The college reunion (technically, college dorm reunion) went well. I’m pretty sure it’s unusual for someone to return to an event like that in the midst of gender transition. I think we’re supposed to skip it, hide the transition, or wait until we’re finished and perfected before daring to make a new impression. I didn’t take any of those paths, and I think I’m stronger for it.
This is, after all, pretty close to the impression I’ll be making when I come out at work. In retrospect it makes a decent trial run with an audience inclined to be more forgiving. I would have liked to thank them all for that, but really it wasn’t that kind of moment. This event wasn’t about me, and thank god for that!
Really the thing that struck me about the whole event was everyone’s desire to normalize our interactions. There was very little talk about my transition. Surprisingly little. I’m pretty sure this was because people felt awkward bringing it up, but it made for a nicely normal experience. That’s not something I take for granted, and it’s something I really appreciate these days.
I’m under no illusions. I don’t pass flawlessly. I’m too tall. My weight doesn’t sit where it should. I spent too much time grinding male posture, gesture, and vocalisms into habit to overcome it all now.
But I don’t think I heard more than a couple slip-ups calling me by my old name the whole weekend – and they were immediately corrected. Pronouns were similarly respected. I know these aren’t easy mental adjustments to make, but it was nice to experience a group of people who cared enough to try. I’ve been working with my parents and other relatives for the better part of a year, and they’re still not there yet. This weekend gave me hope on that front.
But in a way I feel like I missed a chance to explain. I’m sure some of those attending resolved to smile and stay polite even though they couldn’t understand what all this transition stuff was about. “Smile this weekend,” they likely thought, “It’s only a couple of days after all. It doesn’t mean anything really.” I wish I could have spoken to those of that mindset. I didn’t really try at all. I couldn’t have had the kind of weekend I did if I had done so. But it does feel like a miss on my part.
I’m not sure I rekindled any lasting friendships. I have a sense that the weird factor overrode the strength of any reconnections. But at least people were polite enough not to act like it. When you’re young you damn this kind of thing as inauthentic. But at my age, I can appreciate the grace in that kind of polite interaction. After all, these were people who once meant much to me, and in some sense I meant something to them. No matter what happens now, the past holds true.
For me, more than anything, this weekend was about reclaiming my former life – the person I used to be – and connecting that to the person I’m becoming. In that respect, I’ll call the weekend a success. Any other positives are frosting on the cake.
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