Remembrance of Things Past

Friday morning, second week of January 2010 : I’m in the cafeteria when I see her. She is in her early twenties, jaw-length bob, perfect makeup, wearing a bright blue cowl neck sweater, leather skirt coming down just above her knee, a wide black belt, dark tights and classy heals. I can hear her as she chats with her friends – a sweet girl as far as I can tell. As I look at her, a flood of feelings washes over me – feelings I have managed to (largely) avoid for the past year. As I walk past, I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in the glass of a display case. I am filled with a feeling of self loathing as I study the image of the ersatz woman it reflects. I know that no amount of wishing or hoping or appeals to greater powers will ever give me what she has. As I look at my own reflection, I begin to consider the entire exercise to be an effort in futility…

Winter 1998 : my friend Laura and I are swapping emails as I try and wrap my head around all this trans-crap. She keeps telling me how I am different from other people – from the cisgendered I walk amongst. I tell her I go to work, pay my taxes, own a home, a car, I support my family… I am the same as anyone else. She becomes indignant, as she often does, and tells me I need to f’ing accept that I am *not* like everyone else and I never will be. I’m not ready for this: I have spent a lifetime of effort to ‘be’ like other people. I don’t understand *why* I need to be different, especially when I cannot see it. I don’t *want* to be different – I never have…

June 1982 : I tossed out my stash of girly crap in an effort to prove that it’s all a phase. As the summer wears on, I become more and more frustrated and depressed. I think about how it might be best if the world had one less person in it. I figure a car accident would be best as it would be just that – an accident. I make plans, run the scenario over in my head… I am weak, and I ultimately replace my purged cache. I slip back into the darkness that is my secret self…

October 2008 : my former employer has become a casualty of the economy. I am in a mild panic as to what I am going to do: both in terms of my profession and my presentation. I managed to carve out a niche for myself as an openly trans person in an otherwise conservative industry. I really do not know how I did it or even if I could do it again. I also don’t know that I could go back to ‘being’ what I once pretended to be. As I drive to the train on a dark rainy morning, I think back to 1982. I close my eyes and press down on the accelerator. While it was only for a few seconds, I feel a sense that I have some measure of control over my life…


It’s Monday, February 8 2010 at 9:15pm : I am driving home from the train station after what is a typical day. I am stopped at a light waiting to make a left turn – classical music, not my usual choice, plays as the light turns green and I start my turn…

It’s already too late when I see the headlights: I am mid turn and the lights are almost on top of me. There is no where to go – nothing to do. I look at the approaching lights and think, “fuck…”

There is this phenomena called time dilation wherein time moves at a different rate for an individual compared to an external observer: I am convinced it is as much a biochemical phenomenon as it is a physical one. Upon seeing the headlights, everything went silent – and things slowed to the point of almost stopping completely. I can only guess that my brain went into some sort of ‘overdrive’ – processing so much so quickly that it made the moment seem much longer than it actually was. The cliche of one’s life flashing before their eyes may not be far from the truth. It was like a core dump of my memories: good, bad, things I have not thought of for ages…

I remember what is probably my first act of public gender transgression. I was maybe fifteen and I had bought a small purple purse. I’m not sure what made me buy it but I did. It sat hidden in my room for months until one day I took it out and while no one was home, I bicycled to the mall by my house. I put my wallet and keys in it, put it on my shoulder, and walked around the mall. There was no ‘passing’ involved here – just some boy with a purse…

Bits and pieces of my somewhat odd life popped up – most of which have once again receded onto the darker recesses of my memory.

The irony of the situation was not lost on me. I found it morbidly amusing that things would end this way. I had thought about this before – many times in fact… What I never anticipated was that this might *actually* happen. That which I had been unwilling to pursue in earnest was now in full play and I was helpless to stop it. I remember thinking, “Be careful what you wish for…”

The silent eternity of the moment was broken by a loud pop as the glass behind my head shattered and things went black…

The pickup truck that t-boned me had spun my car around about 180 degrees. The car is rolling towards the spot from which I had just been when I regain some sense things and manage to drive to the side of the road and park. Dazed but seemingly OK, I get out of my car to see what happened: the rear driver side is caved in – it’s a mess. The other driver comes over to see if I am OK and calls the police. More people come over… “Are you OK Miss?” It does not register at first and I answer as best I can. I am stammering – unable to organize my thoughts, and it’s so cold out. I get back in my car to try and keep warm, call my wife and manage to tell her what happened and where – and ask her to please come down there.

More people came up to the car: “Miss, are you alright?” It’s a bit clearer now. All I can think is “Please, not here, not now…” I stammer out a reply in the affirmative… I just want everyone to go away and leave me alone, but I know better. An ambulance shows up and the EMTs proceed to strap me in a collar and onto a backboard. “Move her this way…” “Tilt him back…” Under different circumstances I might have been amused, but right now I just want it all to go away. I tell them I’m fine, really – but they say that once they have started they have to follow through.

I am in the ER, strapped to this board – and my wife is here with me. I feel so silly all tied down – silly and embarrassed about the whole thing. The ER team come in and take my temperature and ask some questions: my name, the date, do I know where I am – standard stuff. The decide they want to do an EKG and proceed to undress me: cutting off my sweater, pulling off my pants, my shoes and socks… I become painfully aware of myself. I’m laying there in panties with red toenails when they put a gown over me. One doctor fumbles trying to get my earrings off and I have to help him. I am sure that they have seen stranger than me in the ER, but I’m not thinking of that now. I’m embarrassed: both for me and for my wife. I wish I had died at this point. I can only imagine what they think of the stammering tranny they have here. After what seemed like another eternity, they get me all hooked up and leave the room…

With the commotion finally subsided, I begin to cry. My wife has been here this whole time – in the room as they all very professionally did their jobs. She has been here as they all got to see the prize of a husband she landed: painted toes, girly undies, long hair, earrings and remains of my makeup… I not crying not for me, but for subjecting her to this. She comes over and asks, “What’s wrong?” I lie and tell her it’s all just a bit overwhelming.

Not knowing how long I will be there, I tell my wife to go home at around midnight. A CT, x-rays of my knee… As I am lifted and moved about, I do my best to maintain some modesty, but have only minimal success. I am only slightly relieved that my embarrassment is confined to just me at this point. Again, people are professional about it all, but I know that once back in my berth I’ll become fodder for as least a good giggle.

I remember when two years ago, my physician suggested I get a mammogram. She was professional about it: I’m 45 and I have breasts – it just made sense. When I go to have it done, I am asked “Why are we doing a mammo today?” By the third time, in an attempt to defuse my own anxiety, I cup my breasts, smile and say “Because of these.” No one was laughing or even making fun, but it’s one thing to walk anonymously down the street as trans – it’s an entirely different thing to have to confront it so intimately.

By 4:00am my films are read and I am given a clean bill of health – and allowed to go home. My adventure for the evening is almost over.


It’s 4:30am Tuesday morning and I have been up for twenty four hours: my wife picks me up at the hospital and takes me home. If she is embarrassed by any of this, she doesn’t show it or mention it: not now or in the days following. I think about what it is I do – walking this line between two worlds.  There is a sort of blissful ignorance about it: I *do* what I do and never consider the implications of it until it’s thrust in my face. I wonder if it’s all really worth the effort.



  1. thereisthelettinggo
    Posted April 6, 2010 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

    Your writing is inspirational and I’m sure it helps many people struggling with gender identity/expression. I’m looking forward to future posts 🙂

  2. Posted July 12, 2012 at 1:36 pm | Permalink

    That sounds like it was so hard.

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