Having just completed the crazy Transgender Primer thingy, and having seen one or two of my friends compile their histories into tidy little posts, I have decided to take a break and dash off my own 20-year history.
20 Years Ago: The year? 1988. The place? Troy, Ohio. I turned 13 that December, and puberty was kicking me in the groin with a steel-toed boot. I was thin for the one and only year of my post-baby life, having dropped all my baby fat via good old forced participation in organized sports, but confused and frightened not only by my own body, but by the difference in the way others treated me. Luckily, food still loved me. Sigh. Let’s see…I was three years into what would turn out to be a seven-year stint as a newspaper carrier, and my net income was the highest it would ever be, proportionately speaking, until I fell into my current job. My hair was short (not my idea), my clothes were loud and often featured patterns designed to blind the unwary (my idea), and I was burning all my birthday wishes and nightly prayers on “Hey, how about we straighten out this whole crazy “Why am I a boy, damn it?!?” thing?” “Other than that, I seem to recall thinking “Bush and Quayle? Sounds like a hunting magazine.”
10 Years Ago: By 1998, I was turning 23 and had endured the special kind of hell known as employment at The Evil Empire. I was working as the Graphic Artist for a company in nearby Piqua, no closer to coming out, but much closer to maxing out an elevator’s weight capacity. It was a heady and confusing time (no, wait, that’s my whole life). I’d just broken up with my first serious post-high school girlfriend, which was a great idea, as it turned out she was still married and all. Nine months later she had twins, which perhaps understandably set my heart into a gallop not normally seen outside of the Kentucky Derby, but luckily for me, she was apparently sleeping with a variety of people, and her offspring were red-haired, blue-eyed leprechaun babies (possibly changelings…no official verdict has ever been handed down, and the land of Fae won’t return my calls ever since I accidentally dropped an iron nail in the Faery National Bank. Picky picky!). Windows 98 was released, which prompted me to consider trading my distrust and resentment toward Microsoft in for some deluxe, full-chrome loathing. I lived alone, in the second of a series of crappy apartments scattered throughout Troy, my furniture so pathetically outdated that as I was moving in, teenagers driving by yelled “Look at the trash diggers!”, assuming I was not moving into the apartment, but instead boosted my furniture from someone’s front stoop just ahead of the end-of-month pickup by the city.
Five years ago: 2003 was a strange year for me. The preceding November, having graduated from art school and looking forward to becoming the Art Director at my then-employer, I was surprised to learn that I would be receiving a layoff rather than a promotion. Times were tough, and both my then-boss, aka The Stinkiest Man Alive, and myself were out of work, just like that. Happy Thanksgiving! In a desperate bid to flee, I gathered my meager savings and moved to Colombus, looking for work. However, I fell into the category of “You have too much experience…we can’t afford you.”/”You don’t have enough experience, come back when you do,” and after a year of struggling to make ends meet, I slunk back home, depressed but not defeated. I had come out to my friends and parents by this point, and tensions were high, my mother insisting (the Five Man Electrical Band having made a deep impression on her) that I could get a job if I would only cut my hair. Toward the end of the year, I enter into a relationship with Christy, about whom I will say naught but this: upon our breakup, faced with my persistent insistance that I would be transitioning, she boldly declared she would find herself a “real man, a good straight, Christian man…a man like Clay Aiken.” Man, I couldn’t wait for 2004.
Three years ago: 2005 found me working at my current position, fixing computers and helping people every day…I had a ton of friends, and I had come out to a lot, but not all, of them. I was losing weight, having finally started therapy, and although I’d made it clear to my parents that transition was inevitable, they were content to follow the Jackson family motto: Ignore it, and It’ll Go Away. I wasn’t dating anyone, having decided to deal with my own jumbled life before trying to involve innocent passersby, and I’d moved into my townhouse in the winter of ’04, having gone from lowly temp to lowly tech (the primary difference being the steadiness of the work, health insurance, and a big fat raise). My friend Becky and I founded the Super Fun Book Club of Fun-ness™ this year, and membership took off immediately. In November, my sweet angel of a neice, Arielle, was born – less than two years after her brother Ian – and I became an aunt for the second time. In December, I turned 30, and was surprised to find I actually had a plan – complete transition by 2010, the year we make contact. I mean, the year I turn 35. As 2005 drew to a close, I had a quiet word with HR, cluing them in on my, ahem, “situation,” and, having spoken with my shrink, decided to “full time” as a woman in 2006. Operation Claire was about to begin!
One year ago: Operation Claire was popular with the people, but there were those who looked upon it with a gleam of malice in their gimlet eyes, and strove mightily to smite me – by which I mean that, in the wake of my coming out, I suddenly found myself transferred to the middle of nowhere in an empty factory, far from any other people, for “security reasons” to protect the computers I worked on. Also, despite years of perfect reviews and the strong support of my customer base, there were suddenly “concerns” about my job performance, despite the fact that no mention of these concerns were ever mentioned until my reviews. It was during this year that I realized two things: I wasn’t happy pushing paper, far from the people I used to be able to help, and corporate America and I were not going to be buddies, EVER. So, I started working harder on the things that did (and do) matter to me: art, poetry and prose. I published my first children’s book with my friend and business partner, Mona…I entered and placed in a regional poetry contest, and I forced myself to buckle down and begin serious work on the novels I’m writing. I also began a relationship with a woman named Venessa, who was amazing and wonderful and brilliant and all of the things I never expected to find…unfortunately, she was also troubled and riddled with a variety of addictions, and we didn’t last.
Today: I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, including another childrens’ book, a sassy and fun line of t-shirts and accessories designed by my friend Laura and I, and a few other ideas that are still percolating in the twenty-cup carafe that is my enormous head. Operation Claire continues: I’m three months into my hormone regime, and two years into electrolysis. I’ve been living as a woman for over two years now, and my mental and physical health are not only improved, but still improving. The Super Fun Book Club of Fun-ness™ continues to thrive. My work continues at Ice Station Zebra, but age and an economy that’s tanking faster than a new CarrotTop movie are actually working in my favor as the dessicated corpses of my would-be vanquishers slide into the murky seas of retirement and, ahem, “voluntary reduction.” I’ve decided to seek creative and fullfilling employment within the company, and if I can’t find it there, then I’ll do what I’ve always done when someone’s told me I can’t have or do something: smile and nod, and then get it anyway.
Never understimate the power of persistance, kids.