29 December 2008

Just As Long As They All Know I'm a Woman

Another warm, sunny day during which I rode along the ocean. About the only thing that could've been better was if I were riding one of my own bikes instead of the clunker Dad borrowed from a neighbor.

I never, ever thought I'd be tempted to move to Florida. Somehow I couldn't imagine life without the changing seasons or the hustle and bustle of New York. And, I have also assumed that as a transgender woman, I wouldn't be able to live anywhere else, save perhaps for San Francisco or a couple of cities in Europe.

But I find that everyone has been treating me as if I were a middle-aged (or even younger!) woman. Today I stopped in another Kangaroo store: this one in Flagler Beach, across Route A1A from the dunes. A very nice young black man worked behind the counter; another black man about his age was making deliveries. They were bantering, hamming it up to the music on the radio and even dancing. I was loving every second of it: They seemed so spontaneous yet passionate at the same time.

When I walked up to the counter with a small carton of juice and a packet of pralines, the nice young man stopped his shuffle and said, "Oh, I'm sorry ma'am."

"You've done nothing wrong."

"Ma'am, we get like this. We just like to have fun, ma'am."

"Why not? We only go around once; we may as well enjoy it."

"That's true, ma'am. And, look at you ma'am. You're smiling."

"Thank you for making that possible."

"See, Ma'am, I want to make this a happy store, ma'am. They're not like this over at Seven-Eleven."

"How could they? They don't have you guys there."

"Oh, thank you, ma'am. That's very nice of you."

"Well, you're very nice."

"Thank you again, ma'am. Have a nice day, ma'am."

"You do the same. And have a happy new year."

"Likewise, ma'am. I hope to see you again, ma'am."

I continued down A-1A to the Casements, a house where John D. Rockefeller spent the last years of his life. Men, some of them even younger than the ones in the Kangaroo store, tipped their caps to me. Others looked up from cutting hedges or other outdoor chores to greet me. And, in the Casements, a female volunteer led me and an elderly couple from Oregon on a tour. The gentleman reached over to hold doors open for the volunteer, me and his wife. However, when we entered the study, I got to the door first and held it for his wife, who, I learned later, suffered from polio as a child and has walked with a cane ever since. And I continued to hold it for him and the volunteer, but he yanked it away from me.

Call his behavior chauvinism if you like. But I think his wife feels very fortunate to be married to him. And he's the sort of man who'd tell you he's the lucky one.

The kinds of expereinces I had today could make me forget that I'm transgendered. Actually, I have forgotten about it, at times: As far as people know I am a woman. And, in fact, I am.

I haven't even been talking about my transition with my parents. Perhaps my identity as a woman is becoming a "given" for them. It's no longer startling or novel to me when Dad and I hug or kiss, or when Mom and I do those things with even more emotion, and for longer, than we had before.

Now, I can't say what living here 24/7 for 365 (or 366, depending on the year) would be like. But the idea of moving here after my surgery and starting a new life (Can you do that when you live in the same town as your parents?) is, in some ways appealing.

Just as long as they all know I'm a woman.

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