Ups and Downs @ Out & Equal

I had the unexpected opportunity to attend this year’s Out & Equal Workplace Summit: a gathering of more than 6,200 ERG members, HR & D&I professionals, LQBTQ+ people and allies, from across 42 countries, “to share strategies and best practices to create workplaces which are inclusive of all sexual orientations, gender identities, and gender expressions.”

It is hard to quantify the (overwhelmingly positive) impact the entire event had on me. It was possibly the first time in my life where I really felt totally comfortable in a ‘public-ish’ setting. I walked around with my head up, proud of who I am, as opposed to simply looking to get from point A to B without attracting too much undo attention. Because I do not have the privilage of navigating public spaces unnoticed, I view my day to day life as a public act of defiance against a society that would rather I not exist. To be someplace where I was openly welcomed was very much a new feeling for me. So much of my life has been about acknowledgement and tolerance: if I can have those, I can make things work well enough. Acceptance is harder, more elusive – because tolerance can be easily mistaken for acceptance, especially in a corporate setting, where the rules of engagement are different than they are ‘out on the street’. I felt accepted – it was difficult to have to leave that space and return to ‘the real world’.

All the workshops I attended were excellent, and I have good information and ideas to bring back to both our Pride group and our diversity office. Two of those workshops were round-table discussions that I attended specifically for me. The first was an open round-table on non-binary identities, and as I identify as non-binary, this was especially exciting. A room that should have comfortably accomidated maybe thirty people had well over fifty, with people sitting on the floor and standing along the walls. It was encouraging to see so many people there, both enbies and allies. After a few common misconceptions about us were raised – that non-binary people are almost all AFAB (assigned female at birth), young, masculine leaning, and that non-binary is some new fad started on tumblr – I felt compelled to offer counterpoint. I stood up and shared that I am a 55 year old, AMAB (assigned male at birth,) trans-feminine enby, and how twenty years ago, I stared an online group for non-binary people, and even created a term for us, as we didn’t have one. People in the room had no idea that this was a discussion we were having decades ago. I later ran into several people who were at round-table, who stopped me, and thanked me, and told that I created some buzz (in a good way.) It is important that younger people know that we have a history, and they can use that when others want to (try to) invalidate their identity.

The second round-table was a closed session of just trans-identified people. There were maybe upwards of 20 trans women, 4 trans men, and me. It was a more intimate and personal discussion then the 50+ who showed up for the non-binary round-table. Being there stirred a lot of feelings I wasn’t expecting. One was a sense of regret at taking so long to figure myself out. Many of the trans women there (and at the conference as a whole) were young(er) compared to me, and the ones my age had transitioned many years before. It underscored for me this sense of lost opportunity which I keep pushed down below the surface – and it has been a long time since I have felt so profoundly aware of that.

The other feeling(s) are a bit more complicated. I know who I am and that I am trans, but in that room, I was acutely aware of how different I was from the others there. Most were trans women, who all have a common set of shared experiences – a set of experiences very different from mine. It brought back all the feelings from the past when I was workng through all of this – where other trans women made it a point to tell me how I was not really trans, or not ‘trans enough’ – how ‘people like me’ were ruining things for them, because we dared to state that we did not have a ‘mental disorder’. (Twenty years ago, if you were not surgery tracked, the trans ‘community’ was not a welcoming space.) It’s difficult to not internalize some of that over time.

The name for this amalgam of feelings is Imposter Syndrome, and I only ever experience this overwhelming self-doubt in a group of my ‘peers’, so thankfully it’s not often. This may be why I have never made an effort to seek out many other trans people – it’s just been easier to not open myself up to that. I shared this with the group, which wasn’t easy, but what’s the point of a roundtable if you don’t share. 🙂 It was reassuring – and so validating – when one of the women there responded that we are all a part of the same family, regardless of our differences.

So, a bit of a roller coaster: ups and down – definitely more ups than downs – and lot of feelings to process and sort through. 🙂

Transgender Visibility: How do people see me?

n.b.: As Transgender Day of Visibility 2019 was Sunday, March 31, I thought I would close out the little ‘social experiment’ I’ve conducted for twenty years.  My previous post on this is here: Riding the Long Island Railroad.

I often wonder how people are gendering me.  Sometimes it is clear (e.g. being addressed as sir or miss) while other times I can only guess, based on looks from people and other nonverbal cues.  It would be interesting to track how I am being gendered – to see if there is any pattern to it over time.  The problem with this idea is that it would require I solicit feedback from people (i.e. strangers) and keep some sort of running log: something that is not at all practical.

