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Musings of an Impossible Girl: A Triangle in a World of Circles and Squares

2016 July 13
by jen

I recently began working on a passion project, Possible Girls, a geek culture website about possibilities, dedicated to women and trans women, geeks and nerds and fangirls of all ages and all backgrounds. As I ponder, how I when to roll this site out, I figured I’d share some of the articles I’ve written for launch.

I’d like to say I’m a square peg in a round hole, but I’ve come to realize that I’m more of a triangle in the world of circles and squares.

I see the world differently than most; I always have, with my opinions frequently being characterized as coming from “out of left field.” Not that I’m complaining; I just try to see the world from different viewpoints, through different eyes, and synthesize that into my own unique perspective.

Certainly I see the good and the bad, but I try to focus on the good, on the positive. What we have in common, instead of what separates us. I try to see what the future can be, the possibilities in life. Like all people, I have my doubts from time to time, but that doubt, that little voice of what can go wrong, is what tends to prevent us from doing amazing things. And while I might not do amazing things, that won’t stop me from making the attempt.

But first, let me talk a little bit about that troublesome triangle.

You see, I am transgender. In world of gender binaries, I found myself wanting the world of one, whilst firmly planted in the other. It took me a lifetime to see that. I denied who I was; I hid who I was, always fearing someone would find out my deepest, darkest secret. For the longest time I thought there was something wrong me. Profoundly wrong with me. That I was broken. That I was a freak.

But one day, about two years ago, I saw my life in a way that I could not unsee. If you’ve ever seen All That Jazz, I had a moment of clarity. Like the final stage of Dr. Kübler-Ross’s five stages of death and dying, I finally accepted who I am. Like Davis Newman the stand-up comedian, I stood in my living room, looked at the ceiling and shouted, “I accept!”

The catalyst? Realizing that this is who I’ve been since I was eight years old. In an epiphanic moment, I realized this wasn’t a phase or a bad habit I was going to quit some day. It was, it is, who I am. And that led me on a journey that I could not deny, I could not hide, not any longer.

To be honest, those first few months were the scariest of my life. Sure I accepted who I am, but would others? Would they think I’m broken, a freak? But to my surprise when I came out in what I like to dub my coming out tour, a majority of my friends embraced my decision, showing more support and love than I ever thought possible. And let me tell you, that’s an amazing feeling. After a lifetime of shame over who I was, the hiding, the secrets, the fear, I finally got to be me.

And while I had taken the first step, the road ahead was still not an easy one. And I don’t just mean the stares, the whispers, the outright contempt a trans woman can periodically experience out in the world. But staying true to myself. To maintain the authenticity of who I am. Not to become a caricature of a woman, not to adopt a persona, but to allow what I had kept locked away inside of me for so long to grow naturally, authentically.

It’s been almost two years since I said the words, “I accept,” and I’ve never been happier. It taught me that sometimes the hardest decisions are the ones we need to make. And while I do know what road I’m on, I don’t know exactly where it will lead or which exit I might take. But let me tell you, I’ve passed a lot more exits than I ever thought possible. Sometimes the journey is more important than the destination, as long as you enjoy the ride.

Many of my friends have called me brave. I don’t think that’s the right word. I think I finally stopped being a coward. Finally stopped being afraid.

All in all, being a triangle ain’t so bad.

Down the Rabbit Hole: Beyond ‘Bitchcakes’

2016 June 29
by jen

I recently began working on a passion project, Possible Girls, a geek culture website about possibilities, dedicated to women and trans women, geeks and nerds and fangirls of all ages and all backgrounds. As I ponder, how I when to roll this site out, I figured I’d share some of the articles I’ve written for launch.

Newsradio was arguably one of the sharpest comedies ever produced, airing on NBC from 1995 to 1999. Based in a dysfunctional New York City radio newsroom, the show boasted one of the best ensemble casts ever assembled, including Dave Foley, Phil Hartman, Maura Tierney, Stephen Root, Andy Dick, Joe Rogan, Khandi Alexander and the fabulous Vicki Lewis as the quirky receptionist Beth.

