Michael Berke

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Michael Berke in 2004

Michael Berke (1964–2018) lived as a transgender woman and later reidentified as a man.

Berke was raised in Cincinnati, Ohio. He later stated that, although he could not clearly remember his childhood, he believed that he had been diagnosed with a neurological disorder.[1] He recalled struggling in school, being bullied, and acting out as a teenage vandal.[1] As a young man, he worked in San Francisco as a roadie for the Sea Hags, a sleaze metal band. According to Berke, he experimented with drugs and became addicted to heroin and crystal meth.[1] After a stint in a street gang, he joined Narcotics Anonymous and returned to working as a roadie, first for the New Kind, a pop group, then for a variety of popular 90s-era musicians.[1] He moved to Miami in 1996, and in 1997 began receiving care from a clinical psychologist. According to Berke, he was eventually diagnosed with both borderline personality disorder and gender identity disorder.[1]

In 2003, Berke decided to start living as a woman. His psychologist agreed to authorise Berke's medical transition without consulting a gender specialist. Berke began taking hormones immediately and received facial surgery within three months, followed by additional treatments such as breast implants and electrolysis.[1] He took the name "Michelle", and lived as a woman for a year and a half.[1]

Although Berke was initially satisfied with his gender transition, he continued to experience personal and mental health issues.[1] He joined Calvary Chapel, an evangelical protestant megachurch in Fort Lauderdale. The pastor and parishioners welcomed him as a transgender person and invited him to the women's bible study group.[2] After becoming a born-again Christian, Berke decided to detransition and return to living as a man.[1] His church agreed to pay for surgery to remove his breast implants, since he was already deeply in debt from his earlier treatments.[1][2] Berke left the church several months later, and said in 2007 that he thought they had pushed him to detransition too quickly and that he felt regret.[2] (The pastor responded that Berke himself had initially suggested it.[2]) Berke appeared in MSNBC's 2008 documentary Born in the Wrong Body: A Change of Heart.[3] He resided in Leadville, Colorado, until his death by suicide in February 2018.[4][5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 1.9 Harrell, Ashley (11 October 2007). "Tranny Regret". Broward-Palm Beach New Times.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Kennedy, Kelli (26 November 2007). "A gender journey—man to woman to man—reaches unhappy ending at a church". AP Worldstream. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  3. Born in the Wrong Body: A Change of Heart. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  4. Woolsworth, Rachel (21 February 2018). "Details of suicide are revealed". The Herald Democrat. Retrieved 25 April 2019.
  5. Livingston-Garrett, Annie (21 February 2018). "Michael Berke was a friend". The Herald Democrat. Retrieved 25 April 2019.

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