Or is it?

Prior to the end of 2017, all monthly Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) tickets used to have two boxes on them: a ‘M’ for male and and an ‘F’ for female.  The idea behind this was, supposedly, to help prevent people from sharing tickets: the efficacy thereof being questionable at best.  One thing it definitely did was to create discomfort for trans and otherwise gender non-conforming riders.  Under pressure from several advocacy groups, the MTA finally relented, and eliminated the ‘gendering’ of tickets at the end 2017.

I was featured in a 2016 public radio news piece about the MTA policy.  Those curious can listen to it here: Should the MTA Get Rid of Gendered Passes?

I have saved my monthly LIRR tickets for the past twenty years. It started April 1998, when my ticket was ‘mistakenly’ punched as female: I found it amusing, so I saved the ticket.  This was the genesis of an ad hoc experiment to gather some long-term data with respect to how I am gendered.  Each ticket is a physical record of how, for that month, the conductor gendered me.  It’s not a huge sample set, just one person one day a month, but it is a physical record – enough to yield some interesting insights into my gender journey over the past two decades.

Here is a sample of a monthly ticket:

lirr_aug_06

At the start of the month, the conductor would take your ticket and punch the ‘M’ or ‘F’ as appropriate – with ‘appropriate’ being whatever gender the conductor thought you were.  This was usually a quick, couple of seconds procedure: take the ticket, punch it, hand it back.  In my case, however, they were not always sure what to do, and sometimes got creative.  There have also been a few instances where my ticket was punched one way, only to be ‘corrected’ by another conductor later in the month.

APR2016PIE

These usually have PIE (punched in error) written on them by the conductor who ‘corrected’ this most egreguious of errors.  I have tickets originally punched ‘male’, later changed to ‘female’, and originally punched ‘female’, later changed to ‘male’.  With the sample above, the conductor took my ticket, punched it ‘male’ and handed it back to me.  Then a few seconds later, fumbled about and finally said, “I made a mistake, can I have that back for a sec?”  I handed him my ticket, which he re-punched as ‘female’ and then circled the first (‘male’) punch and wrote PIE.  I had to smile, finding the entire exchange rather silly and pointless.

All in all, I have tickets punched male, female, neither male nor female, male then female, female then male, and some not punched at all.  I have pulled all of this together into a Tableau dashboard, because of course I would. 😉
genderdashboard

Clicking on the above will take you to an interactive dashboard where you can filter by ticket type, year, total punches…  It’s a very clicky dashboard. 🙂

Notes on the data:
  • My gender issues came to a head in 1998. I considered the ‘mispunched’ tickets that year just that, mispunched.
  • Late 1999 through 2001, I started presenting ‘less masculine’ at work.
  • During part of 2002, I was required to dress in standard ‘Business attire’ (i.e. a suit and tie.)
  • From 2003 through 2017, I was presenting more trans / gender non-conforming (TGNC) on a regular (and increasing) basis.
  • 2017 shows my ticked not punched for seven months. It was in the latter part of that year that the MTA stopped punching tickets, finally removing the male and female boxes for 2018.
Observations:
  • The degree to which I have been gendered ‘female’ corresponds to my increasingly TGNC presentation since 2003, which had been pretty consistant.
  • Winter months seems to be the most likely time for me to be gendered as ‘female’
  • Overall, I was gendered ‘male’ only 24% of the time, opposed to being gendered ‘female’ / not sure 57.5% of the time.

What’s My Gender?

Back in June, for pride month, I gave presentation about being transgender and non-binary. It was attended by 100 people in the room, and about 200 people remotely in our other offices. Despite being nervous (I have never spoken publicly like that before) it all went quite well and I received a lot of good feedback. It is important that other transgender voices are heard, and that people get to know the diversity of people in the transgender communities.

This was my presentation, save for a few ad lib comments. Enjoy. 🙂


Hi everyone – I’m Gary.  I am a BI Lead in the Enterprise Data Management group, and I have been with NYL for just over a year now, based out of beautiful Jersey City.  A little bit about me: I am married for 32 years, have two daughters ages 25 and 21, three cats, one chicken – I am a fan of horror and Sci-Fi, I’m a photographer, I built an electronic music studio with way too much gear in it – and I am transgender. I mention being transgender last because it is just one aspect of me as person. I realize that I may not look like what some of you expect a trans person to look like, but like everyone else, we come in all different flavors.  It is important to realize that there is no one way – or correct way – to be transgender.