I could go on about how brilliant the show was, and why you might not have heard of it, but that’s not what I’m obsessed about, at least today. This particular rabbit hole is focused on one specific episode from season two that has stuck with me for over 20 years. The episode in question,”Physical Graffiti,” written by Josh Lieb and series creator Paul Simms, featured a brilliant B storyline wherein the utterly eccentric receptionist Beth decides to invent new words to see how long it will take before they catch on. Or better yet, watch the bit for yourself:

And while “bitchcakes” never did make an appearance on Melrose Place, it did find some traction as evidenced by Urban Dictionary:

Bitchcakes: Not British slang…it is from the 90’s TV show “Newsradio”. Secretary Beth decides to make up a word and see if she can get others to use it by dropping into every conversation. By the end of the day, everyone is using it. Has become popular in Britain due to the popularity of the show.

Even more intriguing is that I actually know someone who claimed to be part of a group with the very same idea well before Newsradio was ever on the air. The word they attempted to introduce into pop culture? You guessed it, Bitchcakes! True or not, it does seem it would be poetic justice for their effort to succeed and their very intent coopted.

But that got me to thinking. What word can I create and infest the world with?

Let’s just say my first several attempts were not as successful as I had hoped.

Brills. Fantazing. Traveshamockery.

Who’d have thunk Bob Odenkirk would beat me to the punch back in 2004, well before Saul Goodman?

But undaunted, I finally stumbled upon an entirely new word. Never before uttered, at least on the interwebs. Not even a Twitter hashtag.

Possitastic.

For a moment, I thought I was sunk when I found a variation, possi-tastic, in the august pages of the Jacksonville Daily Journal, as in Jacksonville, Illinois, on April 25, 1969. But upon perusal of the actual page on newspapers.com, I discovered it was actually a mashup of two separate articles, back when words got hyphenated. Possi for Possi-ble and tastic for fan-tastic.

Don’t believe me? Let me present Exhibit A.

possi-tastic-1969

So there you go. Possitastic is officially created on June 29, 2016. So let it be written, so let it be done.

Now all I have to do is dust off my fax and wait for the reboot of Melrose Place.

Image via Newspapers.com/Newspapers.com

Diary of a Time Girl: My Doctor Who Obsession Explained

2016 June 25
by jen

I recently began working on a passion project, Possible Girls, a geek culture website about possibilities, dedicated to women and trans women, geeks and nerds and fangirls of all ages and all backgrounds. As I ponder, how I when to roll this site out, I figured I’d share some of the articles I’ve written for launch.

I am obsessed with Doctor Who.

There I said it.

To put it mildly, I’ve seen every single episode of Doctor Who in chronological order. For the initiated, that’s over 825 episodes, spanning more than 50 years, and includes 97 lost episodes, 97 lost episodes that have been faithfully recreated by fans using the original audio, tele-snaps, found footage and, if I’m not mistaken, a bit of string.

So when I say I’m obsessed with Doctor Who, that might be a bit of an understatement.

DW-WPHL_Monday-656I was first introduced to the good Doctor back in 1973. I was fortunate enough to grow up in Philadelphia, meaning I was privy to one of the first airings of Doctor Who in the United States. So unlike most of my contemporaries who first encountered “that guy with a scarf”, my first Doctor was the sartorially resplendent Jon Pertwee (or Jan Pertwee as the Philadelphia Inquirer so joyously announced) But more than just the Doctor, I was introduced to the brilliant Roger Delgado as the Master, the delightful Katy Manning as Jo Grant, and the legendary Nicholas Courtney as the Brigadier (“Five rounds rapid!”). But it was Jo Grant who struck me at a young age. At first a clumsy companion berated by the Doctor, she eventually blossomed into the hero of The Daemons, literally saving the Doctor’s life (spoilers!). A heroic woman in the ’70s. How cool was that?

The 10th anniversary special, The Three Doctors, however, was what turned my passing enjoyment into a lifelong obsession. It was in that serial where I learned that TWO other actors had played the eponymous role before my beloved Jan Pertwee, courtesy of something called regeneration. At that moment, a sacred quest was placed in front of me. A bucket list item for my future self. To watch every episode of Doctor Who in chronological order. A quixotic quest to be sure for I was oblivious that the BBC had lost, at that point, over 150 episodes of the series, wiped, erased and junked due to shortsighted bureaucratic policies.

Back in those halcyon days, I assumed Doctor Who was simply a rollicking good British adventure series. But looking back, I realize there were deeper currents at work.

