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Emerging from the Chrysalis

| Jul 5, 2021
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This was an abnormal, difficult past year for everyone. Almost certainly, we spent too much time separated from people we love, and isolated from places that we enjoy. Perhaps it was necessary to learn that life is about more than travel, technology, consumption and entertainment.

Thankfully, one can now anticipate the complete restoration of normal social conditions, if not of normal social behavior. In fact, observing some of the more bizarre usage habits that have mushroomed since 2020, I personally have never been happier to not own a cellphone.

As an “essential industry” employee according to the Pennsylvania commonwealth, I am already fully vaccinated. Having transitioned during Uncharted Time, I am completely emerging from the chrysalis, and continue what so far has been a very fulfilling and positive process. (Moths cocoon; upon emergence, they consume and destroy. Butterflies mature in a chrysalis; after they emerge, they produce.)

Although we presently remain offsite for work, the new position for which I was internally recruited last fall (i.e. after my re-debut) is going very well. Far from being hidden away to labor in solitude with a red stapler for company, I am instead actively and visually engaged with many departments and individuals. On one occasion earlier this year, my work was openly and personally praised during an online project kickoff meeting, where I was visible and at which several members of upper management were present. A positive impression is being made.

When the company had a socially distant retirement sendoff for a longtime colleague last summer, I attended in a casual sundress and sandals — perfectly appropriate for the season and the group. One coworker told me upon arrival that she had hoped I would come “dressed for the occasion”. Others mentioned that I looked very nice, compliments that I really appreciated and made certain to reciprocate. I was even told by one that she was glad to see me “coming out and being the best person I can be”!

In late winter, I finally was able to connect with my old high school’s LGBTQ group for a mentoring session. Although it was online and not in person as originally hoped, it still went very well. Wearing a burgundy, cowl-neck sweater with classic jewelry and makeup, I gave a brief introduction and overview, explained the process of my transition, and how my everyday life has progressed since then. I then fielded very thoughtful questions from the students, all of whom were interested, engaged and prepared. (And how time flies — I noticed some familiar last names from my own school days.)

Full bloom!

I was told afterward that they all really enjoyed speaking with me. One indicated that she was quite moved by my presentation, and “very thankful to see such a positive and inspiring representation” of the community. I was quite humbled by this — especially since that statement implies that these students have already seen what they consider examples to the contrary.

A few weeks later, fresh from a salon appointment, I stopped by the local mall, where I visited a major jewelry retailer and finally got my ears pierced! It was easy, quick and painless, and made me wish I had done it much sooner. For my starter set, I chose classic CZ studs, and purchased a pair of silver hoops for when I could change earrings six weeks later. And I’ve since added additional pairs to my collection!

When a new and very affordable fitness club in my neighborhood shopping center was preparing for its grand opening in early spring, I scheduled a tour of the facility a month in advance. The young lady who walked me through the club and its features was very gracious, and even showed me the workout areas reserved for women, a membership add-on option offered to female patrons — including to yours truly, who politely declined in favor of the perfectly adequate basic plan.

The signup process was easy and inexpensive, and I joined that day. (If only it had already been open for business then, when the harsh winter often discouraged me from taking regular afternoon and evening walks!) Upon its grand opening, I quickly became a recognized regular, happy to avail myself of more varied and intense fitness options.

Working out!

I attend workouts dressed in stylish, functional, brightly colored female athletic attire. With plentiful public locker space for handbags available in the main floor area, I choose not to have recourse to the locker rooms, rest rooms or showers. My presence has been quite favorably observed —particularly by the female staff, which has been wonderfully complementary and accommodating, even going so far as to politely inquire which pronouns I wished to be addressed by. I replied that I would leave that entirely to their discretion, and they have freely opted for feminine honorifics.

At church, our ladies group found it necessary under the prevailing conditions to adjust — or even cancel — some of our usual events and fundraisers. But we developed new ideas that proved to be very successful and fun. These will certainly continue, even after the return to normalcy. New members have become active, and it has been great getting to know and collaborate with them. Our seasonal bake sale (which included several of my own specialty items) was a huge winner.

Easter Sunday morning!

The Easter morning celebration was beautiful, reverent and well attended. Having been limited to livestreaming the 2020 Easter liturgy from a church closed to the public during the state shutdown, it was truly a joy this year to personally greet the risen Lord!

Sadly, I had to pass on our weekly ladies scripture gatherings this past year. After full workdays zooming for hours from my home desk, the evening online session format would have simply been too much screen time for me. (I presently wait until weekends to follow up on all but the most time-sensitive personal emails.) But I assured the group that I shall return, once in-person sessions resume.

On Easter Monday, I was scheduled for an inspection and maintenance appointment at the auto dealership service center that I have patronized for almost 30 years. On that cool and sunny morning, I made my long-delayed re-debut there — arriving in a boat neck ivory sweater, bootcut blue jeans, brown ankle boots, grey cinched-waist jacket, brown leather handbag, leopard print mask and pink spring manicure.

The entire staff were consummate professionals. My usual service desk representative greeted me as warmly as ever. The shuttle rides I received to and from my home during the labor were handled graciously, with the driver engaging me in polite conversation throughout. As always, the work was done well and on time. At checkout, I was happily assisted by the friendly young woman with whom I had spoken by phone when setting up my appointment.

I made certain to mail the staff a very pretty, handwritten greeting card later in the week, in which I thanked them for their service. I also said how glad I was that everyone is well, and that I looked forward to seeing them at my next appointment.

My wardrobe is now largely complete — I have appropriate styles for work, worship, the occasional date, and everyday casual. I closed the last few major gaps last year, including two statement cocktail rings (one opal and one diamond) bought at significant post-Christmas discounts. Even so, I actually saw my clothing expenses drop significantly in 2020, compared with prior years.

And what a difference longer hair, pierced ears, prettier eyeglasses, and seasonal nail colors make! The enhancement provided by these subtle differences has been significant. Even now that the mask is finally gone (Deo gratias), I am routinely addressed as “she”, “ma’am”, and occasionally even a very generous and flattering “miss”. I feel more confident and attractive in my appearance, and I receive many more casual compliments. It still holds true — when you smile and treat people with courtesy and respect, it is almost always reciprocated.

At home in every way!

I quite like what is now being presented to the public. Others seem to as well. There has been no awkwardness, not even among acquaintances who are still getting used to seeing version 2.0 on a regular basis. Moreover, I have continued to do things I’ve always done, and go places I’ve always gone. I have attempted to earn a reputation as a constant, generous and loyal individual who can be counted on in good times and bad. That will be remembered long afterward — not what clothes I wore.

Like the butterfly leaving the chrysalis (within which, according to Wikipedia, “growth and differentiation occur”), I am embracing a fully developed role. I eagerly anticipate the challenge and I look forward to being of service to one and all!

(Coming soon – the return to office life!)

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul, Transgender Opinion


About the Author ()

I am a project management professional in the greater Philadelphia area. I enjoy travel, domestic arts, reading and gardening. I am an active member of several ladies groups. I am a fan of 1970s & 80s hard rock, do not own a cell phone, and still have my high school football varsity letterman's jacket in my closet.

Comments (1)

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  1. Cynthia Frank says:

    I really miss the days when we were hated and despised.
    This testimonials sound like Ladies Home Journal.

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