I also go by the name Donna, a name I have used on line and with friends for over 20 years.  I have a rather long history on-line and was a somewhat prominent voice on Usenet in the late 90’s with respect to discussing transgender identity – specifically what is now referred to as ‘non-binary’ gender identity.

Choosing the name ‘Donna’ has served two purposes. The first was it provided a modicum of anonymity online, as I was anything but ‘out and proud’ back then. The second, I would come to realize, was it helped me to define and own my identity.  A thing is real insofar as you can name it.  Choosing a for myself name served to root my identity with me as opposed to with someone else and their expectations.

Growing up, I was never emphatic about ‘being a girl’ as a young child.  In fact it wasn’t until I hit puberty that found myself wishing I were a girl.  I was alone, confused, conflicted, and never shared these feelings with my parents.  All I knew was that whatever was going on with me, it was somehow ‘wrong’.

I am (possibly) what would have been referred to, back in the day, as a ‘secondary transsexual’ – meaning it wasn’t until later in life (my mid 30’s) that this all came to a head, and I recognized (acknowledged, accepted?) that I was transgender.  Up until that point, I managed all the conflicted feelings I had by telling myself I was just a ‘regular guy’ who had a quirky side.  That worked pretty well, until it didn’t work anymore – go figure.

So… What am I?

My gender is Non-binary / Trans-feminine, and my pronouns are they/them or she/her.  I do not ‘identify as’ or refer to this as my ‘preferred’ gender.  This is my gender.  This is who I am.

“Non-binary / Trans-feminine” … yeah, I know – it sounds a bit like ordering at Starbucks, and I’m sure some (most?) of you are wondering “exactly what does that mean?”

The ‘non-binary’ aspect of my gender is my ‘gender identity’ – i.e. how I see myself in relation to others in society.  I am neither a ‘man’ nor a ‘woman’ as is colloquially defined by society.  I have no strong ‘kinship’ with either of those ‘binary’ gender categories. 

There was a time where I assumed I was a man, but that never ever felt ‘right’.  When I started to address all of this in earnest, I assumed I had to be a woman, because if I wasn’t a man, what else would I be?  It wasn’t until I realized that there was more than just ‘men’ and ‘women’, that I was able to entertain the idea that while I wasn’t a man, I wasn’t a woman either.  

See, there is this whole idea of ‘feeling’ like a man or a woman – I don’t understand what that is supposed to mean.  Despite the efforts to socialize me as one, I know that what I feel is not ‘being’ a man.  At the same time, I have no sense of feeling like or being a woman, either.  All I can assert, with any authority, is that I know what it feels like to be ‘me’ – whatever that may be.

The ‘trans-feminine’ aspect of my gender is my gender presentation.  I present myself, and prefer to interact, in a way that society would colloquially view as ‘feminine’, despite having been “Assigned ‘male’ at birth”.  If you are not familiar with the expression “Assigned ‘male’ at birth”, it simply means that after a cursory visual inspection, my sex (and therefore my gender) was recorded as male.  Also, at that time, my weight was recorded to be somewhere around 5 pounds.  As you can see, a lot has changed since then.

My ‘Trans-feminine’ gender presentation has a definite ‘binary’ feel to it, I won’t deny that – and that’s totally OK.  From the standpoint of interacting with other people, this is more comfortable for me.  This is a presentation that is ‘affirming’ for me.   But it’s just that – a presentation.  It is a set of cues and signifiers to (hopefully) convey how I want others to see me and interact with me. 

My ‘non-binary’ gender identity is not something that is necessarily visible to other people.  I am almost never ‘gendered’ correctly, and every day, I am assumed to be, and gendered as, something I’m not.  My ‘trans-feminine’ gender presentation is visible and can be very apparent. I have forfeit the luxury of moving anonymously through society at large, in favor of being true to myself and as ‘authentic’ as I can be.  I am always visibly trans.

I have been told that what I do is courageous or somehow brave.  The truth is, what I do is completely selfish.  I do this for me, so I can live.  This is not for anyone else’s benefit.  That said, I feel that having gone through all the anguish and effort I have, something more needs to come of this.  There is so much misinformation out there about transgender individuals…

To close, “It’s hard to hate someone you know.”  To that end, to the extent that I can, I try to be that ‘someone’.

So for everyone in the room: if you didn’t before, you all now know at least one trans person.