While now I am openly transgender, back then I hid my inner desires, fueled by my shame over my inner self. I was supposed to be a boy, struggling with wanting to be a girl, even at the tender age of eight. But the Doctor, he reveled in his differentness. He was a hero. And better yet, as a Time Lord, he regenerated. New body, new personality, but still the same person. How I yearned to experience my own regeneration, hoping my new body would match the person I was inside.

And as the show has grown, so have I. Its message of inclusion inspires me, it’s embracing of possibilities clearly strikes a chord if you’ve perused the Possible Girls website. And for me, and I understand not everyone agrees, but for me, the Steven Moffat era has been one mind-blowing epiphany after another.

Matt Smith as the Eleventh Doctor was a revelation. Eleventh Hour, especially. The hyperactivity. The mind working faster than his mouth. The utter insanity. My kids stared at the television screen in astonishment. A madman with a box. That was me. Of course the intervening years make it more likely that I am a madwoman with a box, but that phrasing, I fear, be dragons.

And then there was Impossible Girl. Oswin Oswald in the far future, Clara Oswin Oswald in the Victorian past, and finally Clara Oswald in the present, someone who shouldn’t exist, but does. These episodes aired while I was accepting who I was, who I am, when my transition became inevitable. And a life I thought impossible since age eight, was now reality. I was Impossible Girl, a concept, I joyfully embraced, and frankly one that led to this site and its name.

Not only has the series featured a transgender actor, but it also proved that gender is not what defines us. Take the wonderful villain Missy who proved that Time Lords can regenerate into Time Ladies. Yup, my favorite villain from the 1970s has now become my favorite villain of the 21st century. The Master has become the Mistress, and I finally regenerated into the person I am today. Still me, but different. And to mix fandoms, 20% cooler.

Doctor Who is about possibilities, all possibilities. And that message is one I not only embrace, but embody in mind, body, and hopefully, possiblegirls.com.

Image via BroaDWcast/Gallifreybase.com

Why Possible Girls

2016 May 28
by jen

I recently began working on a passion project, Possible Girls, a geek culture website about possibilities, dedicated to women and trans women, geeks and nerds and fangirls of all ages and all backgrounds. As I ponder, how I when to roll this site out, I figured I’d share some of the articles I’ve written for launch.

Charles Foster Kane printed his declaration of principles on the front page of the New York Daily Inquirer. I don’t feel the need to be so dramatic, but I would like to share with you why I founded Possible Girls.

Like most things in life, we start with a story. And with secrets.

I grew up with two secrets. The first was that I stuttered. The second was that I was transgender. The stuttering I learned to hide, the gender dysphoria I simply denied. That was a box I never was going to open.

So speaking fluently and accepting who I was, living as who I was, that was impossible. Quite literally as impossible for me as living on the moon.

But fast forward to today and I now have full fluency. So much so that no one can shut me up. Seriously. Don’t even try. And not only have I accepted that I’m transgender, but I’ve been living as a trans woman coming on two years, living that life that was so impossible not so long ago and waking up every morning with a lopsided grin, thankful for all the people in my life who have so openly and warmly accepted me for who I am.

Hence my nickname, Impossible Girl.

I share this because one night not long ago, I awoke not with a lopsided grin but with an inspiring thought. So achingly clear, I had to pace around my apartment in the middle of the night and ponder the possibilities, lest I lose the idea by morning. The next few hours I brainstormed as I do on my crêpe-papered A Beautiful Mind wall, and when the sun arose, I knew I had hit upon something.

Possible Girls.

A site dedicated to what is possible. For women and trans women. For geeks and nerds and fangirls of all ages, all backgrounds. About endless possibilities in life and in the worlds of fiction that bind so many of us together.

But it’s also about being relentlessly positive and finding the joy in life and in our obsessions. Viewing the glass half full and understanding that we are all unique and special and capable of amazing things. For as long as we believe in ourselves, nothing is impossible. Take it from someone who experienced that epiphany in a Dr.-Kübler-Rossian moment of clarity, seeing life in a way that simply could not be unseen.

TL:DR: A site about inspiring and, hopefully, empowering women and transwomen. Showing what is possible, one inspirational story at a time: women and trans women directors, writers, artists, doctors, scientists, teachers, and mentors. Together making a difference in the world, one girl at time. Because in the end, we are all possible girls.

A quixotic quest perhaps, but one most definitely worth pursuing.

