Getting Right With This Transgender Thing

Jennifer Simmons

by Jennifer Simmons

The night would fill with the sweet song from a cricket choir and their backup chorus of toads. The rhythm of the midnight train thumping steady on the tracks gave a smooth beat to it all. Most nights in the summer I would sneak out of my bedroom window and silently make my way out to the shed. There was a ragged old wooden ladder that I made, propped up on the backside of it. The treads on the stairs would creak as I put weight on them so I would move as slowly as I could. By the time I was at the top, my feet would ache from the wood pressing into my arches. The roof was still warm from baking in the sun. It felt soothing as I laid out flat and it heated my back. I would lay there staring at the sky until I saw a shooting star. I would wish and pray that when I woke up I would be a girl. I spent a lot of nights sleeping on the roof of that shed. The same theme would follow me all my life. Any wishing well I could find a coin went in and the same wish would be made. Any custom or fable that allowed for the possibility of my wish coming true was worth a try to me.


As the years progressed and my body changed, I realized that my belief in fairytales was fading more and more. My voice deepened, I grew to 5’11, my hairline receded and my body turned against me in every possible way it could. Even though I was firmly in my flesh prison, I still screamed on the inside for my miracle. I knew that the likelihood of me ever just looking like a natural born woman was almost impossible. For a lot of people they are completely happy with falling in the non-binary, but for me all I ever wanted to be was female.

Transitioning is a process. No matter how much we wish we could flip a switch and just be who we want to be, the reality is that it takes a lot of work and time. In some ways living two lives simplified things. I would go to work and the guys would accept me as one of their own. I could come home and be a woman and mom. Going out in public as a woman was a different story. I remember pulling up to a drive through window years ago and the cashier getting a huge smile on his face as I handed him my money. I pulled up to the next window and just as it opened I could hear him yelling to everyone “Look it’s a tranny! Dude it’s a tranny!” I drove off without getting my food and went home. After many scenarios played out of the same situation, I knew I had to get my head around not being a man or a woman, but being transgender.


Growing up, transgender people were the subjects of episodes of Jerry Springer or punchlines in a Jim Carrey movie. I had never met another transgender person that I was aware of until I was in my thirties. Once I decided to go to a gay bar in Atlanta to just have a drink and relax. When I opened the door and walked in, everyone at the bar stopped and looked at me. After what seemed like forever they started to laugh and yell “Look at the tranny!” I could not find acceptance in any aspect of my life as a transgender woman. Then one day I got a call back from a therapist named Jayson. I did not know it until I went to my first appointment, but he was a transman. Jayson sat there as a professional therapist and he challenged my ideas on being transgender and what it meant. He helped me see that I had every right to live my life the way everyone else gets to live theirs. I started to confront people who were sensationalizing me and stood up for myself. I was able to start seeing that it was ok for someone to want me and be attracted to me.

Today I stood in my office helping a customer. My hair was pulled up into a messy ponytail looking over my glasses a sternly as I could I said “Again will that be all for you?” He looked up from my breast and said “No thanks.” I could see the questions brewing in his mind, but he could tell that I did not owe him and answer. I took his order and got him on his way, it was a perfectly normal day for a normal person.


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