Thank you.

Godzilla Haiku

And now for something competely different…

Back in 2014, I found out that Godzilla haiku are a thing: a friend of my daughter posted on her Faceboook wall about it.  I was inspired to write a few of my own, which of course  prompted my daughter to write a few back. Just a bit of silliness we shared. 🙂

From Facebook:

Nadiya to My Daughter:
Google “Godzilla haiku”. There is a surprising number of them in Google Images.

Daughter:
Whoa, when did this become a thing…?

Nadiya:
I don’t know, but it’s awesome.

Me:
So misunderstood
A relic from a dead age
He is Gojira

Off in the distance
Kaiju Goira appears
Soon Tokyo falls

A gift from Gaia
Abused and destroyed by man
He will cleanse the Earth

Daughter:
I like that you spent 1/2 an hour finding these

Me:
Silently weeping
He is the last of his kind
Alone for all time

No, I actually wrote them – I felt inspired

🙂

Sceptical she is…
Unable to believe that
maybe dad can write.

😛

Nadiya:
These are beautiful. Bravo.

Daughter:
Why would Godzilla
Who is of Japanese birth
Write these in English?

Not really alone
With all those other kaiju
Lining up to fight

Me:
With feet planted firm
Tail and breath at the ready
Awaiting attack

Tonight’s episode:
A special ‘Iron Poet’
It’s ‘Battle Haiku’

Daughter:
Perhaps Gojira
Is a nation’s lens to view
Nuclear horrors

Hey, wow, look at that!
Meta take on Godzilla
Damn, such a hipster

And such was my brief stint as a poet. 😀

Transition

n.b.: What a long, strange trip it’s been…

I’ve had a rather tenuous relationship with the word ‘transition’.  For me, in the context of being transgender, transition has had a very specific connotation.  It involves a whole process – hormones, surgery, name changes, etc. – to move from ‘male to female’ or ‘female to male’.  For a long time, it was a word I avoided because of the implications – and it was a word I never considered that applied to me.

Sometime early 2000, I started dressing more feminine / androgynous at work.  Pants one day, top another – bits here and there.  Over time it became more overt, and I even went to HR to discuss my situation.  What I wanted was their blessing that what I was doing was ok – I received said blessing within a week.  Later, in 2006, I was having a discussion with a trans woman on-line who told me that despite what I might call it, I had transitioned in my own way, and I had done it rather formally by approaching HR.  I was taken aback some by this, because I never considered what I did to be ‘transitioning’.

It would be three years (2009) before I heard this again.  I attended a panel discussion hosted by J P Morgan, about HR policies regarding transgender employees.  Afterwards, I was chatting with one of the trans women who had spoken, and she asked me (quite matter of fact) “So you transitioned on the job?”  There it was again, that word, being applied to me.  By now I was starting entertain the idea that perhaps I had, in fact, ‘transitioned’.  I continued presenting as I did until January 2011, when I was laid off and had to find a new gig.

In general, transitioning is a gradual, drawn out process.  It can take years (if ever) before everything is done and dusted – but once it’s done, it’s done.  My transition wasn’t like that.  See, for me, it was about my gender presentation – what I needed to feel good and to be authentic to myself.  You might think that this made things easier – and in some ways it did.  Where it became an issue was when I needed to look for work.  Interviewing as an ‘out and proud’ non-binary transgender individual would likely tank my chances of finding a new gig, so it was back on with the suit and tie, as I did my best impersonation of a ‘man’.  It worked – and I found a new job.

The cost of this new job was my own personal ‘de-transition’.  I went to work, once again, ‘as a man’ for three months before I approached HR to ask for permission to present as I had before.  As my wardrobe was not overly feminine, the change wasn’t especially drastic, but it meant a lot to me to be able to dress as I have been doing for close to eleven years.  I would continue doing this for the next eight years (up to 2018.)

The last few years at my previous gig had seen me dress more feminine, as I became more active and vocal in the firm’s LGBT group.  I was getting positive recognition for my contributions, and my ‘transition’ encompassed more than it ever had in the past.  I was feeling good about myself, good about how others saw me, I felt I had finally found my place, found my voice.  The low grade depression which has been with me my entire life had truly taken a back seat to a more positive and optimistic outlook on things…

And then it was 2011 all over again.  I was laid off at the end of 2017, this time loosing all the support and good energy I had found over the past few years.  Days at home were isolating, depressing, and stressful.  Looking for work once again required a suit and tie – and that I bury my gender non-conformity.  For a second time, I had to ‘de-transition’.  It would take me five months to find a new job here at New York Life.

