Lost in Transition

Plucked her eyebrows on the way
Shaved her legs and then he was a she
She says, “Hey, babe,
Take a walk on the wild side.”
Said, “Hey, honey,
Take a walk on the wild side.”
–Lou Reed, Walk On The Wild Side

The first time I laid my eyes on the city’s new finance director I thought surely someone in human resources had made some grave error. Pardon my bias, but most city department heads are overweight, bald men counting time until retirement.

The new finance director was young–and so hot that the carpeting sizzled behind him when he walked through the cubicle maze.

I didn’t believe in wasting time on any of my projects, so I quickly glided over to his office for introductions and oh yes, “Would you like to get coffee?” Coffee was just a cart in the lobby, but I had him trapped for my 411 interview. I had the home court advantage of being an assistant to the boss, so it’s not really as if he had a choice.

“Where did you work before here?”

“What do you think of city hall so far?”

“Don’t you think Judy is a bitch?”

And then I got down to business. “Are you married?” Yes. “Do you have kids?” Four. I did not know at the time, but this wife would be a key player in his destiny. And not in a good way.

Paul. His name was Paul.

We became great friends and would spend hours in each others’ offices talking,laughing, and now and then working. The money guys are great allies to have. Next to my office sat Valerie. Picture a tall, willowy, redhead who is breathtakingly beautiful. Funny, smart, she completed our little triad. She ran the budget and also told great, ribald stories. It was the best of times in a not-so-great city hall.

I had lunch with them–our old triad–last week. I’ve always kept in touch with Valerie, but this was the first time the three of us had been together in ten years.

Paula. Her name was Paula.

Of course, I had known she was in transition through Valerie, but this was the first time Paula, formerly Paul, and I had seen each other in person. Someone I had spent literally every day with for seven years at work. We knew each other’s deepest, darkest secrets. This one I apparently missed. She was late, and I was afraid she wouldn’t show up. But in walked beautiful, tall, blonde Paula. Dressed in a blue jean mini skirt matched with a hot pink top carrying a Coach bag.

I went from crushing on Paul to outfit envy on Paula.

It was as if ten years had been ten days. We laughed. We gossiped about people. Valerie told a story about stalking a guy that was so funny I nearly wet my pants. She’s fearless. Paula brought us up to date on her wife–who had taken every cent of their money, would not allow the kids to talk to her (probably the most painful) and had taken out a two-year restraining order. Bitter bitter bitter. It so didn’t have to be that way.

On his daughter’s birthday, he texted her, “Happy birthday, I love you.” His wife invoked the restraining order and had him thrown in jail. During transition, until your doctor gives you the “ready to be female” for gender dysphoria, this is what legally determines your gender and allows you to change records such as a driver’s license. To the world, you are then officially female.

Paula had to go to jail. In jail, whether or not you have a penis determines where you are placed. Dressed as a woman, she sat in the male general population until she could bail herself out six hours later. I cannot even imagine this situation in the Orange County jail.

Lost, yes, you can get lost in transition.

Halfway through lunch, I asked Paula if she could have any wish granted she wanted–what would it be? She dreamily said, “It would be for a boyfriend and me to be on a desert island somewhere where we could dig our toes in the sand.” But then she grew more serious and said, “I want to help people.”

I asked her if there was one piece of advice she would give to young men in her position. “I would tell them to pass. Pass as soon as you can. You will never find happiness until you become true to who you are.”

I find this wise advice to anyone. Being true to who you are.

“Doo do doo do doo do do doo…
Doo do doo do doo do do doo…
Doo do doo do doo do do doo…
Doo do doo do doo do do doo…”

Photo Credit: Nico Nelson via Compfight cc

  1. That’s great, Drew, I’m sure you’re looking forward to catching up with your friend. Before the lunch with my friends, Valerie confided in me that Paula was concerned about what I might think of her. Are you kidding me? I loved her in the way back and I think I might even love her more now. She’s so courageous. And I was so happy to see that SHE was happy. It was as if a huge weight had been lifted from her–and she was free to be who she really was. I consider myself so fortunate that she calls me her friend!

  2. Next week I’ll be meeting up with a friend like Paula. I haven’t seen her in years, and she began to transition a year or so ago. I’ll be sure to share this with her. I hope it reaches many of those who are struggling with their identity now and in the future.

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