Just wanted to welcome Caitlyn Jenner to the world! See my commentary on this issue here.
About four or five years ago, I became online friends with a man we shall call Paul. We were not dating or anything like that–we met because we pursued a cause that has absolutely nothing to do with romance. Or gender status. It was a cause near and dear to both of us that mattered a great deal in the grand scheme of things. And somehow we ended up friends on Facebook in the process.
We were your classic Facebook “friends” who had never met. We liked each other’s posts on occasion. We chatted off and on about things related to the reason for which we first made each other’s acquaintance. That was about it.
Then one day I saw a Facebook post from him that surprised me. It said: “It’s time to be who I really I am. I am going forward as Paula instead of Paul, to become the woman I have always been.”
I remembered my first gut reaction being, “What kind of joke is this?” And I quickly realized it was no joke.
I’m from a very rural, uneducated family background. We were not worldly. I didn’t really know what it was like to be friends with someone who was openly gay until I was in my twenties! So this thing with Paul was very very unfamiliar to me.
Paul and I had no personal history together. It just was what it was…. an online friendship that had gone on for a year or more. I reached out and expressed support for his decision. Otherwise, we didn’t talk too much about the transition. Over time, though, we got to know one another. The original cause that we met over was still important to both of us, but it was no longer the reason we were in contact with one another. We had formed a real friendship based on common interests and shared values. We talked about our jobs, our lives, our relationships, our kids, our clothes, etc. We grieved each other’s losses, we celebrated each other’s triumphs. We. Were. Friends.
And at some very natural point in time for me, Paul was no longer Paul. She was Paula. She was my dear friend who popped up online regularly and asked me how my day was. She was the friend who talked to me when I was confused or stressed out. She was the girl who listened to my dating horror stories. She was just my friend. Plain and simple. That’s who she was. That’s who SHE was.
Meanwhile, she headed towards her gender reassignment surgery. I talked to her for months leading up to that, and, I got all the details about how it worked. It wasn’t strange to me–it just my dear friend going through something so major, and so important, that I was happy to share it with her. I was as supportive as I could be, and felt somewhat helpless that I couldn’t be there to help with the recovery. I wanted to take her chicken soup and ice packs and magazines and whatever else she needed. I wanted to do that for Paula but the surgery was geographically too far away and I couldn’t be there. I did hear from her before, during and after the process. I was as close and supportive as I could be. My efforts felt very weak, and very inadequate, but I was there nonetheless.
What I do remember feeling for her was a profound sense of happiness. And relief. She was finally going to have the body that suited her! That is something I admittedly do not understand firsthand, because my anatomy has always fit me pretty much to a tee. I’m comfortable with body I was given, except of course for the cellulite that I am too lazy to do anything about. What a hell it must be to have to feel like you need parts you aren’t born with! How do you cope with that? How do you announce it to your family? How do you deal with their shock and their emotions? All I know is I have tried to be a supportive friend and done what I could do for Paula from a considerable geographic distance.
A year after her surgery I finally met Paula in person. We rode in her gorgeous red Corvette out to lunch and had a fantastic time just celebrating life and talking like the good ol’ girls we knew each other to be. I’m going to go visit her again this year. Meanwhile we chat regularly and I am fortunate to have such a wonderful friend. Someone who is there for me, who is my confidant and my champion. Who could ask for more? I don’t care or even think about the fact that I first knew her has “Paul.” Paula is my bestie, my gal pal, and I love her. Everyone should be so lucky to have such a friend.
The Bruce Jenner story was no shock or surprise to me. I have seen it unfold in a much less public and a much more realistic setting. I am extremely proud of Bruce for wanting to do some good in the world by coming out with his story. Did you know that 45% of those who are transgender will attempt suicide? I learned that watching the interview with Bruce. (I knew the rate was high, but I had no idea it was that high.) I cannot imagine the hell people go through before reaching that point! I do hope that Bruce’s story will do some good in terms of getting people to accept transgender status as a natural part of the human experience. Even though I am sure I’ll never meet someone so famous in person, I look forward to getting to know HER when she emerges from this metamorphosis. It has surely been a joy and a true privilege to go through it with Paula.
Today is a great day to remember what we have to be thankful for. Here’s a few of the things I am particularly thankful for today:
I am thankful for you, my readers! Thank you for your comments, input, and suggestions for this blog. Thank you for taking a moment of time–which is so fleeting and so precious–to share in the tales of my adventures. Thank you for sharing my blog with your friends and inviting them to join in the fun.
I am thankful for the people of Match.com who give me so much blog fodder. But, I confess I don’t spent much time on there anymore. I’m still dating the same person and have been for about a month. Go figure! (I am keeping my membership so I can see what’s happening out there, even if I have sort of voluntarily removed myself from the dating market for now to focus on one guy who I think is pretty great.)
I am thankful for my health. Several years ago it was taken away from me and for years I wasn’t sure if I would ever get it back. So glad that I am healthy and happy these days!
I am thankful for my family–both the ones that share a gene pool with me, and, those I have adopted as part of my “homemade” family. Life would be so empty without these wonderful people!
What are you thankful for today?
Welcome to my view of the world from my little broom. I’m a 40-something woman, been divorced for over a decade, raising one great son pretty much by myself. I work full-time, and now I’m dating again. I’m not sure why it’s so different this time, but something about it just bears sharing with the rest of the world. Plus I like to cook and do a few other things I’ll also share just to break up the monotony.