Day 28: Boxes
Another day, another coming out party.
But as this particular party could be construed by some as contentious, let me skip the usual personal details and simply say, another longtime friend from the area.
We now join our regularly scheduled post already in progress…
I nonchalantly ask if he’d care to head out to the backyard as I have some news to share. Okay, maybe not exactly nonchalantly, but it’s about as nonchalant as I can get under the circumstances.
We settle into the chairs on my back patio, or more accurately, he sits and I pace across the concrete slab that doubles as my back patio.
I can see the anticipation in his eyes. He’s got a secret girlfriend. He’s getting married. He’s won the lottery.
So I start with the easy part — I’m moving to New York City!
And… “Well that sucks. I’m never gonna get to see you anymore.”
Tap, tap, tap go my fingers against my folded arms. This is not off to an auspicious start.
I then slide into stuttering. Not actual stuttering, but the story of my stuttering.
Second awkward pause as he waits for the other shoe to drop.
Tap, tap, tap.
Deep sigh… and transgendered.
Silence. Deafening silence. I’m not sure awkward pauses are allowed to last this long.
“Are you sure you’re transgendered?”
“Uh… yeah. Been thinking about it since I was eight years old. So… yes.”
“Are you sure it’s not a fetish?”
I know him well enough to understand that he means this in a clinical sense, not as a pejorative. But still…
I clear my throat, “Well, arousal has been part of this over the years, but not anymore. To be honest, I’m trying very hard not to put myself in a box. I’m trying to enjoy this journey of discovery and see where it leads.”
“Well, do you feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body?”
“Uh, not exactly…”
“Then you’re not transgendered.”
Tap, tap, tap. This is not going as I expected.
We continue this game of box for literally the next two hours, moving from fetish to crossdresser to transvestite. He taught a class in gender studies in the 1980s, while I’ve been dealing with gender issues firsthand since the 1970s.
Let me edit the conversation down to some of his more memorable quotes, oddly evoking a majority of the stages of death and dying…
• Denial: “Just because you like to shave your legs or grow your nails long doesn’t mean you’re transgendered.”
• Bargaining: “Why don’t you just wear stylish Italian men’s clothes?”
• Depression: “I’m not going to be happy for you until you figure out your gender dysphoria. Until then, it’s your divorce all over again.”
He skips over Anger and finally moves on to what I can only call his version of Acceptance: “I don’t care what you wear. You’re still my friend.”
But it’s that laser focus on clothes and the unshakeable belief that I’m delusional that finally causes me snap. Since he’s not interested in Anger, I take up the mantle…
“Fine. You want me to talk about my body? Let’s talk about my body. Truth be told, I’ve never liked my body. I’ve never thought of myself as good looking. The only time I’ve ever liked it, been able to look at myself in the mirror is when it starts to look female. When I lose enough weight for my waist to narrow. When my chest can form cleavage. And you know what? Growing breasts doesn’t freak me out, okay? I actually like it. The concept of surgery? Doesn’t scare me. Is that what you want to hear from me?”
From his facial expression, I can tell this is making him uncomfortable.
Good. I think I made my point.
In an odd way, this is all good. I actively defended being transgendered for several hours. I’m not sure I could have done that even three weeks ago. And I feel more certain than ever that I am on the right path. I may not know the destination or what box I’m in, but for now, the journey is pretty awesome.
Now about those clothes from Italy…