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Letter To TGF: What If?

| Feb 11, 2008
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Dear TGF,

I joined the TGForum about a month ago and seeing all the wonderful individuals made me think of something that happened in my life years ago:

We all have had moments in our lives were a decision we made changed our entire life. I had one of those moments while I was in college and still wonder —What if? It was 1970 and I was completing my first year of college when I met her in chemistry class. It was a large lecture session, about 400, but I picked her out. She was tall and slender, her auburn hair pulled up on her head and a very radiant smile. I was shy at that time so it took me over two weeks to finally work up the nerve to speak to her. Her name was Joann and during the conversation she stated she had a huge problem with parking. I told her if she didn’t mind getting to class about a half hour early I knew where she could park closer to class and for free. That advice started something great. The lecture session of the class was only twice a week, but the next session she was there and very happy with the parking. We walked together to class and back to the cars talking the whole time. We went to lunch the next week and to a campus concert the week after that. Like I stated before I was shy and finally did asks her out on the weekend. She said she couldn’t go because she had to help her mother out at the store she owned. I said maybe some other time and she quickly responded “yes”.

I found myself getting to college earlier each day and so did Joann. We would met and hold a parking spot until the other would show up. Then I would go to her car, her and I would talk until we had to run to class to make it on time. I asked her to go out again. She gave me a big hug and again said she couldn’t because she had to work at the store. I was beginning to think that friends was all she wanted to be.

The semester went fast and suddenly it was the last week of class. This time as we walked back to the cars she was very quiet. I knew something was wrong. She asked me to get into her car for a minute. I sat down and she said there was something she had to tell me. I figured it was goodbye. She said that she really needed a hug before she told me. We hugged for while then she pulled back. She then asked me question I was not prepared to answer. She asked, “Do you ever wear women’s clothes?” How did she know? I had never told anyone. I felt my face turning red and wanted to get out. She grabbed my arm and said “It’s OK, I felt your bra once when I hugged you”. I still didn’t know how to react. Then she said, “So do I, please listen”. I turned and looked at her she was trembling. She said that the last couple weeks were the best time of her life so she had to let me know that she “was born a boy”. My head was spinning but I then knew that it was her that was really hurting. I asked how did she become so beautiful. She gave me a big hug and started to tell her story.

She had been raised by her mother and knew very early that she wasn’t meant to be a boy. The store she worked at was her mother’s pharmacy. Her mother was the pharmacist and started helping her when she was about 14 with hormones. The next big step was at 17 her mother found a doctor that would castrate her. She looked at me and said after that she felt that she was truly a women. She stopped talking and just stared at me. I was feeling like this was all a dream and couldn’t really be happening. She said that she knew it’s a lot to take in but there’s is more. She said that her mother was selling the store and the two of them were moving to California in about a month. I looked at her and said, “Why tell me all this if you are just leaving?” Without any hesitation she said “Because I want you to come with me”. She said her mother was OK with me coming with them and even said I could live with them. Her mother was buying another store and even said the both of us could work there while we finished college. She then said that she would see me tomorrow so I would have some time to think about it. She gave me a hug and asked me to get out of her car. I did and she drove off with a smile on her face and a tear in her eye.

That night was a long one, thoughts of all kinds were spinning in my head. I got there early and so did she. She came back to my car and got in a gave me a hug. She asked if I had made a decision or needed more time. I leaned forward and gave her a long hug. When I pulled back I noticed her head was tilted, eyes closed, her auburn hair pulled back and her pink lips were just slightly parted. God she was beautiful but I couldn’t kiss her and sat back. She opened her eyes and just stared out the window. She opened the door and said I guess I you have made your decision and ran back to her car. I sat there for a moment and went to get out when she took off in her car. I never saw her again.

I tried to find her but in 1970, with no Internet it was impossible. I ended up throwing all my “items” away. A year later dropped out of college and went into the trades. I try to be as macho I could, got married and had kids. I went though a drinking period, got another macho job. I stopped drinking and started working out to bulk up again to try to make my inner feelings go away. I would buy items and would end up throwing them all away. Don’t get the wrong idea there was lots of good times too.

Here I am almost 40 years later, retired, grandkids, still with my CD tolerant wife, and still I think of Joann often. I wonder what might of been if I would have said “yes”. What if?

Carolyn Kay

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About the Author ()

Angela Gardner is a founding member of The Renaissance Transgender Assoc., Inc., former editor of its newsletter and magazine, Transgender Community News. She was the Diva of Dish for TGF in the late 1990s and Editor of LadyLike magazine until its untimely demise. She has appeared in film and television shows portraying TG characters, as well as representing Renaissance on numerous talk shows.

Comments (1)

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  1. says:


    That was a an astute piece of editing, choosing to publish that letter.


    I’ve written on and off for this e-publication for many years. But nothing I”ve ever done surpasses what you have done here in your straightforward letter. It is a wonderful example of “you can’t make this stuff up.”

    It is a wonderful deomonstration that if you just tell something like this is a simple, straightforward way, it can be incredibly powerful and moving. “The road not travelled” rumination is one of the great themes of personal writing. And no one has ever done it better here.

    Thank you so much for it.

    Alan Barrie
    Cheryl Ann “Cassie” Sanders

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