“Hey you!” she says as she walks by with a pizza in her hands. “I haven’t seen you forever.”
I flash her a smile and give her a “Heeeeeeey” playing it super cool. It’s the one thing I have going for me. I usually come across as cool.
I’m instantly uncomfortable though. I start racing through the awkward moments that might be before me. This used to be one of my regular places. Back when I was a woman, married to a man, with two kids. Back when I was a woman, married to a man, with two kids and pregnant with my third. Back when I was a woman, married to a man with two kids, a baby, and pregnant with my 4th. I used to come here. I used to come here a lot. We were the fun, charismatic, big family, who went to this great pizza place and made friends with the owners and management.
Now I’m a man, not married to a man, married to a woman, but I wasn’t even with that woman, I was with a friend, who is also a woman, but not my wife– see why this is tricky?
The explaining is hard.
Should I explain? Maybe I should. Because pretty soon I’ll need to use the men’s restroom, since to everyone else here, I am a man. No one would think I’m a woman. I haven’t been gendered as a woman in months.
But the manager has known me as Nikki for the past 5 years. Does she recognize that I’m a man now and is just so chill about it that she’s not mentioning it in solidarity? Is she curious? Do I secretly look like a woman and I didn’t know it?? Surely, as we’re making small talk, she notices my voice is not that of a woman any more. Doesn’t she see my broad shoulders? I mean, guys, I’ve got some shoulders these days. Take notice.
I guess not.
Or maybe she does.
It’s complicated, I think.
What do I say? Hey so FYI I’m a man now, take note, I’m going to pee in the guys bathroom. Just FYI.
This is the hardest part for me. Deciding if and what to explain to distant acquaintances. Face-to-face is not how I prefer to tell anyone about my gender identity. Not because I’m ashamed or embarrassed. I have some really awesome advantages as a guy who used to be a woman. I understand the world, and people, differently (and frankly more fully) than others. BUT having to witness their shock, and then their embarrassment for showing shock, and their scurrying for words– this is my least favourite thing. I want to give people every opportunity to reply as their best selves and being put on the spot often doesn’t allow for that.
It’s why I have told most of my people, even my closest people, via text or through the power of the internet. It’s why I write this blog. Conflict and feelings? Not my jam, folks. The universe knows this so it made me trans just to fuck with me. HA HA! Way to go universe. FUCK YOU!
So no, I didn’t explain to the fantastic woman at the pizza place that I’m a dude now. When the guy at the liquor store makes a weird comment about my ID saying female I just sort of smile and nod. When the nurse at the walk-in clinic who has seen me pregnant notices that my kid now calls me Dad, I just sort of look past her instead of into her confused face. Maybe one day I’ll figure out a better way. Or maybe not.
The struggle is real.
PHOTO CREDIT: gabriel gurrola