Being a transgender girl is the elephant in the living room of my life, a weighty creature none of us can see or touch but one that often pins me into corners, where I squirm against its heft.
I am unafraid of Lady Elephant. I, after all, invited her into the room.
Yet many are fearful of her. She causes them discomfort, enough that they speak of her only in hushed tones, whispers that drift across a crowded room to the accompaniment of arched eyebrows and silent snickers.
Among other things, Lady Elephant has convinced would-be employers that their businesses would be better served by not providing me with gainful, meaningful toil, despite a resume sheet detailing areas of confirmed expertise and exemplary work in a variety of roles. Prior to Lady Elephant’s arrival, I was a journalist whose work appeared in many of the top newspapers in Canada. I directed the desktop publishing wing of a prestigious, private golf club into the 21st century and, later, served as its communications liaison. I was the graphics guru at a public golf facility. I became a very successful peddler of vintage/antique wares, so much so that to this day no one has matched my top-two, single-day sales achievements.
In the seven years since that vintage/antigue gig ran its course, and in the half dozen years since my surgery, I have been hired to scrub public toilets part-time, scrub public toilets part-time and scrub public toilets part-time. Full stop.
Lady Elephant also has led to unexpected bouts of ostracism by some in the LGBT arena, where the collective surely ought to know better, given that they, too, have experience with elephants of their own. On this matter, I shall spare you the details, painful as they have been.
Most frustrating, however, is Lady Elephant’s influence in matters of amour.
There have been two potential trysts, both of which featured early and encouraging signs that the seeds of promise were about to sprout and, indeed, blossom.
Her name was Elle, most appropriate in that she was every inch and ounce the woman, albeit with a somewhat ragged edge that I found curiously appealing. There were two elephants in her room—alcoholism and a teenage daughter, neither of which caused me a moment of angst. Over a two-week period, we met most afternoons/evenings, engaging in the usual to-and-fro of a fresh flirtation. Then I introduced her to the elephant in my room.
“Why,” she asked, “didn’t you tell me this sooner?”
She insisted she needed time to process. She went to Vancouver for the weekend. I never heard from her again. I did, mind you, see her once more, many months later at a blues jam at the Strathcona Hotel. She saw me walk in with friends, she smiled brightly and began to rise from her chair to greet me. Alas, some unseen force pulled her down. She turned away.
The other girl’s name was Allie, whom I met at a function during Pride Week in Victoria. She was a delight in every sense. Inside the first hour, we were walking about the room together, holding hands. Clearly there was a strong, vibrant connection. It was a rush. Unfortunately, I had to leave, but we agreed to meet again.
“There’s something you should know before I go,” I told her, recalling my unfortunate experience with Elle. “I’m transgender.”
“Really?” was her reaction.
“I wish you hadn’t told me this right away.”
A year slipped by before we next met. We were with friends and she made a point of loudly advising our group that she was “not a lesbian.” This she repeated at an ensuing gathering. “I’m not a lesbian.” I have been assured by a mutal friend that Allie is bisexual. She likes girls. Just not transgender girls.
These are not the only two examples of the elephant in my room squeezing me out of a relationship, but they stand as the prime exhibits. In one instance, I spoke too late, in another I spoke too soon.
In either case, these women couldn’t see past the caterpillar I once was to appreciate the butterfly I have become.
Which is sad.
I’ve grown weary of doing most things on my own. Or being the fifth wheel at a gathering of friends. It would be nice to have someone with whom I can share glad tidings. Or even the down times. Alas, I can’t find the delicate balance of when to tell, or when not to tell, a girl about the elelphant in my room. Perhaps I shouldn’t tell them at all. After all, I have the mindset and all the proper body parts that a girl who likes girls desires.
Perhaps I should adopt a don’t ask, don’t tell policy.
Whatever the case, I’m not totally discouraged, even at my advanced age (there shall be 65 candles on my next birthday cake in November). I have borrowed on the wisdom of the ladies who belong to the Lesbians of B.C. Facebook group, and they assure me that they would date a transgender girl, so I like to believe there is someone out there for me. A girl who won’t even notice the elephant in my room. A girl who will see the butterfly, not the caterpillar.