It’s 5 O’Clock Somewhere: Hussong’s Cantina

2016 February 16
by jen

In early 2016, I launched the Margaritaville Blog and newsletter, Postcards from Margaritaville, for Margaritaville.com. As is my style, I wrote many of the early posts as examples of what their content approach and voice should be: light, fun and worthy of being shared from a barstool while sipping a margarita. This is the inaugural post for the It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere franchise.

It sounds like a story out of legend. And who knows, it might even be true.

We begin our tale in Germany, 1888, where Johann Hussong decides to immigrate to the United States. By the following year, a duly Americanized “John” Hussong is lured south of the border, the Mexican border, by the prospect of gold. Two more years pass, and John settles down Ensenada to tend to an injured friend at the only bar in town, Meiggs Bar.

Now this is where our tale becomes a legend. Literally two days after settling in, the owner of the bar attacks his wife with an ax. She skedaddles to California, and after a brief siesta in jail, Meiggs asks Hussong to tend the bar while he searches for his wife. Neither Meiggs nor his wife ever return.

Hussong runs this bar for a year and purchases the building across the street for his own place. John Hussong Bar. No ambiguity there. And that bar is still operating today at the same location.

And you know what? That’s not even the best part of the story.

Fast forward another 50 years to 1941, and another German, Margarita Henkel, the daughter of the German ambassador, visits the cantina. Bartender Don Carlos Orozco offers her a new concoction he’s been working on — equal parts tequila, lime, and a Mexican orange liqueur Controy (known as Naranja north of the border), served over ice in a salt-rimmed glass. The name of that drink? You guessed it. The Margarita.

Little has changed in that quaint cantina since 1941. Or 1891 for that matter. John Hussong Bar has become John Hussong’s Cantina. Maybe a little more neon. And a second location in Las Vegas. But aside from that, it essentially the same place Johann opened over a hundred years ago while in search of gold.

Is the legend true? Honestly, we don’t think it matters. Because we’re all pretty happy with the treasure that got left behind, the margarita.

Caribbean Critters: Potcake Dogs of Turks and Caicos

2016 February 2
by jen

In early 2016, I launched the Margaritaville Blog and newsletter, Postcards from Margaritaville, for Margaritaville.com. As is my style, I wrote many of the early posts as examples of what their content approach and voice should be: light, fun and worthy of being shared from a barstool while sipping a margarita. This is the inaugural post for the Caribbean Critters franchise.

When we first heard about Potcake dogs, our first thought was puppies! Potcake puppies. And that led to an inevitable discussion of where we could find these adorable critters. Local toy store? Amazon exclusive? You get the drift.

But we were wrong. These canines are indigenous to Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas. They get their amazing name from the Bahamian term for the congealed rice and peas mixture from the bottom of cooking pots that locals fed the island dogs. Hence Potcake dogs.

The history of this unique breed stems from the blend of dogs introduced to the islands. Start with the pups of the Arawak (who brought us the hammock — the Arawak, not the pups), throw in some tall-ship terriers, and a pinch of Loyalist Tory dogs (the dogs, not the Tories) from the American Revolution, and you get a sense of their heritage. With more breeds arriving since then, you’ll understand why some folks toss around the phrase “potcake dynamic.”

Despite the mixed breed, Potcake dogs are recognized as a dog breed in both Turks and Caicos, and the Bahamas, though the Bahamians prefer the term Royal Bahamian Potcake. If you ask us, Potcake dog is good enough for us.

Although their appearances vary, Potcake dogs generally have smooth coats, cocked ears, and long faces. And long faces won’t work on us. Even if they are adorable.

Sadly, overpopulation of these dogs has led to some heartbreaking conditions. Homeless Potcakes and, well, things we won’t talk about because they’ve already tugged on our heartstrings.

But there is good news on that front. In 2005, Turks and Caicos-based rescue organization Potcake Place became a registered charity. And after running out of families to adopt to on the local islands, volunteers started connecting with potential adopters through the Potcake Place website (www.potcakeplace.com) and Facebook page. Puppies are vaccinated and sent on airlifts free of charge to adopters.

There is no charge for the pups, but they do ask for and appreciate a donation that will help cover vaccines and allow them to bring more pups into care. Additionally, the airlines charge anywhere between $60 and $200 USD for the pup to travel in the cabin once a volunteer courier has been found to bring your Potcake pup to your local airport.

