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Firsts - Small Moments in a Transwoman's Transition

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Intimate spaces: Someone helping you put your necklace back on can be a source of deep emotion.

Intimate spaces: Someone helping you put your necklace back on can be a source of deep emotion.

What are your firsts?

There are many firsts for a transwoman going through transition. Some are mundane, some are shocking or curious while others will bring you to tears. I’ve been reflecting on some of my firsts recently and thought I’d capture a few of them before life moves on and the memories get fuzzy with time. Below are a few of mine.

I still chuckle at the first time I had 3 strapping men load my van for me at the food distributors where I get my ingredients. The office clerk, who I had been working with for years, couldn’t place who I was and kept asking me if I was my wife. Expecting to load my own van, per usual, I was surprised when he summoned 3 strapping men who loaded my van for me in seconds. The clerk still thinks I’m my wife.


An gentleman cab driver shared his tragic story, and opened doors for me. Something that would never have happened as a man.

I remember when a cab driver in Honolulu, his cab proudly decked out in Disney memorabilia, raced around to open the car door for me. He was so happy to have someone with a Disney princess name ride in his cab and he told me how he and his deceased wife would go to Disneyland together each year. I was touched by his openness and gentlemanly gestures that would never have occurred if I had been a male.

Then, there was the long-time customer who couldn’t figure out who I was at my shop. She later messaged me on Facebook to admit she spent a good amount of time wondering why a “skinny white chick” new her and her family so well.

Of course, there are the obligatory catcalls most women navigate in their lives, but when you are trans, and the first time it occurs, how do you react? For me, it was equal parts creepy and affirming. But not prepared for it, I said thank you and walked on.

The excitement you feel when your name change becomes official. When you finally hold those papers signed by the Lieutenant Governor in your hand. They are just 8.5x11 copies, but they mean so much.

There was the first time my partner called me by my name.

Getting my license, with a cute photo. Wow.

Successfully arguing with my doctors about which documents to use

First Electrolysis appointment

First surgical consult

First therapist appointment

First

First

First

But the first that really stands out, because it was such an unexpected intimacy, was when someone helped me with my necklace for the first time.


Someone Helped Me With My Necklace for the First Time

As a man, allowing someone get that close to you, when you can feel their breath on your neck and the brush of their fingers as they struggle with the clasp, is unfathomable. I have done this countless of times for my partner and thought nothing of it, and chances are, as a CIS woman or man, you haven’t given it much thought either.

But that first time. The breath, the fingertips, those few, precious seconds of having a relative stranger be so close and helpful, was exhilarating and I found myself having to fight back the emotions that begged me to tears. Such a simple first, often taken for granted, but one I will never forget. And if you read this, whether you are CIS or not, trans or not, I hope you understand the vulnerability and openness that letting others help you represents.

© 2020 Ariel ES