I have returned from a few days in south central Pennsylvania, spending the Thanksgiving holiday with a wonderfully supportive friend who I have known since 6th grade.
So it is time that I got back to posting. But before I get into meatier topics, I want to give an update on what has been happening in my life over the past two weeks. In some ways, it shows in a nutshell what I mean about living on the Planet Mercury. And there were some things happening that were just plain interesting, at least to me.
So let’s start with Monday, November 18. That evening, I participated in the wrap-up session of the Women’s Bible Study I have been attending at the church I have attended for slightly more than a year. I also took part in one during the beginning of the year from February through May, followed by a fellowship dinner at a local restaurant.
Both times, I had a wonderful experience. Almost all of these women are seasoned Christians, well-versed in the Bible. The women who gave the lessons in the course material we used (workbook and videos) are Christian women leaders with a national reputation.
The first time, one of the women (out of about ten) knew about my male past. This time, none of them did. Both times, I was completely accepted as the woman I am and present myself to be. And one of the lessons a few weeks ago talked about the need for Christians to follow their “spiritual gut”, including when one gets a red flag about someone else. Either none of the women learned the lesson or no one came up with a red flag connected to me. I prefer to believe it is the latter. During a fellowship lunch after worship today, I sat at the same table with three of the women who were part of the Bible study. I was just another woman at the table.
On Tuesday morning, I had breakfast with one of my clients. I have known her for years and I consider her a friend as well as a client. She has been consistently strong in her support for me, from her immediate positive response to my coming out letter to my clients to her following me in this blog. She is one of about a half dozen female clients who are now reaching out to me in friendship, wanting to get together with me in person or on the phone with little or none of the conversation business related. Of course, all of these women are well acquainted with my past.
That evening, I attending a nearby women’s business networking meeting, having the opportunity to present information about my business to a group of fellow professional women. There was also food, plenty of time to mingle … and oh yes, makeup tips (this time focusing on lips). The sponsor for the meeting was the upline for my Mary Kay consultant. None of these women knew about my past, which is especially interesting since the two Mary Kay consultants have worked on my face, up close and personal.
Wednesday was the official day of TDOR, even if most of the memorials were held on the weekend before or after. My local support group had a showing of Trans the Movie, with the producer, Mark Schoen providing commentary before and after the viewing, as well as a Q&A period afterward. The majority of those in attendance either attends one of my support groups or have seen me at other gender related public events.
I had expected Thursday to be a non-event. It was a day for running errands, the most important of which was to get my car inspected. I had decided to go to Sears for the car inspection, only to find out they don’t provide that service. Sears happens to be a short distance from the local dealer for my car. Knowing I was going out of town for most of Thanksgiving week, I needed to get this task done ASAP, even if this was the most expensive option.
I found out that they would be able to take me that day, but it would take a few hours before they would get to my car. No problem. I could go to a diner just up the road, which the gladly drove me to. But first, I needed to link my work order for the day to my preferred customer account, which was still in my old name. When I took the (male) customer service rep aside to tell him I needed to change the name on the account, he assured me that was easy for them to do. He probably thought I was changing the name because my marital status had changed.
Even after I started to provide the complete information, I don’t think he was able to completely put things together, at least not at first. He had taken the VIN of my car, so he knew what account to link it to. He simply could not connect the person before him to the old name. So at one point he said, “So you want to change the name from [my male name] to Lois Simmons?” In retrospect, I probably only imagined he said it too loud. It certainly didn’t produce one of those EF Hutton moments when everyone turned around to listen.
Lunch at the diner went without incident, other than too much food and another vow to get back to the gym. I got back to the dealership, signaled the CSR that I had returned and headed into the customer lounge. That’s when things got really interesting.
A woman was sitting at a table when I came into the lounge. After about 15 minutes, they called her name and she left. Five minutes after that two Hasidic men stepped into the room, barely entering through the doorway. They looked directly at me, looked around the room and decided to leave. Five minutes later they did the exact same thing.
(There is a fairly large Hasidic community in the area where I live. For those unfamiliar with the term, the Hasidim are the ultra-Orthodox of Judaism. The adult men do not cut the hair at their temples, wear mostly black except for their white shirts, and always have a hat of some kind. The women usually wear a wig or some other head covering. The men and women walk separated from each other. On their buses, there is a partition down the aisle to keep them apart.)