How cool is that? Looks like someone around here might be getting a Potcake puppy as an office dog. And those long faces have nothing to do with it.

If long puppy faces work on you, make sure to check out Potcake Place on the web and visit their Facebook page with more Potcake puppy cuteness than we can bear.

Now to see if there’s anything to that Potcake cat rumor…

Adventures of an Impossible Girl, Day 27: Mint Juleps

2015 October 19
by jen

I came out as transgender in the fall of 2014 and began chronicling my experience first in a blog, then in a podcast. This is one of the more talked about posts that I wrote. If you want to see all of my posts and podcasts, please visit adventuresintransgendering.com or click to the first post here.

With New York City mostly clued into my transgendering, it’s time to turn my attention closer to home and begin the coming out process all over again.

But while New York City has been pretty open armed about this, I’m more than a little nervous about the Maryland/Virginia crowd on a few counts.

One, this region has known me for a long time. Well over 20 years. So I’ve had a long history with this circle of friends as a guy. And most definitely as a guy’s guy. A father. A husband. Football fanatic. So this gender revelation might take a little more time than I’d like to be filed, stamped, indexed and accepted.

Two, this circle tends to be a little more… well… judgy judge.

So with renewed apprehension, I invite my first Maryland/Virginia friend over for a night of college football, food and “the latest news.”

He and I have been extraordinarily close friends over the years, but because of… shall we say, a misunderstanding… our friendship is not nearly as close as it once was. We’re still friends, still speak amiably, but that bond of special friendship, that “Special Relationship” Neil Burnside speaks of in The Sandbaggers, is no longer there.

So you can imagine the raw mileage of pacing I achieve in the house before he arrives. I guess it’s a good thing I have hardwood floors ’cause there’d be a damn groove in the carpet by now.

He arrives a little before the start of the Notre Dame-Florida St. game, and I make some of my famous feta salsa as we settle in. I then tell him I have some news to share. But glancing at the TV, I realize I don’t have enough time to complete my story before kickoff.

“But… it’s going to have to wait until halftime.”

He shoots me a good-naturedly, are-you-serious look. I can’t help but laugh. “For the record,” I add, hoping to recover just a bit, “not gay, not dying of cancer. You can knock those two off the list.”

Cue awkward pause. <sigh> Yeah, definitely not my best moment.

The first half of the game comes to a close over an hour later with Notre Dame up 17-10, and I figure that between halftime and my TIVO, I got a good 45 minutes to get through my story.

Now let me be clear. He has been extraordinarily patient with me. If the shoe were on the other foot, I’d probably have shown my traditional patience… and told him, fuck the game, tell me what’s going on.

I lean into the deep breathing I mastered on my initial coming outs and explain first my move to New York, then the legacy of my stuttering, and the finally acceptance of — tada! — my transgendering.

Much to my surprise, he takes it in stride, very much in stride and with a smile, tells me I seem happier than he’s seen me in ages. And he’s happy for me, adding, “If you don’t mind my saying, I’m proud of you.”

I don’t mind at all. It’s actually kinda cool. He smiles again and explains his fairly nonplussed reaction by relating that he grew up, almost literally, in the theater and saw all kinds of lifestyle and wardrobe choices. Lifestyle and wardrobe choices that were wholeheartedly accepted by the theater community.

We spend the next hour talking about my decision, my state of mind, my wardrobe choices and ignore the game that was the pretext for the evening, at least until Notre Dame gets majorly hosed by the refs at the end of the game.

But it is at this point that in his effort to state emphatically that he doesn’t care how I dress, he says something that sets my hackles on end, or whatever it is that hackles do.

“I don’t care if you’re in the kitchen making mint juleps, you’re still my friend.”

And this is what goes through my mind…

Mint juleps? Seriously? As in the Kentucky Derby? Is that what he thinks this is about? That I waltz around the house in a Southern ball gown with an enormous slanted hat sipping mint freakin’ juleps?

I mean, I know he means well. I know he means really well, but this, for some reason, really freakin’ bothers me.

And heavens knows I’m not prone to overreacting.

Okay, for those of you not in the know, that is what we like to call sarcasm. To be honest, at times I think I’m living in a game of “What Are You Trying to Say?” fromWhose Line Is It Anyway? And if that is too obscure a reference, since obscure references are how I roll, I suggest you watch the short skit for yourself on YouTube here.

