Okay, let me pause right here, for a second. In the last year*, because it’s been just about a year since I began transitioning, I …
I still can’t believe I got to do this!
… mutually exited a multi-year relationship and managed actually to become decently good friends (I never pull that off!). Told the first person in my life that I was transgender, ever. Learned how to do makeup. Found clothes that suited me. Finally. Got involved in the LGBTQIA+ community. Came out to a few hundred people. With overwhelming graciousness, love, and support in nearly all cases, amazingly. Had the best birthday party, ever. With three birthday cakes. Doubled the size of my autism program and brought it to fiscal sustainability for the first time, ever, now for six months running. Nabbed two new grant funding mechanisms to do even more for our kids. Sold two blog posts, first time I’ve ever sold my writing. Gave my first plenary presentation. Went on hormone therapy. At a Laverne Cox lecture. Joined my first local board. Joined my second local board. Turned down offers number three and four. Went to my first transgender conference. Presented at my second transgender conference, and made plans to partner with another professional also going through transition this year, to present at my third. Finished coming out and went public. Learned how to do power lunches. And power happy hours. Changed my name. Traveled by air as a woman for the first time. Traveled by rail as a woman for the first time. No, I didn’t travel by sea as a woman for the first time, because, seriously, does it sound like I can fit that in my schedule? Got my first television appearance as a woman. Went to a national board meeting as a woman for the first time. Realized there’s a whole lot of little, tiny, spaces and crevasses throughout the world, in which I and people like me wil probably spend the rest of our lives in some variant of “you’re the first transgender person who ever …” Spoke at a women’s rights rally. Went to my first Pride. Got to model for the first time. Wrote the most ambitious restructuring plan I’ve ever written (you’ll see, soon). Started planning my first gala, ever. Oh, and, I think you know this already, met THE ONE. And got her to quit smoking. And start running. And re-commit to advocacy. And listen to Taylor Swift (okay, mostly just humor me when I do). And, concerningly, begin to develop an eerie attraction to the Pumpkin Spice Latte (I’d take this one back if I could).
I can’t believe this came along so quickly, either.
It’s been a weird year.
A few months after I came onboard to my autism program, three years ago (oh, let me add to that list, stayed in one place both work-wise and housing-wise longer than I ever have in my life, that happened this year, too), I realized what could be done, for little kids with autism, and for teens with autism, and for the whole AutismFamily, and I began to get this overwhelming feeling, like the thirty-ish years** left in my career just wouldn’t be enough. I never stopped feeling that about autism. Although I came to understand my gameplan, and I’m a bit silent because I’m just out there doing what needs to be done. But now I feel that way about the LGBTQIA+ community, too. About this historic opportunity to venture beyond the queer narrative that we’re oppressed and don’t have rights, to the queer narrative about how we become a force for positive, society-wide change, that leverages our newfound acceptance and helps all people, while continuing to shift the dialog in a way that helps LGBTQIA+ people and other people who remain marginalized. About what it’s like when our lives are wonderful, and our loves are wonderful, and we get to start showing the world that our gifts are pretty wonderful, too. So now I’m on two missions that I won’t have enough time to finish. God help me, if I find a third one.
Looking for Normal was the name of that fateful play I went to more than a year ago, which made me think I could start coming out. And I’ve found… what precisely? What if this is normal? What if it isn’t going to be any less crazy than this, ever? Did I become more productive or is this some kind of crazy manic episode that never ends (status manicus?)? And do I define normal by this craziness that is that stream of consciousness accounting of a year that I vomited on you above? Or by the fact that, a scant two months after going full time, I assume that people will treat me nicely, gender me correctly, not make a fuss over the big M on my driver’s license still, take me mostly seriously, except when they’re mansplaining, and not listening to a word I say? That I still stop and wonder that my life has changed so, that I am finally free, and I breath in the sweet air of freedom every day, and know that it is good, every day, and celebrate and give thanks, every day, but it no longer surprises me to get up and … be me? That I am already rapidly forgetting the few scant things I used to know about how to pretend to be a man (Teri is pretty sure I couldn’t even vaguely pull it off at this point.) Because, then, for sure, I am rapidly returning to normal. And little milestones, I barely notice them, like trying on clothes that match my identity, in the store, in the changing room, for the first time, and it wasn’t even a thing. I didn’t even realize the milestone until after the fact, and I’m sure the saleswoman didn’t even realize the milestone at all – she was just totally right about the size 10, which makes me really angry, because size 10, but the pants are total fetch, and she swears everyone else has to size up, too, and I can live with it***. So, erm, that’s normal. If you’re a parody of yourself, which I totally am. And fine with it. Some people say**** that there’s another wave of transitioning that hits, like six months into full time, because you stop being a novelty, and I guess, although it seems like everyone in my life has gotten mostly over the whole thing, just as fast as I have, or else they’re just way better at faking it than I am, because, seriously, I am the worst liar, ever.
I guess we’ll all have to wait and see. See if my second / fortieth birthday stacks up to my first. See what I can do with my first year as a woman from the start, all the time. See where we can take the AutismFamily if we don’t have to worry about shutting the doors anymore. And see where LGBTQIA+ people can take the world if we don’t have to worry about our safety anymore. I think I’m up for it.
* Yes, I’m still the footnote princess, and yes, I realize I’m veering dangerously close to the same post I made at the end of Spring. Don’t hate. I’m saying something different!
** Thirty could happen. If they raise the retirement age. Which they probably will. Ahem.
*** If it should turn out for some reason that skinny leg Ralph Lauren corduroys in navy blue that look cute with my new boots do not, in fact, size up, rest assured that this is something I do not, under any circumstances, want to know about, particularly in the comments to this post.
**** The reality is people say all kinds of things, and it’s really hard to differentiate the stuff that just isn’t the same for everybody – don’t get me started on how much estrogen was not like going on an emotional roller coaster – from the stuff where people just like to pretend they know everything, from the, no, you should actually listen to this and not be an idiot stuff.