14 September 2008

Passing Through

Sometimes silly things make my day. Like the guy I passed while riding down Cross Bay Boulevard in Howard Beach. He was even more weatherbeaten than the bike he was riding, but still had some of that raw sensuality you sometimes see in ex-hippies, or men who look like they lived in the mountains and didn't care what people think of their facial hair. In other words, he was like a somewhat-less-glamorous version of Jerry Garcia, before he was destroyed by drugs.

As I pedalled alongside , for a moment, he said "hello."

"Hi. How are you doin'?"

"Not as good as you look, babe!"

OK. So he wasn't that waiter in that restaurant where Bruce and I had lunch the other day. I can't even say I was attracted to the guy, or that I was consciously flirting with him. But I figure that even if he says things like that to anyone who looks even remotely female, I'll take it.

Now, there's nothing like that first time you pass. And before you start to live the life of your real gender, you're grateful for those moments when someone calls you by your preferred pronouns and salutations, holds a door or simply doesn't notice you. Now I more or less take those things for granted. But a compliment from a stranger, even if he wouldn't make me forget Dominick, is always welcome.

The funny thing is that I almost never feel that I look good, much less pretty or beautiful, but I often feel proud of the person I see in the mirror now. Even in my darker moments I see a certain calm that was never there before, and people have told me they see "gentleness" in my face and eyes. Even when I'm in selling "to hell with it all" at work or in any other situation, someone tells me--without saying it--that I'm better than that; I don't do misanthropy terribly convincingly.

But I think that guy on the bike saw just a blonde pumping her legs and sweating. As I've said before, that's enough for some guys.

The first time someone calls you "Ma'am" or "Miss(!)". Or calls you those silly-cutesy names like "cupcake" or "doll." Or "mamacita." Even the first time someone calls you "bitch" is a milestone.

Of course, I'd probably feel differently if I'd been living as a woman, and dealing with men who see me as an object, all of my life. Now that I think of it, I don't know how I've come to this point after having been molested as a boy by three men (at different times).

Actually, now that I think of it, I know how I got here: I dealt with the abuse. This process has taken me many years, and getting to the point of starting that process took much, much longer.

Now I know that while men can do all sorts of brutual and awful things, I also know that the kind, considerate and sensitive men I know are not aberrations.

When you know them, you only have to be who you are. And other people respond to that.

Hey, maybe that's what "passing" is. And people--many, anyway--treat you well as you're passing through.

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