So yeah. It’s probably me.

That said, the evening ends pleasantly enough, if not triumphantly enough for the Fighting Irish, and we part closer friends than when we started tonight. But after he leaves, I park myself in a lawn chair in my backyard and stare at the stars.

Why can’t I shake the mint juleps comment? I mean, this went better than I could have imagined. Way better. He was more supportive than I had ever hoped. I should be enjoying yet another psychological high, but I’m not. I can’t stop dwelling on “mint juleps.”

Maybe it’s the self-loathing inherent in being writer, that part of me who endlessly ignores the good reviews and focuses only on the bad. Because to tell the truth, maybe those Kentucky Derby hats aren’t so bad.

Adventures of an Impossible Girl, Day 28: What Box Can I Put You In?

2014 October 20
by jen

I came out as transgender in the fall of 2014 and began chronicling my experience first in a blog, then in a podcast. This is one of the more talked about posts that I wrote. If you want to see all of my posts and podcasts, please visit adventuresintransgendering.com or click to the first post here.

Another day, another coming out party.

But as this particular party could be construed by some as contentious, let me skip the usual personal details and simply say, another longtime friend from the area.

We now join our regularly scheduled post already in progress…

I nonchalantly ask if he’d care to head out to the backyard as I have some news to share. Okay, maybe not exactly nonchalantly, but it’s about as nonchalant as I can get under the circumstances.

We settle into the chairs on my back patio, or more accurately, he sits and I pace across the concrete slab that doubles as my back patio.

I can see the anticipation in his eyes. He’s got a secret girlfriend. He’s getting married. He’s won the lottery.

So I start with the easy part — I’m moving to New York City!

Awkward pause.

And… “Well that sucks. I’m never gonna get to see you anymore.”

Tap, tap, tap go my fingers against my folded arms. This is not off to an auspicious start.

I then slide into stuttering. Not actual stuttering, but the story of my stuttering.

Second awkward pause as he waits for the other shoe to drop.

Tap, tap, tap.

Deep sigh… and transgendered.

Silence. Deafening silence. I’m not sure awkward pauses are allowed to last this long.

“Are you sure you’re transgendered?”

Excuse me.

“Uh… yeah. Been thinking about it since I was eight years old. So… yes.”

“Are you sure it’s not a fetish?”

I know him well enough to understand that he means this in a clinical sense, not as a pejorative. But still…

I clear my throat, “Well, arousal has been part of this over the years, but not anymore. To be honest, I’m trying very hard not to put myself in a box. I’m trying to enjoy this journey of discovery and see where it leads.”

“Well, do you feel like a woman trapped in a man’s body?”

“Uh, not exactly…”

“Then you’re not transgendered.”

Tap, tap, tap. This is not going as I expected.

We continue this game of box for literally the next two hours, moving from fetish to crossdresser to transvestite. He taught a class in gender studies in the 1980s, while I’ve been dealing with gender issues firsthand since the 1970s.

Let me edit the conversation down to some of his more memorable quotes, oddly evoking a majority of the stages of death and dying…

•  Denial: “Just because you like to shave your legs or grow your nails long doesn’t mean you’re transgendered.”
•  Bargaining: “Why don’t you just wear stylish Italian men’s clothes?”
•  Depression: “I’m not going to be happy for you until you figure out your gender dysphoria. Until then, it’s your divorce all over again.”

He skips over Anger and finally moves on to what I can only call his version of Acceptance: “I don’t care what you wear. You’re still my friend.”

But it’s that laser focus on clothes and the unshakeable belief that I’m delusional that finally causes me snap. Since he’s not interested in Anger, I take up the mantle…

“Fine. You want me to talk about my body? Let’s talk about my body. Truth be told, I’ve never liked my body. I’ve never thought of myself as good looking. The only time I’ve ever liked it, been able to look at myself in the mirror is when it starts to look female. When I lose enough weight for my waist to narrow. When my chest can form cleavage. And you know what? Growing breasts doesn’t freak me out, okay? I actually like it. The concept of surgery? Doesn’t scare me. Is that what you want to hear from me?”

From his facial expression, I can tell this is making him uncomfortable.

Good. I think I made my point.

