Now, I’m not one to go ragging on my sisters all the time (shush you, “all” the time is a little extreme you know), so I thought today would be a good time to start looking at some of the really great positives that we get to experience in transition. Almost every one of us who went down this road got to the starting line, looked at what lay ahead, and simultaneously lost today’s breakfast and yesterdays dinner at the same time. Wouldn’t it be nice then if we made it easier on our sisters who still go by ‘mister’ by highlighting some of the really great things they can expect? Normally I tend to churn out a laborious 3 paragraph intro to these, but today I’m just going to get to it.
1. Prognosis – Not Psycho: One of the first great milestones in this long and lonely road is having your therapist look you dead in the eye and say, “well… I don’t think you are psychotic…”. Mine said it exactly this way and made a great show of providing me a letter that spelled it out word for word. Yeah, it also said this person is known as “Michelle” blah blah blah, she probably looks weird to you yadda yadda, is transgender, and definitely not a psychopath or con-artist. Being officially designated as ‘transgender’ in the sort of letter of introduction people carried in 18th century novels is swell, but it’s the absolution of being a raging maniac that makes it special. I’m still planning to frame mine since I’ve long since stopped carrying it.
2. Lonely Leaves You Alone: This one can be a little tricky to be honest. It might be the very first person you come out to, or it might be dead last. Chances are though, you already have a pretty good idea about who is going to be super supportive and who is going to wig out and somehow make it about them. Try and go with the former for your first stab at it, or the second is going to be all the harder. Early coming out, one on one with someone and having them get all excited and happy for you is the best feeling. It’s even more validating than the letter and instills a blossom of hope that maybe you won’t have to move to Norway in the near term.
3. They Love To Watch You Strut: If you are reading this, chances are you are familiar with peering out the front window at twilight to scan the neighborhood for any signs of activity so you can run to your car and attempt to navigate down the street with your head in the passenger seat. This gets old real fast. It comes as a pure delight then to finally stroll to your car leisurely at noon and motor down to the nearest cross street without taking out garbage cans or that cat that keeps shitting in your vegetable garden. The real difference is that you really kind of don’t care anymore providing there is at least a degree of separation between your neighbors and everyone else you know who still doesn’t know. In Buffalo this is nearly impossible, but understanding that it’s no biggie anyway is just a slice of heaven.
4. Permission to Juice: There is a good chance that your therapist sees a great divide between determining you are not psychotic and determining you are ready to start making some changes. Sometimes it’s a really big divide, but understanding who you are finally will make you cross this hell or high water. Mine was under some kind of impression that hormones can be catastrophic and I picked up on this vibe early on and left it alone. Eventually though it’s enough already and time to pony up. Where the first letter feels like, “well, at least I’m not crazy”, this one is pure validation that, “I am who I know I am, and everyone agrees”. Welcome to mood swings, weight gain, tender nipples, crying at movies, and needing 11 trips to get all the groceries in. Bye forever, oh cursed morning wood.
5. Yes, I Would Love the Hanger, Thanks: Let’s be honest here. You have been shopping before, but not without a big old sack of high octane anxiety to go along with it. Oh, it was fun and all picking out new clothes, but trust me, you are never going to miss doing it with a red face. Not to mention fake lists from your “girlfriend”, asking for bullshit gift receipts, never getting quite the right size, outfits the blind wouldn’t wear, and dumping everything in a mad panic behind a Frito’s display because you could swear that woman who just looked your way used to go to your mom’s church or something. Welcome to relaxed outings where your only anxiety is sticker shock at the register, everything fits, and you never bring single shoe brought home you have to wonder how the fuck you are going to walk in anyway.
6. Screw You, Clark Kent!: I’m sure you know the worry of having a sneaking suspicion that your co-workers often wonder why they never see you and femme you in the same place at the same time. Trust me, they don’t, but you can’t help wondering. Best cure in the world for that is to leave the glasses and suit in the phone booth you changed out of them in and never looking back. Just imagine the joy of noticing that is your boss in line in front of you at Mighty Taco, and they only reason you hope he doesn’t notice you is because you promised to have that thing or whatever done last Tuesday and just now remembered. A double life is a half life sister, and they day you decide to just be you and no one else is just like warm apple pie.
7. Goodwill Humping: Remember that cute little trend back in the 80’s when women wore neckties and suspenders like a 40’s era newsman? Yeah, me too, and I’m going to be so pissed if that comes back for some reason. One of the greatest joys that goes hand in hand with #6 here is voiding your abode of every stitch of clothing that may have been purchased at Men’s Wearhouse. No more ties, wingtips, pit stained undershirts, dress pants with real no-shit pockets, and anything that buttons on the wrong side. For the first time ever, there is no worry about anyone going through your stuff and wondering what you are supposed to be anyway. The garbage bags are full up, and it’s time to take a sweet ride to the donation center.
8. Buying Tequila: You look freaking amazing tonight and never once got the freaky nuts hairy eyeball. Well, that is until your bottle of Chilean Sea Bass infused vodka hits the scanner and the inevitable request for ID comes. Oh, the humanity. Your weak joke about having a bad hair day that day fails to amuse the cashier, who politely asks you if you would like paper or plastic for that, Mr Schnitzel. Yeah, going through the bureaucratic nightmare of swapping out your birth name and gender is a huge hassle, but the day your new license comes is nothing short of amazing. Almost as amazing as the feeling of smug satisfaction you feel every time you present it to suspicious lady at the checkout and watch her smarmy little grin just fade away.
9. There Can Be Only None: Terrifying, exhilarating, dreadful, onerous, and then never ending. How the hell did you get to know so many fricking people over your lifetime anyway? Family, friends, co-workers, casual acquaintances, old school chums, military buddies, and of course the 900 people you never met before who ended up as your Facebook friends. Given enough time, however, even someone emptying Lake Erie with a thimble will get to that last drop. Going to bed and knowing there isn’t a single person out there who you ever said boo to who doesn’t know brings with it a deep and dreamless sleep. Well, until you suddenly realize that those cousins on your dad’s side you never ever see don’t know yet, and they are probably going to show up to the next funeral. Hold on a sec, I’ve got to paw through my old Rolodex and draft yet another damn letter…
10. Speaking of Letters: It’s been at least a year since you maintained even a semblance of a male identity, and by now you are hoping that those around you finally forgot what you ever looked like with a five o’clock shadow and George Costanza haircut. You wish anyway, if not for the ten zillion photographs still floating around that seem to be everywhere. It’s been a long time coming since you were declared sane-ish and given permission to put some chemical ice on the dried up old boys. Finally, finally, you managed to clear every arduous wicket and qualify for the big golden ticket. So to speak anyway; it would be a cold day in hell before I traded my GRS letter for some tour of an obscenely dangerous candy factory. Whether you can afford it, or are medically qualified, there is nothing like knowing that you have done everything necessary to secure permission to proceed to the final frontier. Just a couple more months, and I’ll tell you what it’s like. Trust me, it’s going to be the best one yet.