Everybody Knows. Besides being one hell of a song by Mr. Leonard Cohen, this is basically how I live my life. I live it as if everybody knows.
Before transitioning, I just figured any time I was presenting as Jen, everybody knew. I assumed that it was that apparent that I was not a girl. As I walked about, having left the house feeling amazingly good about myself and my appearance, I would end up in a public place and immediately would think, “Everybody Knows”.
This made it particularly difficult so many times. Many times I would park the car, usually a bit further away then normal, so I could have that added bit of time before face to face contact with people. Perhaps this long walk added to the thoughts, but so many times I would almost make it to the doors of someplace, only to feign forgetting something, and walk rapidly back to the car.
There were times that I would be walking through campus, feeling every eye on me, because everybody knew. They had to know. So I would find myself taking all sorts of bizarre and sudden turns, just to avoid one person walking toward me on the sidewalk.I knew that they knew.
This also kept me from meeting up with friends from time to time. Perhaps I was out as Jen, and I possibly would get a text or call for lunch, but I wouldn’t go. Although everybody knows, my closest friends didn’t, some did, some did not. I would be asked to go out by those who did know, but I didn’t want to be in a place where everybody would know, and I may have to defend myself. So I would turn down these invitations. I turned them down because I knew, no matter where we went, everybody would know and stare and talk. And possibly confront me. I knew this would happen.
As the past few years progressed, my confidence grew and my friends could see it. They knew. It was ok.
Since transitioning, I assume everybody knows. Some may say this is bad, but I view it as good. If everybody knows, then I don’t have to hide or pretend anything. I can just be myself. I can be my normal, everyday, quirky self. But this does lead to some issues.
A couple months ago, I was up north and ended up having lunch with an amazing person in our company. As we talked, the conversation moved to my moving here, leaving family behind and my daughter. Then here came the question, “Where is the father in all of this?” My answer took a second, because I was caught off guard by that question. “Well,” I said, “I am her father.” The look of delighted surprise and admiration made my day and showed me that maybe not everybody knows.
A couple weeks ago myself and two coworkers were being flown up to our north office. The flight was booked and confirmed with all three of us on the same confirmation. The lady that I had lunch with a couple months prior booked the flight and felt terrible that our names were all together and that they would see my given name, not my chosen name. I told her it was quote ok and that I always assume everybody knows. She told me I should never think that way because she would have never known had we not had our lunch.
But I live my life as though Everybody Knows just the same. As I said, if everybody knows, then I do not have to pretend. I can just be me.