Once again, I found myself going to work ‘as a man’ – but I refused to give up a few feminine embellishments: my earrings (nothing near what I had been wearing, but still there), Pandora bracelet, Tiffany heart necklace – anchors to ‘who I am”, all overshadowed by the fact that ‘I am a guy’ as far as everyone know.  I settled in, trying to intuit the right time to contact HR, ‘come out yet again’, and have the discussion about me and what I need.  I had few reservations that the discussion would be anything but positive, but one never knows.  What stressed me the most was the impending discussion with my immediate management. I was pleasantly surprised to find I needn’t have worried as I did.  That was a year ago now – how time flies…

No two trans people will have the same experiences as one another.  While I share many experiences with diverse cross section of people under the ‘transgender umbrella’, each of our journeys is deeply personal.  I have walked a path that is very much my own.  It is path I continue to travel.

‘Transition’ used to frighten the crap out of me, because it carried with it a sense of finality: having left something far, far behind, and having passed a point of no return.  Close to twenty years later, there is no reason to deny or misrepresent what I have done: I have ‘transitioned’ – and I have made peace with that.

No price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.  –  Rudyard Kipling

Why I Marched in the Pride Parade this Year

n.b.: I have a whole backstory as to my issues with the pride parade.  After writing it all out, I realized that none of it really matters, as I have clearly overcome them this year.

It has been a long road getting here, but I made it: I marched in the Pride Parade this year.  Having never attended the parade before, my ‘first time’ was to march in it, on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall.  Go big, or go home I suppose. 🙂

Twenty years ago, when all my trans issues ‘came to a head’, my wife’s position was “This is your problem, not mine.”  Her support / tolerance / acceptance of all this ‘trans stuff’ has waxed and waned over the years.  She never signed up for all of this, and there have been more than a few times where she made that known.  This put it on me to somehow ‘make it work’ and keep everyone ‘happy’.  Happy, of course, is a very subjective term, and for many years, I described what we had as a sort of detente with respect to my needs and what she would tolerate.

Twenty years is a long time, and people do not stay together that long by mearly ‘tolerating’ one another.  It is within the past few years, though, that I think the bigest change has happened.  I became more ‘out’ at work, more involved, and that had a positive effect on me.  I began to be recognized for being trans, and making a positive impact.  I began to feel ‘good’ about myself and what I might have to offer others.  That is not something easily hidden.

Getting laid off end of 2017 hit me hard, and it visibly ‘undid’ everything I had gained.  I think that maybe for the first time, my wife saw just how deeply this all impacted me.  I was not able to ‘tough it out’ as I might have in the past.  It was one of the few times in my life that I acutely felt the dysphoria many trans people experience.

It honestly took all I could muster to put on a suit and tie, to do my best impersonation of ‘a man’ when I interviewed here at NYL.  I was shaking when I left the house, but got it under control, and ultimately, I pulled it off.  Two weeks after startng here, I reached out to ODI about ‘being me’ at work – and within a month, I ditched the ‘man drag’.  I was aprehensive, but feeling better.

Fast forward one year here at NYL.  I was asked if I was going to march with NYLPride.  I said that I was considering it, but that I hadn’t decided.  As my n.b. above mentions, I have had mixed feelings about the pride parade in the past.  However, this was the first time in twenty years that I felt that I was at a place, personally, where I wanted to march.  I felt a real sense of being a part of a group that acepted me, and I found that I was comfortable with the idea of ‘marching’ publically, and with this group of people.

Before even offering that I was going to march, I asked my wife, “Would you be interested in marching in the pride parade this year?”  I honestly didn’t know what she would say.  She took a few seconds and answered, “Sure, why not!”  I was a bit stunned, but happy – and it became immediately clear that I could not back out now.  I was going to march, and so was my wife.  I then asked my daughter, who is home from college, if she and her girlfriend would like to march as well.  There would now be four of us.

If my wife has said no, I’m not sure I would have gone… maybe I would have – who knows?   For all the support I get at work, It cannot compare with the support of family.

And so after twenty years:

  • with my straight(?) wife, holding a pride and trans flag up high
  • with my bi daughter (and her girlfriend)
  • dressed as a big ‘ol trans pride flag
  • surrounded by a decidedly amazing group of colleagues and their families

I marched – not in the back, but up front – unapologetically owning who I am – perhaps more publically than I ever have before.

