Today I had two fun identity related moments. Little reminders that despite how recently, relatively speaking [note] it still feels like muuuuch longer [/note] my transformation started in earnest. Both were relatively affirming.
For the first anecdote, a little background: For the previous 3-4 years I would bike or, more recently, drive [note] I now use my bike mainly on a nearby nature trail which is far less stressful than Halifax roads [/note] to the farmer’s market on the Halifax waterfront on Saturdays. I usually use the time to fetch fresh cat grass for the cat, some produce, maybe some protein, and have some local eats at the local vendors, finished off by a damn good latté upstairs.
I also would typically get my eats at a little prepared food vendor called Stella’s Antiguan Cuisine, that had some delicious jerk chicken. It was a stable and warm meal, which was especially important during the time I’d bike there. Stella herself is almost a stereotype. A kind and warm Caribbean woman, age unknown but north of 40, who looks like someone who’s invited many a guest into her kitchen for some delicious chemistry. And, most relevant to this anecdote, the type of person who’d recognize a repeat customer.
Due to dieting [note] initially to fend off diabetes, later as part of my transition [/note] I started avoiding the Stella booth, but always glancing over at it.
Today, I gave in and ordered me some jerk chicken. Stella was eyeing me, narrowing her eyelids, seemingly trying to figure something out. I had a pretty good idea why. I broke the ice.
“I used to come here every Saturday, I’ve been craving this for months.”
“Oh?” [still squinting]
“Yeah! Would bike in. Would usually order the jerk chicken and veg. This stuff would really hit the spot.”
“It usually does!” [slight chuckle, squinting intensifies]
“Of course I looked a little different last year.”
At this point I could tell she was really struggling with something. [note] I want to state here that there was no lineup at the moment, I wouldn’t be occupying her time if there was. I’m not a jerk…all the time anyways. [/note] So I proceed to give her my driver’s license, which as of this writing is still an old photo of me, about 100lbs heavier and very male looking. I could see the recognition on her face immediately.
“Now that makes sense!! Ha! I thought you were his sister or something, but couldn’t remember such a person ever coming in!”
We joked a bit, she said I was looking good, that I looked happier. Did some of the traditional small talk and walked away, delicious jerk chicken in hand.
I thought you were his sister or something!
The second moment was at the local pharmacy. Me and a friend were doing what’s basically become a traditional Saturday early evening cosmetics run in the cheap makeup aisle prior to fetching some Mediterranean food at the resto next door. When we’d done our scouting, picked up a few wares and glanced at the impossibly expensive stuff longingly(or suspiciously), we went to the cosmetics counter to pay. And I immediately recognized one of the two ladies who were behind it.
She was the one working when I first went in, last fall, right before closing, looking like a dude but muttering meekly “I…I’m looking for some makeup….but not dude makeup….I’m not sure how to even say this….I’m transitioning, I guess? I’m…I need to feminize my face if that makes any sense.” Thinking back, I acutely remember how terrified I was on my first makeup run. And this woman was the person who would deal with this clueless, anxious 6’2″ guy walking into the makeup section and asking to be made pretty. She handled it like a champ and, while I probably wouldn’t have picked as much expensive stuff as she threw into my starter kit, of sorts, she did get me started. And did her dang best to put me at ease. [note] despite the sticker shock [/note]
So here was this young woman who’d help start it all, whom I surprisingly hadn’t run into since, despite being at that pharmacy often.
I decide, “What the heck? It was fun with Stella.” So I breech the subject again and said
“I think you were the one here the first time I ever came in here to buy makeup.”
She didn’t need my ID to know who I was after I brought that up. Though I showed it to her coworker for context (who gasped). Apparently my impact on her was pretty big as well, as she’d remembered that day herself. It’s not every day someone walks into your makeup shop in literal desperation and looking like a deer in headlights, I suppose. And she recalled both how anxious I was, as well as how relieved I was by the end (sticker shock notwithstanding).
Either way, two fun little moments as I say goodbye to Réal on my way to becoming Rae. Thought I’d share, and finally make a post on this blog.