Oct 24, 2019
by Robert Feuer
Steve Froberg grew up in East Petaluma, where he delivered newspapers as a fourth-grader on his bicycle. He traversed bike tracks in fields and swam in creeks, many of which are gone now. His dad was a law enforcement/military man for 45 years. Steve grew up with three older sisters, and had several girlfriends over those years.
Though this may sound like the American Dream, for Steve it wasn’t. He speaks of his “deep denial” about his desires to be a woman. “This has been a long struggle,” he says in our recent interview. “I knew from a very early age, since elementary school.” Steve lived with this dark secret while expanding his realm to include playing bass with garage bands and musicians like Eric Lindell, Levi Lloyd, and Spencer Burrows. He spent a long time as bassist for the award-winning band Frobeck, eight years with Volker Strifler’s band, and two with Charlie Musselwhite.
But inwardly he faced darkness, living a “doomsday scenario,” leading to two suicide attempts, the last occurrence being four years ago. At that point, he says, “I made the decision I was either going to end it or embrace this.”
Steve officially came out as a female two years ago, then legally changed his name to Emily Rose Froberg six months later. Emily is very open in talking about her situation. It felt “very hard, awkward,” she says. Her changes created friction within the family and with lifelong male friends. A girlfriend at the time became very angry. Emily lost her job of five years with a church.
Her parents, though hesitant at first, now support her fully as “a transgender woman.” Emily avoids being stereotyped, continuing to enjoy long-time activities like backpacking and working on vehicles. At the same she says, “I try to be as feminine as possible. Everything I wear is women’s clothes.” Though her attraction now is more to men, “I could be with anyone if it’s a good person.”
“Not having male levels of testosterone has been a lifesaver. That male aggression is all gone.” She feels more accepting and sensitive, more in tune with her emotions. “I’m a much happier, positive person. The future is much brighter.”
Emily has had hormone treatments and several gender-related surgeries (“Surgery is always scary. It sucks”). Still facing several more surgeries, including on her voice, and reassignment surgery (she calls it “bottom surgery”) she explains, “I want to match on the outside what I’ve always felt on the inside.”
Emily remains a “full-time musician,” as busy as ever, and has expanded her professional career to include guitar. She continues to play regularly with the bands Gentlemen Soldiers and Third Rail and has many side gigs. Musical friends were more accepting than old friends. “I’ve earned my place as a musician, so that was okay.”
Most of the personal darkness has lifted. “I feel better and more relaxed not hiding. There’s no longer that internal struggle.”
Emily will be playing with Eric Lindell at the Forestville Club New Year’s Eve.
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