Hot summer nights in the south brought a sweet serenade to my ears. The night would fill with the sweet song from a cricket choir and their backup chorus of toads. The rhythm of the midnight train thumping steady on the tracks gave a smooth beat to it all. Most nights in the summer I would sneak out of my bedroom window and silently make my way out to the shed. There was a ragged old wooden ladder that I made, propped up on the backside of it. The treads on the stairs would creak as I put weight on them so I would move as slowly as I could. By the time I was at the top, my feet would ache from the wood pressing into my arches. The roof was still warm from baking in the sun. It felt soothing as I laid out flat and it heated my back. I would lay there staring at the sky until I saw a shooting star. I would wish and pray that when I woke up I would be a girl. I spent a lot of nights sleeping on the roof of that shed. The same theme would follow me all my life. Any wishing well I could find a coin went in and the same wish would be made. Any custom or fable that allowed for the possibility of my wish coming true was worth a try to me.
“For a lot of people they are completely happy with falling in the non-binary, but for me all I ever wanted to be was female.”
As the years progressed and my body changed, I realized that my belief in fairytales was fading more and more. My voice deepened, I grew to 5’11, my hairline receded and my body turned against me in every possible way it could. Even though I was firmly in my flesh prison, I still screamed on the inside for my miracle. I knew that the likelihood of me ever just looking like a natural born woman was almost impossible. For a lot of people they are completely happy with falling in the non-binary, but for me all I ever wanted to be was female.
Transitioning is a process. No matter how much we wish we could flip a switch and just be who we want to be, the reality is that it takes a lot of work and time. In some ways living two lives simplified things. I would go to work and the guys would accept me as one of their own. I could come home and be a woman and mom. Going out in public as a woman was a different story. I remember pulling up to a drive through window years ago and the cashier getting a huge smile on his face as I handed him my money. I pulled up to the next window and just as it opened I could hear him yelling to everyone “Look it’s a tranny! Dude it’s a tranny!” I drove off without getting my food and went home. After many scenarios played out of the same situation, I knew I had to get my head around not being a man or a woman, but being transgender.
“I started to confront people who were sensationalizing me and stood up for myself.”
Growing up, transgender people were the subjects of episodes of Jerry Springer or punchlines in a Jim Carrey movie. I had never met another transgender person that I was aware of until I was in my thirties. Once I decided to go to a gay bar in Atlanta to just have a drink and relax. When I opened the door and walked in, everyone at the bar stopped and looked at me. After what seemed like forever they started to laugh and yell “Look at the tranny!” I could not find acceptance in any aspect of my life as a transgender woman. Then one day I got a call back from a therapist named Jayson. I did not know it until I went to my first appointment, but he was a transman. Jayson sat there as a professional therapist and he challenged my ideas on being transgender and what it meant. He helped me see that I had every right to live my life the way everyone else gets to live theirs. I started to confront people who were sensationalizing me and stood up for myself. I was able to start seeing that it was ok for someone to want me and be attracted to me.
Today I stood in my office helping a customer. My hair was pulled up into a messy ponytail looking over my glasses a sternly as I could I said “Again will that be all for you?” He looked up from my breast and said “No thanks.” I could see the questions brewing in his mind, but he could tell that I did not owe him and answer. I took his order and got him on his way, it was a perfectly normal day for a normal person.