Of course that is a title of a great Foreigner song and it’s what Madonna describes within the context of Like A Virgin. But this has nothing to do with either of those songs or topics.
I attended my first ever Trans support group last night, and went out afterwards. If you know me, and unless you are linking this from my Facebook page you probably don’t, you know I am an extreme introvert, as well as being a self healer.
I attended through the invitation of a new friend that just happened to like a comment I posted on some topic, on some mutual friend’s page. I generally don’t just accept requests, because I like to research the person and see if I am going to suddenly have spread leg photos on my page. But as I quickly glanced at her profile, I decided to accept. Within about 20 minutes, there was a message thanking me for accepting. And personally thanking, not that “thanks 4 the add”.
So I messaged back….and we struck up a FB conversation, which then passed over to texting, again, I never give out my number, but I did. For the first time. It was nice.
Alas, I digest. So I went to my first support group, ever. Never went to AA, though maybe I should have in college (but I quit cold turkey—and not meaning just that drink). I was never involved in any kind of support group. I wanted to attend the LGB meetings on my college campus, but I was not allowed. It was JUST those three letters. No T, no Q. So I built my own support group throughout my life, by the friends that I chose. A couple fell by the wayside, but most everyone stayed intact. My “Army Of Supporters” as I referred to them as I began to transition. By the way, I miss you all, and always will.
So back to my first ever meeting. Have you noticed how easily I stray from the path of the topic at hand? It’s like walking on a trail and then seeing this really wonderful animal, or flower, and suddenly you are far off the trail, you get lost in the beauty of the thing that made you stray, and then you realize it’s like The Hobbit (the BOOK, not the movie) and you find yourself surrounded by giant spiders as you fumble for your ring of invisibility. I usually wish I was invisible, until I feel like I am.
But this was not the case at last night’s group. I sat down, wrote my name on a tag and looked around the room. An eclectic array of people, all trying to make sense of where they are in the journey, talking about this problem or that, this triumph or that milestone. Or just making an angry statement about labels. So I did what I do best. I observed. I listened. And to my amazement, I chimed in.
They asked what we would tell someone outside the community, to give them something to help educate/understand. My thought was that most importantly, those outside the community realize that we just ARE. We are still who we were and we are who we are. We will become who we will be. I think I was able to show that to people who knew me before transitioning, and I really hope I am the same person. I feel as though I am.
And then I followed that up by saying I transitioned VERY publicly at Target, in a small Indiana town (this was greeted with smile for two reasons which I will tell momentarily). I told how I was greeted very positively in this small city, with no bad experiences, though I knew there were points it could have gone bad, but the people stayed classy until they walked away or out of the building. Then there were the kids. By the time I left Target, everything was cool, but in that phase leading up to transitioning, and the first few weeks after, kids would loudly ask, “Are you a boy or a girl?” to which I would reply, simply, “Yes”. Sometimes this was met with a desire for more information. Sometimes with a “Oh, cool” and sometimes with a bewildered look because I did not give them an answer that fell on the side of acknowledgement.
When I gave this answer, laughter erupted from a couple people, huge smiles from others and statements like, “That is a really good reply.” It’s times like that, that really make me happy to be who I am. Not the recognition, I couldn’t really care less about that, but it’s that warm feeling of being genuine (which I always am) and truly saying something that is accepted and entertaining at the same time. I like to make people smile and laugh, yet lack the ability to crawl onto a stage and provide even 10 minutes of entertainment to anyone. I simply don’t think I’m that funny or entertaining. Just genuine.
After the group I was approached by one of the moderators, and she thanked me for speaking at my first meeting. She was even more surprised that this was my first time. (I’m glad they were gentle). Upon speaking to several others, the other smile and “Ohhhhh” at the Indiana revelation was revealed. Two people in the group were from Indiana. One from up around Gary and the other just southeast of Indianapolis.
As we all wrangled ourselves outside, we made plans to go to Denny’s. There many of us who went, where we continued for another 2 hours of conversations ranging from meds to amazing music. So, as you get in a wide range of people, not everyone is “passable”, whatever that really means, so there ended up being some mocking by a couple morons at a table. I didn’t hear anything, mainly because I don’t keep an ear out for it, and secondly, 31 years of RUSH concerts and blasting the music in headphones and cars, has taken its toll on my hearing.
So we wrapped it all up and went our separate ways. I came away from this first meeting of support that I have never needed, taking a few things with me. I got to know my friend who invited me, much better. I got to meet new people and actually speak with them. I realized that I can overcome this barrier of doubt I have, where I do not believe I have anything of worth to say. I also learned, that just maybe, I do need support. There are things I do not know and things I have yet to do. Electrolysis or laser hair removal. Name change regulations….loads of things I need to know about and friends that need to be made.
At the young age of 47, I realize there are still things to learn and that I can actually contribute to things that I usually just observe.