I had a wonderful series of events happen this weekend. It marked more than just Mother’s Day, but also our son’s graduation from community college as a vet tech. We are so proud of him, the hours he has put into doing this and work at the same time. He still has his externship to perform where he works, but his graduation ceremony was on Saturday.
Not only is this a momentous occasion for our son, but it became some firsts for me as well. The graduation for ABTech was held in the Cellular One Civic Center, our family had been there 3 years previous to this for my wife’s graduation from ABTech (she is now in college, aiming for her Masters). At the time I wasn’t quite out as myself, I was out at home but not much anywhere else. So, the last time I was at the Civic Center, I was behind the mask, uncomfortable and not at all happy with spending four hours in a crowded room while my wife got her diploma. This time, this time was different. I spent the week before, worrying and frantic over what I would wear or how I would look for being in the Civic Center again. I worried that people would be rude, pointing and laughing or looks of disgust and denial of restrooms and all. You know, all the tropes of a transgender persons nightmares and very real possibilities.
I bought a conservative black midi dress on Amazon, it was sleeveless, of which I wasn’t happy but I liked the rest of the dress so I also purchased a black bolero jacket. The dress and the jacket came in the next day, but the dress was a bit larger size than I needed, but still fit alright. The main issue with the dress is it was much thicker than I wanted, it would be good for fall or for winter (with a jacket), but not good for us nearing summer and it was projected to be in the high 70’s. This temperature and the crowded building, as well as my overplanning imagination, I was going to be a sweaty mess in that dress. So I went back on Amazon, Rosegal, many other sites, trying to find another dress I liked. I landed on a wrap midi dress that was similar on several sites, I decided that Amazon was best as I could see photos and the reviews for it. I picked a purple wrap dress and it took several days to get in. When I was able to try it on, I was very happy. I felt it looked good on me, I felt comfortable in it and my family liked it better than the black dress. I still fretted about the upcoming weekend, all the issues I was planning on having, the weather which was now talking about dropping temperatures and thunderstorms, lots of rain. I was going to fret no matter what, I do that to myself, I over plan.
I took off Friday since I had to get routine blood work done for HRT, but before that, I had to do something else. I went to the courthouse to file my Letter of Intent for Name Change that morning. I had to go through the metal detector, putting my purse through the machine as four policemen stood on the other side. I had expected some reaction from them, some sign of “clocking” me. But one of them smiled at me as he helped me get my small purse out of the machine (the draping material kept it inside). He told me that the court wasn’t open just yet but someone would open the next door in a few minutes. I waited in the area for a few minutes, checking my phone, exchanging smiles with another woman who was also waiting for them to open. A woman opened the doors and smiled at us, I went in and found the clerk’s office. The office people were standing outside their offices, I suppose waiting to help someone. I came up to the clerk and she asked me if I needed help. I told her that I wanted to post a letter of intent for name change. She said as she looked at it, “Oh, you want to change your name back to your maiden name?” That question was wonderful for me, she saw me as exactly who I was, a woman trying to get a name change and that reason was possibly because I wanted my maiden name. I explained to her that I was posting for a different reason, she did not change demeanor, she told me it was no problem that I could return in 10 days and they would take it down when I did the rest of my paperwork. I was not “clocked” at all, I was accepted as myself. I went back to my truck and I sat there for a few minutes trying not to cry from happiness and relief. This is a small town, so I was expecting the worst, but I wasn’t really nervous when I went in. After the courthouse, I went to pick up a piece of paperwork for my name change, an Affidavit of Character from Jack at his workplace. I met him there in the rain and he handed me the signed and notarized paper. I hugged him and thanked him for doing the affidavit. Then I left to go for my blood work. Overall a great start to a wonderful weekend.
Saturday, I was oddly calm for what lay before me. I thought about why I was so calm, it wasn’t my planning, that only ever adds to my anxiety. I was calm because of two people in my social media. Two people who are self-possessed and at ease with themselves, who they are and fearless women. Role-models, they are who I look up to as women who happen to be trans, but never let it stop them. Allison and Polly, they don’t know each other I think, and they each have different outlooks, but they are both warriors, Amazons. They give me strength and even better a paradigm for healthy confidence, for that I am eternally grateful.
We took our time getting ready, because we knew it was going to be a Long Day™. We knew from experience that we had to be there two hours before the ceremony, as our son had to be there then and we didn’t want him to be alone. Then we had two and a half hours of ceremony, sitting on very hard and narrow seats in steep stadium seats. We were glad to do it, but knew that we had a long day ahead. I didn’t know I was in for a day that would bring me validation as well, that I can exist as who I am in society. I wore the purple wrap dress, but because it was colder that day than expected, I also wore the black bolero jacket and it looked fantastic. I wore black velvet ballet flats, I would have preferred heels but I didn’t want to break an ankle or tower over everyone in the place. I felt like I looked great, the reality may have been different, but I felt great. I drove us to the parking garage and we walked to the elevator to go down to the Civic Center level. As we waited for the elevator, this older woman asked if we were going to a wedding, that we (Wife and I) looked pretty. We smiled and said, “Thank You”. My spirits lifted as we went down in the elevator, as it turns out too many levels and had to go back up a few levels. A graduate in gown and cap and her mother and father got into the elevator with us going to the correct floor. We had a nice conversation with them, none of them gave me side-eye or even a double-take, none of the hyphenated bad words a trans woman wants to happen.
I had my first bag check done, it was simple and non-invasive probably because my purse is not much larger than a clutch. And we went inside the Civic Center. I was primed for noticing someone giving me the “clocking you” look. But nothing at all, in fact I was only given honest smiles and niceness. We took a program and went to settle into seats while our son went to do his thing. As we sat there, I was surprised to find myself completely calm and without any trace of anxiety. The place soon filled up, and people were still coming in as the commencement speech started. Then, the one thing I worried over before we left happened, I had to pee. I usually go through a lot of water, we have well water at the house and it is sweet and wonderful, but also my use of spironolactone necessitates being hydrated. That day, however, I had purposely restricted drinking water and peed before I left so that I wouldn’t put myself in the position of a possible need to use the bathroom. But there I was, needing to pee, and it was a full house with more people in the halls coming in. I told my wife I needed to go and then left for the bathroom. I had to go through a lot of people and a long walk in the main area to get to the bathroom. There was a policeman and several men standing outside the women’s room, the cop positioned there for protection and the men waiting on their wives or daughters to come out. I acknowledged that they were there, but I wasn’t nervous about it, just aware. I went into the bathroom, which had a few other women in the small crooked hall leading to the bathroom proper who were also waiting on daughters or wives or friends. Not one side look at me, just the assent to pass through the line because they were just waiting, not using. I went in and used the bathroom, flush and washed my hands. I put on a bit more tinted lip balm and then left for my seat. It was so casual and without issue that it took me until I sat down in my seat that this was the very first time in my life that I have used the proper restroom. Forty-Eight years have gone by and there I am finally getting to this odd accomplishment taken for granted by cis people. The enormity of it was tempered by this also being my first time in a dress in a crowded public setting. I was still there, completely at ease and wondering at that ease. The ceremony finished and we went home. I was glad to be out of those seats, but I was a bit sad to go home and not just be out in the world. This weekend was wonderful in so many ways and I feel very fortunate. Days like these will give me strength for the days ahead. I know that not every day will be as good and some will be bad, but I can look at these fine days and remember that better days still ahead to be lived through.
Mother’s day is today, we are spending it watching TV, eating stupid things like ice cream cake and playing with our pets including the chickens. A nice, easy day of just being the home-bodies we are. Enjoy the day and Happy Mothers day!