Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Finally, A Smile

We stopped at the pub after doing a wee bit of shopping. When we entered we saw someone we hadn't seen for quite a while. We've not actually been friends, but we've been in the same circles, knew the same people, and, on the occasion we ran into each other, it's always been friendly. So we took the table next to him, said 'hello' and bought him a beer as he was nearly done the one he was drinking.

Bars, or the environment of bars, make it fairly easy to fall into conversation with someone. We all caught up on what we were doing, where we'd been and how we were feeling about the weather. He briefly, when chatting, mentioned the name of someone from our long ago past. We had very much lost touch with him, but often wondered whatever happened to him.

We all reminisced about how, in the past, the fellow from the long ago past, was wild and witty and quite wicked. In fact, he had a brutal sense of sarcasm and could leave a scar on someone's self esteem at 50 paces. Joe and I had been in his wider circle for a long time but we began to pull away because, while we could see much good in him, he became increasingly more angry. It was hard to see where the anger came from, it was hard to understand his need to tear others down ... life had given him so much. Over time, we simply saw him less and less.

And then, not at all.

We'd hear about him, of course, from mutual friends. Where he was working. How he was doing. Who he'd skewered with words and wit. So many people wanted to like the part of him, that we could all see, was lovely and gentle and kind. But, whoa, that inner anger, inner unhappiness - it was hard to get by.

Then we heard about him no more.

No one we knew saw him.

But we still thought about him..

So when we ran into someone in the bar that brought up his name, we were beyond surprised. Our bar friend started to whip through pictures on his phone saying, 'You've got to see a picture, you've just got to see a picture.' Then he found it and said, "Trust me, you're not going to recognize him."

He handed the phone to me first.

The picture was of a woman, quite a beautiful woman. I would not have recognized the person I knew. Not because of the dress, or the breasts, or the hair, or the make up ... I wouldn't have recognized him because I realized, when looking at the picture, that this may be the first time I saw a genuine smile on her face. She seemed happy. Not just 'taking a picture' happy, down deep, bone deep, happy.

Inside I was bursting with joy for her.

He had told no one about his inner conflict or unhappiness.

But now, she is the woman she was meant to be.

And I could tell.

Because of one helluva smile.


Utter Randomness said...

I'm a little uncomfortable with your use of he/his after you reach the part of the story where you find out about her transition.

Dave Hingsburger said...

Utter Randomness, thanks for the feedback, I was trying to write about past and present and trying to get it all right. I've edited a bit after your feedback and hope I got close to how it should be. Thanks again.

Anonymous said...

Dave, thank you for being so quick to fix your use of pronouns, but they're still not quite right -- "she" and "her" should be used exclusively after revealing she's a woman, even when you're referring to her past. After all, that's the point of the story -- she was so unhappy in the past when she was living as a man because she wasn't really a man -- so why would you refer to her as a man?

wendy said...

Amen to living the life we know is right, is the correct expression of who we truly are. It can be a rough road that gets us there but it's always worth the trip.

Anonymous said...

I find it hard to understand how we are supposed to accept that we are born the way we are if we have a disability but not accept the way we are born if we don't like our sex. We work so hard to be accepted the way we are, the way we were made - yet when it comes to sexuality, we are "allowed" to change it to suit us. It is confusing to me. If I applied the same principle to changing the way someone is by artificial implants or insisting on an exo-suit, folks would be (rightly) up in arms. Why is this ok? Who are we to change how we were made? Do you think the snide remarks have stopped, or just more accepted because she is now in female form? Our character comes from within not from without. It appears like an excuse for bad behaviour.

Utter Randomness said...

Anonymous: who are you to judge? Who are you to decide who gets to be happy? What does it even matter to you? How does other people transitioning affect you in any way?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous 3:58

I agree--it's incredibly difficult to accept things when we just don't understand them. Understanding is so often the first real step towards acceptance.

But sometimes we must consciously choose acceptance without the personal comfort of understanding.

Because I cannot know the heart or mind of another as well as they know their own heart and mind, I must accept that what they tell me is their truth.

Acceptance costs nothing, and offers everything.


Anonymous said...

Anon: You said, "If I applied the same principle to changing the way someone is by artificial implants or insisting on an exo-suit, folks would be (rightly) up in arms."

In that case, people would indeed be right to be up in arms, but here is why: because YOU changed SOMEONE ELSE. Nobody has any right to force others to change. But, as long as we aren't hurting anyone, we all have a right to live our OWN lives, and exist in our OWN bodies, however we choose.

Anonymous said...

I forgot to address this in my previous comment: "Do you think the snide remarks have stopped, or just more accepted because she is now in female form? Our character comes from within not from without. It appears like an excuse for bad behaviour."

I think Anon is misinterpreting the point of the story. If I understand correctly, Anon seems to think that this woman transitioned so she could "get away" with being sarcastic and angry, because apparently sarcasm is more socially acceptable coming from women. Ignoring that this stereotype is wrong anyway (women tend to get punished more for being assertive and sarcastic than men do), this is rarely, if ever, the sort of motivation trans people have for transitioning. They transition because they're unhappy living as their assigned-at-birth sex, and that unhappiness is likely why she was so sarcastic and angry when she was living as a man. In other words, transitioning was to cure her anger, not an excuse to continue it.

Ettina said...


There are a couple important differences.

Firstly, many people born with 'birth defects' are surgically altered not by their own choice, but based on their parents' desires. This is more equivalent to how intersexed people are treated, and intersexed people generally recommend you leave the child's genitals unchanged (as long as they work for peeing and such) until they're old enough to decide for themselves if they want surgery.

Secondly, trans people don't transition because of buying into gender stereotypes or wanting to get away with stuff or whatever. For example, a gay man won't transition just so he can love a man without being subjected to homophobia. Transgender people feel a deep sense of 'wrongness' about their bodies, and it literally causes them emotional pain every time they're reminded that their body isn't the gender they feel inside. It's hard for us cissexuals to understand, because it's nothing like the normal body image problems that many people have over being fat or having pimples or whatever. If there were no gender roles and people could request whatever pronouns they liked without any judgement, many trans people would still transition, because their body causes them emotional pain regardless of anyone's attitudes.

Molly said...

Yay for being our true selves.