeping her identity secret among close friends and family, she realized it was not just about her.

“It’s not just about my happiness. It’s how I make other people feel,” Danica said. “I could be happy with who I am, but I know a lot of people have a harder time trying to be themselves and to be happy with who they are, because they fear what others think.”

In June, Danica announced she was transgender on Facebook. In October, she began the transitioning process. Danica began growing her hair longer and taking hormone replacement therapy. She went from 350 Facebook friends to more than 3,000.

“I’m still learning to be a woman,” Danica said.

Danica’s brown hair has changed to blond. Her nails are painted, and she wears lipstick and mascara.

Her sportive, yet feminine, clothing falls around her newfound curves. She began losing her masculine muscle mass and developed larger breasts several months into the therapy.

She discovered she loves wearing heels, even though they make her close to 6 feet 6 inches tall.

“I am more of a material girl than my wife,” Danica said, laughing.

Danica’s wife, Ladene, moved to Mississippi with her then-husband. She met Danica while in community college. Shortly after Ladene and her husband separated, she and Danica met at a Mexican restaurant for their first date.

Even before Danica transitioned, she told Ladene she was transgender. Danica breathed a sigh of relief when Ladene was completely accepting. They have been married since August but have been together for more than two years.

Ladene grows tired of people asking how she could still be happy with her spouse.

“Occasionally I get offended,” she said. “On more than one occasion, someone has implied that because of Danica’s transitioning that I would be clearly unhappy just because of that.”

Ladene said she finds it sexist that people assume only a “real man” would be able to make her happy.

“I was with a guy who felt he needed to prove his manliness in every way possible,” Ladene said. “At this point in my life, I am kind of over that.”

Danica and Ladene, despite having normal challenges in addition to dealing with stereotypes, have a strong marital bond.

“I would much rather be with somebody who is completely and totally comfortable in themselves and in their own skin, and Danica is that,” Ladene said.

Another challenge with transitioning has been how people view her relationship with her stepson, Tobi.

Tobi calls Danica “Mom” and Ladene “Mommy.”  To them, it was more important to have two parents who work with each other to raise the child.

“He has taken very well to it,” Ladene said. “He doesn’t seem to think it is weird at all.”

Danica works on her desktop computer at home. Ladene works late at her job some weeknights. But they both sit on their futon and talk after a long day.

Ladene said every now and then she does worry Tobi lacks a strong male influence in his life.

“We’re trying the best that we can,” Ladene said. “I think that’s what you should do as a parent, and that’s all you really can do.”