Life is an unfoldment, and the further we travel the more truth we can comprehend. To understand the things that are at our door is the best preparation for understanding those that lie beyond.
I was a New York kind of girl and had a New York state of mind (thanks to Billy Joel) for over twenty years. Unfortunately, the bright lights of the big city became too bright and too big to continue living there. Even though my entire transgender community was in and around the Big Apple, my girlfriend and I had to leave for a warmer and less expensive latitude. Based on my ability to relocate to another branch of the same company, we ended up moving to a climate where the opinions for people in the transgender community may not be as open-minded as I had grown accustomed to.
Suddenly, fear and desperation became my default setting again (after so many years of being distant friends). I believed that behind every door was a Bible-thumper ready to renounce my sinful ways, and that every Southerner with a valid gun license would consider me open season. I was scared for Savannah’s livelihood (and, in some ways, her life). I worked for several months trying to establish a new network of crossdressers so that I could arrive in South Carolina with a cushion of familiarity and community. Throughout that period, I tried to find local girls—without as much success as I had hoped. I did find a couple m2f women, but they did not live close by. Once we arrived in the Upstate of South Carolina, I was able to find more local women through alternative online mingling sites, reaching out and waiting for any response.
I felt as if I was the only transgender person in the South. Was I destined to be alone? Had I left all of my best girlfriends hundreds of miles north? It was all about my mind twisting around my perspective. My girlfriend and my circle of New York area friends have been very supportive while I throw myself my lonely pity party. Even though she has moved away from her entire family (three daughters, two grandkids, her aging mother), my girlfriend has offered me a list of alternative LBGTQ online channels for me to research. I am still in the midst of signing up for local “fetish” sites, meet up groups, TG societies, and, as I am writing this article, just realized that my Facebook profile should be updated so that the locals know that I’m here and looking for friends to go out on the town with.
While I have a huge network of friends and my lovely partner, the future of this new venue is still a very scary notion to me. I spent twenty-two years in New York slowly coming out of my shell. It took me more than two-thirds of those years to realize that there was a wide-open world of transgender acceptance in New York City and on Long Island. The remainder of the time I spent making friends and feeling more and more safe within that TG community and in public.
Now–as I wait to hear from others like me–I still feel adrift without a lifeline. Now, I stand here looking at the South Carolina “Upstate” wondering what direction to start walking. Will it take me another four or five years before I can hope to regain what I had lost?
What I’m trying to realize—although my friends and girlfriend have tried to remind me several times already—is that I already have the tools to find new friends in a much more accelerated pace this time around. I have already braved new venues without being accosted or bothered. I have already found friends that will continue to be good friends (even if they are far away). I have to remind myself that I have already come a long way out from the back of the closet. To allow myself to be shackled behind those closed and claustrophobic doors again seems unreasonable and irresponsible. It’s similar to an alcoholic who falls off the wagon after beginning their 12-Step program in earnest. They will never see that next ‘first drink’ in the same way again. Likewise, I could never see Savannah back in that closet again. It may be filled with pretty dresses and high heels and may be a comfortable and familiar place, but nothing grows there in the dark among the hangers except dread and fear.
I have found places to start my search for other transgender women who are also brave enough to step into the sunlight with me. I have come to realize that I can also step out into the public world with my girlfriend at my side or, even, by myself. Whether to buy a coffee and read a book at Starbucks or wander around the clothes aisles at Kohl’s looking at new fashions to try on and buy, the world is still out there waiting for me. I think I may soon be brave enough again to venture out in search of others or in search for sun and solace. I only wish I already lived in a world where bravery on my part wasn’t a requirement.