The first day we met her my boss was grumbling. We were working the counter together, retail you know, in a small mountain community when "the person" approached. The person had long hair in a decidedly wavy pattern, pretty in a non-fussy manner. She was clear skinned, medium height, with dark sunglasses. An Adam's apple, a deep voice, and teeth slightly parted in the middle. No one so beautiful as to notice, more like a soccer mom, or a soccer dad.
"It's not like I care," my boss was grumbling. "It's not like I have a judgment on people who get sex change operations." (To paraphrase the immortal Shakespeare, 'methinks he doth protest too much. . . .')
"It's not like I care," he repeated. "I just want to know which direction this is going - so I know whether to say 'Hey man,' or 'Hello, dear.'"
"Sure Bob," I replied as if I believed him. "I've gotten used to his funny explanations after 4 years of working with the guy. I know if I call him on his stuff, on his obvious discomfort, on his readily apparent judgment, I will only incur a free 40 minute lecture, a defensive lecture at that. The truth is, it was clear to me she was moving toward being a woman. She was a woman trapped in a man's body. Her jewelry was feminine. Adam's apple not-withstanding, her demeanor left nothing to the imagination. He was a she, and doing it courageously, I may add, in a community of less than two thousand people.
But may be that was point. May be when the whole process is complete she aims to move back to the larger metropolis. Blend in somewhere where no one ever knew him as a her. It's not a bad plan. Our community may be small, tucked away, ignorant and remote, but it's driving distance to Los Angeles. And it's transient. People come in the summer, finding it quaint and leave one season later after seeing 4four feet of snow. I had to admire this person for sticking it out now at least three years, becoming more female with each passing month.
Once upon a time people were trapped. They might chose to cross dress, or play at the opposite role, but hormones and treatments were not available. Imagine how difficult that would be! Fighting your very DNA for self acceptance. We're so lucky to live in a time and a place where people can change. Across the spectrum I've met some rather butch looking tough girls who surprised me with their heterosexuality, girly girls who don't deign to leave the house without makeup, homosexuals, bi-sexuals, over-sexed and under-sexed people. What really matters, is ethics not orientation. Nice people are better than evil people. Happy people are usually nice.
So please, don't worry about if you have to say "Hey Man," or "Hello dear." Just smile. A sincere smile makes all the difference.