Another five minutes or so pass by, and here they are again: barely inside the doorway. Once again they look at me and look around the room. I am beginning to find it difficult to keep from laughing out loud for I am certainly chuckling to myself. Two years earlier, I would not be causing them this problem. Yes, I am a Gentile, but back then, they would have seen me as a male. Of course, I was not seriously thinking of doing this, but I was wondering what their reaction would have been if I told them don’t worry about coming into the same room because I was born male.
Anyway, this time they finally come inside the lounge. I don’t know if they fulfilled some rabbinical law that said on the third attempt it would be okay. Or perhaps, because there was a slight wall (about 1 foot in length on each side) that provided the barest of dividers within the lounge, they may have decided that as long as we were on separate sides of that divider, we weren’t really in the same place. Or maybe they called their rabbi for a ruling and were given permission?
So I watch them walk through my area into the other area of the lounge. The younger man sits first. The older man sits down … right on the same chair vacated by the woman who was there when I came in!
Maybe I should take an intensive course in Texas hold ’em, find someone to stake me and head back to Vegas. Because it sure looks like I can keep a straight face.
Friday evening is when I volunteer at my church to help with some extra work that takes place during the Christmas holidays. Besides me, there are both men and women in the group doing the work. I know all of them from other activities in the church, but none of them know of my past. Again, there are no problems: no question in any minds that I am not who I say that I am.
Saturday takes me back into the TG community. It is the TDOR service sponsored by another support group I occasionally attend. In my previous post, “TDOR Update”, I already shared how a supportive Christian friend attended with me. This is the only time during the past two weeks that the two sides of my world met together.
This past week was pretty much a vacation for me. This is the second time I have visited my friend, Margaret. She is the only person from my past who told me that she suspected something going way back. I am not surprised. She is the only person I have told who I knew from a time when I was still building the wall to keep people from knowing my deep, dark secret. She says that she always sensed a conflict in me, but also that it was the way I moved my hands when I was helping her with homework (usually math). She says that it wasn’t effeminate, just very delicate.
While Margaret is very liberal, she lives in a part of the Bible belt. In addition to mainstream Christian churches and a nearby Christian college, there were many Amish and Mennonite vendors in the market where we completed shopping for our Thanksgiving feast. Once again, I came and went without incident. And Margaret has been one of the best in terms of consistently remembering to use my new name and preferred pronouns.
Actually, this trip was relatively easy compared to the one in May when I was still less confident in myself. My first night there, we were both exhausted from our respective battle with rush hour traffic. So Margaret suggests we go to a nearby “family restaurant” instead of dealing with making dinner.
It turns out to be a veritable redneck bar and grill. NASCAR is on the video screen and the music is a mix of classic country, modern country and some rock and roll with a country influence (e.g., the Allman Brothers). I can easily imagine some of the less bold TG sisters I know from my support groups taking one step inside and turning around to leave.
Margaret tells me to relax, that I look fine. When I inquire about having ice tea, the waitress, hearing my New York accent, apologizes that they only have sweet tea. I know I am in when I reply truthfully, “Is there any other kind?”
Coming back to this visit, on my last evening there, we go to visit a husband and wife couple who are good friends of Margaret. She and the wife sing together in a local community vocal group.
The four of us had also gotten together in May. At that time, Margaret had only told the wife about me. Now the husband knew, too. But things went just as well as on the first visit.
The irony is that this couple is more on the conservative side of the political spectrum. Under other circumstances, there would be no question that I would get along better with them on most issues. However, this is not your run of the mill situation. Even so, Margaret tells me that they think I am “just great.”
As far as I know, I am the first transgender person they have gotten to know personally. A year ago, if you had asked them what they thought of transgender people, I cannot tell you what their response would have been. Because the husband was not told right away, I have to assume it would have been significantly less favorable than “great”.
It appears that this is a significant part of my new purpose in life: to be an ambassador for the transgender community and for the Christian community. It is a purpose that brings me joy, especially when there is success.
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation; To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him. – 2nd Corinthians 5:17-21