There are rare challenging days. "Ladies" days. Days when the well-meaning waitress or dishwasher salesman will be confused by my man's slender frame and mistakenly ask how we "ladies" are doing, prompting him to shrivel in front of me like a dropped leaf. Usually, he says nothing. Unless it is date night, and we are having drinks and appetizers and we have dressed up in our Saturday finest—he in a jacket and tie—and the third or fourth "ladies" tips him into a concise but always mortifying rebuttal.
"Excuse me, but I'm a guy."
An apology usually follows. Which makes it even more awkward, because he doesn't want anyone to feel bad or sorry, he just wants to be seen the way he sees himself.
I think about this sometimes. How I would feel if I were called "sir" while I was on a date, wearing a dress and heels and cherry lipstick. How abnegating it would be to have the world look at you and decide, no matter how many signals you give, that you are something you are not.
There is this misbegotten notion that transmen and women are about playing dress-up and fooling people. But to be trans is to feel the truth so acutely you can't fake it. It is to be so consumed with the truth of who you are that you are willing to risk everything to inhabit it. To refuse to be what other people have decided you are—this is an act of courage few individuals dare try. I know I didn't.
It is late fall, and we are walking through through the woods with the girls, searching for birch bark and tossing sticks to the dogs.
"This is the first time I've ever stopped wondering where I'm supposed to be," my fiancé says as we climb a slight hill, all of us hand in hand. I start to cry. So much sweetness, such simple tenderness.
We talk about the holidays, the kids' soccer matches, we talk about the wedding, a year from now, my dress, my hair, whether or not he should wear lifts, like Andre Agassi did when he wed Brooke Shields.
"I need every inch I can get," he says, a wink in his voice.
We banter and tease, and I giggle, flip my hair. I am drunk with optimism, skipping through leaves, looking for unicorns in the clouds. And I realize then that this man has done something I never thought possible. Something revolutionary.
He has made a girl out of me.
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