They had a son in 1985, and a daughter in 1988. Bershel opened a general medical practice in Newton, Boston, and Alison became his office manager.
Not until 2004 did Bershel tell Alison that he felt that he was a woman, Deborah. Bershel started visiting a gender therapist who suggested that it be Deborah who attended the sessions. Bershel read and identified with She’s Not There by Jennifer Finney Boylan. Alison went with Deborah as female for a cross-dressers' weekend on Rhode Island.
Deborah started laser hair-removal and voice training. In 2006 she had facial surgery, sent letters to the patients, and set up a website. Most of the patients stayed, and the synagogue was accepting. Her parents were accepting, but Alison, after living with Deborah for a few months asked Deborah to move out. Their daughter stopped speaking to Deborah.
Deborah met and formed a new life partnership with Berni, lesbian and a psychiatric social worker. Deborah had genital surgery with Dr Pierre Brassard in Montréal in 2007, and Berni accompanied her. At that time she had three trans patients. That number later grew to about 50. Dr Bershel attended the WPATH meeting in Oslo in 2009, had testified at the Massachusetts State House re discrimination suffered by transsexuals, and in 2010 gave a presentation at the First Event Transgender Conference.
- Neil Swidey. “A Family Doctor's Journey From Man to Woman: And what it means for his family of patients”. Boston Globe. Aug 12, 2007. www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2007/08/12/family_doctors_journey_full_story. www.boston.com/news/globe/magazine/articles/2007/08/19/freeing_up_deborah.
- Margaret Wente. "The explosive rethinking of sex reassignment". The Globe and Mail, Aug 25 2007. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/the-explosive-rethinking-of-sex-reassignment/article725057.
- Neil Swidley. "After a gender change, no regrets". Boston Globe, February 28, 2010. http://www.boston.com/bostonglobe/magazine/articles/2010/02/28/after_a_gender_change_dr_deb_has_no_regrets.
Margaret Wente used Deborah’s story to align herself with the Blanchardian-dichotomy school.