In an odd way, this is all good. I actively defended being transgendered for several hours. I’m not sure I could have done that even three weeks ago. And I feel more certain than ever that I am on the right path. I may not know the destination or what box I’m in, but for now, the journey is pretty awesome.

Now about those clothes from Italy…

Adventures of an Impossible Girl, Day 12: Scariest Day Ever, Part II

2014 October 4
by jen

I came out as transgender in the fall of 2014 and began chronicling my experience first in a blog, then in a podcast. This is one of the more talked about posts that I wrote. If you want to see all of my posts and podcasts, please visit adventuresintransgendering.com or click to the first post here.

As if my harrowing day in NYC was not enough, I decide to bite the bullet and tell my youngest son when I get home.

Age 17. Senior in high school. Interested art school. And a Brony.

I’m not good at waiting and I don’t want him to think my moodiness has anything to do with him.

So I come home and announce I have something to tell him. Something I’ve hidden from the world for 40 years. And no, I’m not gay.

In a flash, I get a vision of him not responding well. Of never wanting to see me again. Of being ashamed of me. And I lose it. In front of him.

I try to gather myself up, but tears are streaming down my face. Deep breath. REALLY deep breath.

So I dive into my sixth (!!!!!!) admission of the day (are you nuts!?!) and finally speak the words, I am transgendered.

I look up and he is staring at me expressionless. Nothing. Nada.

Not good. REALLY not good.

So I start to babble. This is me babbling. Oh wow have I have become good at babbling. Then I pause.

Wait a minute…

Do you know what the word “transgendered” means?

No.

Omigod, omigod, omigod. It’s second chance time. Like losing a football game on a missed kick, then seeing that glorious roughing the kicker flag.

Well, it’s kinda like Eddie Izzard (who we went to see in D.C. and ran into in London at the Monty Python Reunion show).

After more babbling, my son stops me and tells me he is totally fine with it. Really. His favorite Brony musician is transgendered. His Facebook picture is a photo of him with the same transgendered musician.

I am so relieved. I am so lucky. I am so blessed. He’s even intrigued to see me in “girl” mode.

We hug and while I can’t stop the tears, I can stop the fear, the panic, for at least one night.

But morning comes early to parents of high school students. 6:10 to be exact and while all is good between us, not all is good between my ears.

He leaves for school at 6:30 and within minutes I’m sobbing in the bathroom. Everything that I’ve been holding in from the previous day comes tumbling out. Hell, everything I’ve been holding in for 40 years.

I finally pull myself together, throw on my yoga pants and an eggplant long sleeve women’s ribbed tee over my bra. I tie my hair in a side ponytail, put on hoop earrings and my clogs, and appraise myself in the mirror. Not too shabby. A little cute, actually. Very understated. Very non-threatening (I hope).

3:00 comes and I hear the front door open, my son returning from school. I’m upstairs, so I give him a minute to get settled in, then text, Do you mind seeing girl mode?

Silence.

After five tortuous minutes, I add, Should I take that as a no? 😉

More silence. A LOT more silence

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Then my phone buzzes. Sorry, the cat sat on me and I feel asleep. I would not mind.

Deep breath. Deep breath.  Don’t hyperventilate. Deep breath.

I come down the stairs and my son is waiting for me. He breaks into a broad smile and says, Wow, you look really nice.

Either he means it or he’s going to do really well with women. Either way, score!

I spend the next few hours in girl mode. With someone I know. With someone I love. Who isn’t freaked out by it.

Life is good. Scary, but really, really good.

Adventures in Transgendering, Day 11: Scariest Day Ever

2014 October 3
by jen

I came out as transgender in the fall of 2014 and began chronicling my experience first in a blog, then in a podcast. This is one of the more talked about posts that I wrote. If you want to see all of my posts and podcasts, please visit adventuresintransgendering.com or click to the first post here.

Today is the day. The day I start telling people I’m transgendered.

And I am terrified.

It begins with an early morning breakfast with an old friend from my days at AOL. She was a coworker, a boss, then I replaced her as boss when she moved on to bigger and better things. But most importantly, she’s a friend. That said, I haven’t seen her in person in something like seven years.

We meet at a small cafe and she looks fantastic. We chit chat for a bit, and I tell her I have some news. Big news. I’m scared and grinning at the same time, but dive into my little spiel.

I take a deep breath and with a wry smile, spit out, I’m transgendered.

