Dear Pandora and all,

I’ll own up to it, right up front. I am scum- or at least very politically incorrect. I’m one of those hated few at the top of your hierarchy (but remember, you put me there, I didn’t, and wouldn’t). My partner (who used to be my wife) and I hocked the house. San Francisco. Montreal. Lovely cities to look out of hospital rooms at. I like passing, and I mean high-level passing. Sitting- naked- on- the- edge- of- a- hot- tub- full- of- lesbians- who- don’t- know passing. I’m tall for a girl but not too tall, and very slender. My (unaugmented) breasts are small, but cute. I look great, in or out of clothes. The attention I attract on the street is for my long, curly hair,and my proud, purposeful athlete’s walk. Do ya hate me? Go ahead, it’s okay, most genetic women do too. Not many 47-year-olds look halfway decent in a bikini, and when I stand on the seawall and strip off my wetsuit after a surfing session, that’s what I’m wearing. I still surf with the same guys I surfed with “before,” too.

I do not hide. I am not in the closet. By choice. I transitioned, in plain sight, one day at a time, at one of those exclusive little New England white-clapboard boarding schools. The only lesbian transsexual school nurse in the known universe. Don’t tell me you can’t transition in your job! I’m out at my new job, too, working to help disabled adults stay out of nursing homes, with my “Same Struggle, Different Difference” t-shirt hanging in the entrance to my cubicle. Darlings, I’m out on classmates.com (“The kid who got called “faggot” all through high school was really a dyke all along. Who knew?”). I facilitate youth meetings for the local Outright. The only trans people I have no use for and won’t hang out with are the crossdressers who insist “I ain’t no faggot” when people accuse them of being queer. Hey, if you’re a queer, you’re my friend! If you’re a freak, sit with me!

I can’t figure out the straight trannies either, the ones who say,”I’m a woman now, I’m not a transsexual any more.” Huh? One day I was out shopping with a transwoman in very early transition, and she suddenly went into a tirade; “I can’t handle this men having sex with men or women having sex with women stuff- I was straight when I was a man, I’ll be straight when I’m a woman.” First, this has to be the most whacked-out I’ve ever heard. Second, she had about three friends on the entire earth right then: two transdykes, and her therapist, who’s just a plain ol’ garden variety lesbian.

So. Am I a woman? Am I a lesbian? Please, if you’ll tell me what those words mean, I can give you an answer! What’s important (to me, at least) is that I live as a woman, that I live as a lesbian. Passing is important to me because for the first time in my life, I finally do pass. High school days were dark and violent. In the years that followed, the stares, the double-takes, the names followed me. Growing a beard didn’t help. Little old ladies would stop while I was putting on my surf gear and ask me if I was a boy or a girl. I never figured out how to answer that! I quit getting hassled on the street the day I put a dress on, before hormones, before plastic surgery, even before electrolysis. This isn’t an act. THIS is me. THAT was an act.

‘Scuse me, gotta go dilate.

Blessings,
-Gail