23 February 2010

Old, New and Current Beginnings

Today I didn't go to work. I had a really bad headache all day yesterday and my nose was more congested than the Long Island Expressway during rush hours. And when I blew my nose, what came out was only slightly less toxic than some Superfund sites.

So I went to my doctor, at Callen Lorde. Actually, I didn't go to Richie Tran, my regular doctor; I saw one Victor Inaka,of the other doctors in the practice. On my way into the building, I saw Dr. Jennifer, my gynecologist. She's exactly what you want any health care professional to be: She not only has good knowledge and skills, she makes you feel better just by being within sight and hearing distance.

With Jennifer was someone I hadn't seen in a long time. (I seem to have run into a lot of people like that lately!) Kate is one of the butchest (Is that a legitimate adjective?) women I've ever known. She once told me that she thought she was transgedered but decided to live through her "masculine side."

She facilitated the very first transgender support group in which I participated. I can't believe that it was eight years ago! I can recall some of my "classmates" in that group. One, who called herself "Jennifer,' was sixty-five years old. She had just recently begun to live full-time as a woman, having waited until her children were grown and until she retired from her job to "come out." As she expected, it ended her marriage, but she didn't seem too sorry about that.

I'm also recalling Laura, who was a freelance photographer, among other things. She was attending Sarah Lawrence College, which--not surprisingly--she found to be a "tolerant and supportive atmosphere." We went to the Guggenheim and a couple of galleries together, and spent some time with me as Tammy and I were splitting up. I enjoyed the time I spent with Laura because she and I saw our gender transitions--and life itself--as spiritual journeys. She once told me that her goal was to "become the Buddha."

Then there was Marianne, who had just recently "come out." She had just taken a leave from Columbia University, where she had completed two years' worth of courses. I won't make any judgment as to whether she--or anyone else--is transgendered, or any other label you can think of. But I remember feeling that she had a whole bunch of other issued that she needed to work out before embarking on a transition. I know, because I had some of those very issues.

I wonder where they are now. I'm especially curious to know how (or whether) Jennifer continued to live as Jennifer. Tom at SAGE and I are still talking about creating a group for older trans people, so hearing about Jennifer's experiences would be especially interesting to me. I'm also wondering whether Laura continued her transition or whether her journey led her to someone else. As for Marianne, I'd like to know that she's still intact.

There were others in that group, some of whom attended continuously and others who came and went. At least one or two may have decided they weren't transgendered after all, or simply decided they didn't want to make the transition. Sometimes I think the latter is Kate's story.

Speaking of whom...Seeing her again further changed my perception of time. She met me just as I was leaving my life with Tammy and now I am post-op. The one constant is that I have been a woman all along, which I think she understood.

Seeing her again--especially in the presence of Dr. Jennifer--made it difficult for me to believe that eight years have passed since I participated in that group Kate facilitated. Yet my days in that group seem like they happened aeons ago.

But Kate and Dr. Jennifer, like Marci, also represent beginnings in my life. By definition, beginnings define and demarcate the past. That is why the people who helped to make them happen are always present for you, even if you don't see them for years.