Her reaction brings tears to my eyes. She is beamingly happy for me. Thrilled. I think I’m going through a mini bout of post-traumatic stress after 40 years of secrets, shame and denial, but the happiness in her eyes, her unbridled joy, her love, carry me through the moment.

We talk about the joys of yoga pants, crying jags brought on by hormones, overly sensitive nipples. She asks me a million questions and it’s awesome. We are both SO overjoyed and I am SO relieved.

Welcome to the club, she says and I can’t remember the last time I was this happy. After all these years of shame, secrets and hiding, I’m being accepted for who I am. And it’s awesome.

An hour passes and we both need to run, but she gives me a long hug and tells me I’m going to have an amazing year. I smile through wet eyes and realize she’s right. I’ve been so caught up in THIS moment of revelation that I haven’t really thought about the future. Deep breath.

We part closer than when we met and I am over the moon.

But I have another morning meeting, this time with a guy I used to consult for. Another coffee does wonders for my nerves and as we catch up, he let’s me know he would love to work with me again.

I wasn’t planning on sharing my news, my big news. A few close friends and see where it goes.

But this is tear-off-the-band-aid time. Hell, it’s tear-off-the-damn-scab time.

So I tell him and he doesn’t blink. Literally. But he is genuinely happy for me and tells me the offer still stands. I try to explain that I’m still figuring things out, but I’m happy to show up to meetings in boy mode, this is business after all with paying clients — and he cuts me off.

No. You need to be who you are.

I am so blown away. I mean, first off, two-for-two. Second off, unconditional support I had never believed was possible.

I thank him from the bottom of my heart and make him promise to keep this under his hat for another week until I can tell his business partner who I’ve known for 15 years. I don’t want people finding out through the grapevine. I want to let them learn about my journey on my terms, so they can see how genuine I am at this crossroad in my life.

I mean, it’s not like a midlife crisis choice between being transgendered or, say, buying a motorcycle. Hmmmm… heels or a Harley? I’ll chose the heels.

We shake hands in a most manly way and I hop the subway back to my office, realizing suddenly I’m committed. I mean, I’ve really gone public with this. Screw band-aids and scabs. I’ve just jumped off the the damn cliff.

I get to my office and three of my coworkers are there. No time like the present, right?

It feels a little like a movie montage, only it’s my life…

Colleague #1: I’m still nervous. I’m still REALLY nervous as I’m about to tell someone with whom I’ve worked all-nighters for the past three years. I mean, I know he’ll be supportive. But I don’t know he’ll be supportive, if that makes sense. Despite having quit smoking some time ago, I ask if he wants to go out for a smoke. I do my little little dance, big breath, and tell him. He grins and tells me how happy he is for me. Big hug. Another deep breath. Hell, another cigarette. I go into more details, but I am starting to sense guys just want to be happy for me and move on to fantasy football. We end with a handshake, another manlyhandshake, and talk about our fantasy football starters for the week.

Colleague #2: One would think it’d be getting a bit easier by now, but it isn’t. My next reveal is with someone I hired a few years back, a woman. Again, I know she’ll be supportive, but there’s always that doubt in the back of your mind. As I gather up my courage, she tells me to take a deep breath. Yeah, definitely not easier. Deep breath and I come clean. She smiles broadly and tells me how fantastic it is that I’m coming out. We chat for a little more and she tells me if there is anything I ever need, just to ask. No handshake this time, but I’ll definitely be asking her for makeup tips in the future. She has some of the best makeup I’ve seen, period. #jealous

Colleague #3: One more and I’m done with NYC for the day. Maybe because we haven’t worked together for all that long, this one is a little easier. Again, he takes it in stride. Is very happy for me. We share a few personal details on life struggles. Handshake. Fantasy football.

Five for five. Not too shabby. But all I want to do is to crawl into the bathroom and cry. I am SO emotionally spent. I decide to head home early, thank everyone for their wonderful support and make a beeline to the train back to Maryland.

Once on the train, I realize I can’t break down with a person sitting next to me. And Amtrak bathrooms do not good crying chambers make. I finally get back to my car and dissolve into tears. There is a mixture of a) have you lost your freakin’ mind! b) you have the best friends EVER! c) have you lost your FREAKIN’ mind! and d) you can do this.

I drive home and realize I have one more person to tell tonight. My 17-year-old son.

But let’s leave THAT little bit of terror for tomorrow.