Saturday, August 13, 2011

“Can I help you ma’am?”

“Can I help you ma’am?”  I still love hearing it.  It’s all I ever get anymore, but it still brings a smile to my face every time I hear it. 
I was reading through my usual list of blogs the other day and I came across Kathryn’s post about ‘Unremarkable '.  She offered how her transition has become 'unremarkable', no great anguish, no drama, just everyday things and adjusting to the day to day things women do every day.  And that is in effect how my transition is going. 
Work has become down right routine.  Everyone addresses me as Dana, I work as a woman, and I’m treated as one too.  There are a handful of guys who seem to stumble on the pronouns, and the whole gender thing, but they do try and they do mean well.  And, there are one or two who obviously have a problem with it and have become quite cold.  But everyone who matters to me tries hard and seems to have adjusted to the new me. 
Since my name change and receiving my new IDs TSA has become completely stress free,  no more ‘Random’ pat downs, no more interrogations about my id and how the picture doesn’t look like me.  All I have to worry about now is to remember to remove my earrings. 
My family has not only adjusted but seems to be excited.  The birthday extravaganza from last week was a huge success and I’ll remember it always.
When I’m out and about, I seem to fade into the background of life.  I just seem to blend in.  The world sees me as just another woman doing whatever needs to be done. 
But I’m not, I’m still transitioning, I’m still changing, both mentally and physically.  Yes, I have moments where everything is just right and I’m shocked to find out I’m a woman.  But I have moments where I still see Rick’s ways.  I glance at a mirror and see Dana, but I stare at the mirror and see Rick.   
I walk down the street and wonder if he knows, or if she sees?  I still find myself scanning the faces and the reactions of everyone just to see if there’s that double take or secret whisper to friend, or the dreaded trail of giggles I used to get all of the time. 

I ask myself why do I do this.  I’m treated as a woman by everyone.  I check into a hotel and it’s good evening Ms. Dana.  We all go to dinner and the waitress takes my order first.  Doors are held open for me.  People smile and say hello.  Yet in my mind I’m wondering if they see and know, but still out of respect treat me as I wish to be treated.  If complete strangers know that just last year it was Rick, and they are just being nice? Do they see Dana’s hair and her clothes and know enough about gender to interact with me as a woman out of respect.  Or is it possible they really do just see Dana?
What is the difference to me if someone sees the old Rick in me but treats me as Dana versus the same person only seeing Dana and treating me as such?  The end result to me is the same.  Why does it matter if they treat me as Dana but see Rick?  Is it important to me that I’m treated AND seen as Dana, even if the end result is the same? 
Yes it’s important to me, and it does matter.  It’s important because it is still a gauge as to how far down this path I am.  While it’s nice to be treated as Dana, and believe me it’s more than I would ever have thought possible just one year ago, it is not the ultimate goal of this whole endeavor.  The ultimate goal of this is not to be treated as Dana, but to BE Dana, to transform myself from Rick to Dana.  This whole process isn’t complete if the outside world has to stop and pause to ask themselves if this is a man or a woman. 
It’s a mile marker on the path, it’s a gauge of the distance I’ve gone and the success I’ve had.  As shallow as it might seem, it is important to me to be seen as Dana.  Not just treated, but seen as her.  Yes, the journey is so much more than just looking like Dana, but at the end of the day, it is the critical piece of all this.  The internal conflicts, the emotional turmoil, the mental changes will all be worked out by me alone.  I will know when these subside.  But will I know when the outside world stops seeing Rick?
The path is funny, I can see the path I've taken up until now quite clearly.  And I can see things around me and I have a general idea I’m heading in the right direction.  But I still can’t see what lies ahead, I’m still wary of all that is ahead of me.  I'm still not sure of how far the path leads or how long it will take to finish.  Still not even sure if this path takes me to the point I’m trying to reach.

But, I'm still in a far better place now then Rick was last year.

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