Mommy, Are We There Yet?
Carrying a banner that reads, "All Citizens Should Have the Same Legal and Basic Rights," Aere Greenway, a transgender Mormon from Salt Lake City, walks in a Pride celebration in Salt Lake City. Enlarge picture
Copyright © 2003 by Aere Greenway
I'm sure anyone who has traveled with kids is familiar with this question.
Yet with my many halfway steps, it seems to typify my own journey from
where I was decades ago to where I am today. It seems a rather inefficient
way to make a journey, yet by doing it this way I've been sure of each
new step taken. This makes a lot of sense for a journey to a place you
can't come back from.
I think my friends in the Lambda Hiking Club sometimes don't know what
to think of me. Here's this straight woman--yet she knows all these insider
gay men's jokes! That shouldn't be too surprising though, knowing that
after coming-out in 1993, I lived as a gay man for about four years.
Back then, many of you knew me as Kirk.
If you go back a few more years beyond that, you'd find me married to
a woman, doing the L.D.S. thing to the best of my ability. But I smile
a lot more now than I ever did then. Hey--it's not often that you meet
a woman who used to be in an L.D.S. bishopric!
Life was better after coming-out, thanks to so many of you who helped
me heal the wounds of being thrown away by the culture I grew up in.
Yet still I was only part way there. One foot was out of the closet,
but my transgender side was still locked away. Amid statements such
as "No Femmes" sometimes heard in the gay community, telling someone
about this side of me wasn't something I'd do on a first date--or a second
Still, if there's anything I've learned in the journey, it's that you've
got to be who you really are. It wasn't until I started dealing with
my transgender side, that the puzzle pieces finally started to fit into
place. It was also at this stage that I met my long time partner.
My journey in the transgender realm was again a sequence of halfway
steps. I did the drag show thing for a long time. Then I started experiencing
different things in 'normal society' (for short periods of time) as
a woman. Finally I started feminizing hormonal therapy. With each new
step, I liked it more and more, and couldn't seem to get enough of it.
In June of 1999, I took the most difficult step of transitioning on
the job, and of changing my name, which finally allowed me to live as
a woman all the time.
Then in December of 2000, fulfilling a life-long impossible dream, I
had sex reassignment surgery in Phuket, Thailand. "Toto, I don't believe
we're in Kansas anymore!"
When I first started living in the world of women, it often seemed I
was a stranger in a strange land. But more and more, I have been welcomed
into that world. Also, as time goes by, more and more of my experiences
are in common with those of other women.
Getting married, going to my spouse's home town to meet the in-laws,
taking a vacation canoe trip down the Buffalo River, being introduced
at my spouse's high school reunion, and just the day to day tasks of
working at a job, and living with my long time partner.
It becomes a somewhat remote memory that I was ever any other way. Sometimes,
though, the questions can still surprise me. At a funeral, the matriarch
of my spouse's family asked me, "Are you pregnant?"
"I think I'm a bit old for that," I replied evasively, since they don't
know my unusual history.
"I know quite a few women who have had kids at a somewhat advanced age,"
"You're right," I said, "One can't be too sure."
It's been a long road, getting from there to here. With all the halfway
steps, somehow it never occurred to me that I could have it all.
"Mommy, are we there yet?"
"Yes, child. We have arrived."
Aere Greenway can be reached via the Engendered Species transgender
group at (801) 320 0551.