Last weekend, my sis and I traveled up the road to attend a Fourth of July Cookout at Codille’s home. This was to be my first time interacting up close with a large group of people as the only CD/TG person (well the only one who was dressed and obvious to everyone-Codille isn’t “out” to everyone and thus wasn’t dressed). The guests were friends and family of Codille and the only ones I knew were Codille, and her wife and daughter (whom I had met on last summer’s DC visit to the National Art Museum). The remaining 55-60 folks would be meeting me for the first time and Codille introduced me as Cyn to everyone (after having asked me what I preferred). My voice is definitely a giveaway to my birth gender, so it was obvious to all despite my being fully dressed. My outfit was dictated by the weather and the fact that we would be playing volleyball. I wore a fitted long tunic top over red, white, and blue capri leggings and white low wedge sandals which I traded for sneakers once the volleyball began.
I won’t bore you with a blow by blow of the whole evening, but it was a blast and everyone was super nice to me. I was treated as I appeared and enjoyed many great conversations. When I first pulled up I was a tad nervous as I didn’t know what to expect. I knew Codille and her family and my sis were there and had my back and I had no fear of physical danger, but I was a little worried about what people would say to me as I was introduced. It turned out I was worried for nothing as everyone was extremely gracious. At first I sat with my sister apart from others and just watched, but then I thought “hey I was invited here, too, just like they were and had every right to have just as much fun” So I walked over to some folks and joined in the conversations. No one asked about my gender issues or presentation,-we just talked about families, current events. Later on, they asked who wanted to play more volleyball, so I switched my sandals for “tennies”, put my hair up in a ponytail and headed to the court. Now I’ve had some issues with my leg recently that has hobbled me a bit, but I didn’t let that stop me from doing my best. I didn’t take it personally when I was one of the last three players picked when choosing teams (along with two other girls). After all I was used to that since I was always a small kid who had to prove myself til people watched me play. In the end, I played middle of the pack level-better than some but worse than others-especially the “kids” in their early 20s!
After it got too dark, we put the chairs in a circle and had several hours of conversations-some with everyone, others in small groups. And as much as I enjoy and cherish our chatroom here and helping others learn about themselves and feel comfortable talking about our gender issues and how they affect our lives, it was nice to be part of a group talking about life in general. I stopped thinking about being Cyn and just expressed my thoughts and feelings as a human being. After all, though we always know that our gender issues are an important part of us, they are just that-a PART of us not the entirety of our lives. I don’t know about others but that was to me a profound realization.
As the clock advanced to the wee hours of the morning, the party wound down. This was followed by a wonderful few hours of chatting with Codille (where we DID talk about my own gender issues as well as other subjects), then sis and I retired to our tent(between 4-5 am) where we slept under the stars. Sunday morning, we enjoyed breakfast and I wore my pale blue floral sundress. We drove home and talked about how much fun we had.
I guess the coolest part to me was that it was just like many other cookouts I’ve been to. The focus was on fun and fellowship not on what I was wearing or how I was presenting. I actually spent much of the time not thinking about how I was dressed (except to be sure nothing was showing-LOL). It was enlightening to realize that many people (including all I encountered there) will treat you as “normal” (so to speak) if you behave as though you are. Believing in yourself and that you deserve respect as does any other human being is a pre requisite to having others accept you. After all if you are ashamed of who you are, then why would others feel any differently about you?
So my advice to you is to be proud of who you are and let that self-respect shine through your behavior. Remember it’s the person you are inside and that you show the world that makes people want to be around you, not the shell that you inhabit.
Thank you Codille for giving me the chance to re-learn that lesson last weekend!
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