BM_Me_Vic

Here’s looking forward to 2020… 🙂

The Importance of Being Earnest

n.b.: Transgender Day of Visibility 2019 was this past Sunday, March 31. While I am out and visible, it took me a while to do so in ‘earnest’.

It was 1997 when I discovered Usenet, and the various public transgender related forums it hosted. That discovery, and the realization that I was not as alone in the world as I had once thought, marked the beginning of my exploration of my gender related issues. As these were public forums, I needed some ‘online identity’ behind which I could maintain some anonymity: I was light years away from being ‘out and proud’. The name I decided on was Donna – specifically Donna Lynn Matthews. I think it took me all of five minutes to settle on it, and to create an e-mail account for her. And thus was born my alter ego.

Donna has posted online for over twenty years. During that time, I have joined new forums where people have ‘recognized’ me from pieces I have written, I have found references to my website and blog in online course notes for college classes, and as I mentioned in “Why Can’t You Just be Trans?”, a humble glossary of terms I wrote is referenced as “[o]ne of the missing links between wider popularization and Usenet” of the term ‘cisgender’. For over twenty years, I have literally maintained two identities: Gary – who pretty much kept his head down and did his best to get through life, and Donna – who has been the voice for all of my musings on gender.

In 2006, I reached out to the LGBT group at Lehman Brothers, and ultimately had my profile posted on their intranet site. That was really the start of my being ‘out at work’ as transgender. Lehman Brothers / Barclays, FXAll / Thomson Reuters, New York Life… It has now been thirteen years, with the last two or three where I have really been the most out and vocal – the last two or three years where ‘Donna’ has lent her voice someplace outside the Internet.

For the past twenty years, my ‘gender expression’ as a trans-person has been largely at work, with me downplaying it while at home. This is because for the past twenty years, I have walked a line between what I need, what I can ‘live with’, and what my wife is comfortable with. It has been a delicate balancing / juggling act, and truth be told, I have dropped the balls more than a few times. It is an imperfect solution to a difficult situation, and there are no rules for making something like this work. Time and perseverance have brought us to what seems to be a relatively stable place.

I joined Facebook in 2009. ‘Back in the day’, the only options for ‘gender’ on your profile were male and female. I choose male and hid that information. For almost ten years, save for the very occasional repost, my Facebook wall was transgender free. I did not ‘like’ or repost any transgender content. I did not comment on posts regarding transgender issues. There was next to nothing that would lead anyone to think I was transgender. When Facebook finally offered (in 2015 I think) expanded gender options, I seized on the opportunity to ‘self identitify’, and I changed my gender there to ‘Trans, Gender Nonconforming and Non-binary’. I felt safe with this, because, really, who reads profiles? This was also when I started ‘liking’ transgender related posts. At some point in 2017, in response to Trump’s general attitude towards transgender people, I began re-posting transgender related content. I could not remain silent in light of the current political climate. But even with this, I was still not ‘openly transgender’ on Facebook: I was a supporter, an advocate – at best, an ‘ally’.

On October 21 2018, the Trump administration issued ‘memo’ that would effectively erase federal recognition of trans and nonbinary gender identities. There was an immediate online response with #WontBeErased. Trans and otherwise gender non-conforming people were putting the administration on notice: we will not be erased. That morning, I took fresh picture of myself. On Tuesday, with no fanfare, I updated my Facebook profile picture, including a “WontBeErased” graphic on it.

Gary was now out, publicly, as a transperson.

I received supportive comments, as opposed to the negativity for which I was bracing. What touched me the most was a private message from a woman who was a classmate from high school:

Gary, I’m not on FB much anymore bc I found it raises my blood pressure! When I was checking in more often, I always appreciated your intelligent posts, not knowing what u were living thru until u recently changed your profile pic. I just want to tell u how profoundly touched I am by your courage and how deeply I respect and honor u and feel grateful that our paths crossed at one time. While we were never close, I still want u to know that I am here for u if u ever need a friend. I hope u are living your best life and r happy. Please know that there r many of us out there who have your back 👍🏻❤️😘

The genie is out of the bottle, and she’s not going back inside.

I celebrated this past Transgender Day of Visibility with a new picture. It seemed appropriate:

55943909_2350271538316161_5650348465109073920_n

I have been ‘visible’ for a long time, while very much ‘hiding’ in plain sight.

Time to be ‘me’ in earnest…