The Inn of Chicago. I step out of my hotel room. Heart pounding. I feel like a spy who’s afraid of being found out. I step into the elevator. Thank God it’s empty. But floors below me, I’m joined by other patrons of the hotel. It’s a tiny space, like a closet. I’m afraid to make eye contact with anyone. But, the women don’t stand apart, trying to find a safe distance. What I sense is an air of ease, instead of the dis-ease I normally feel from other women in elevators when I’m in boy mode.
I step out into the freezing cold. I’m thankful for my parka. The faux fur protects my neck from the cold winds. I wait nervously for my first Lyft ride. Thankfully, the driver is a woman. And she’s none the wiser that I’m trans.
I arrive at the church as the first plenary for The Reformation Project conference is well under way. I find an empty pew in the back. Friendless. Scared. Feeling isolated, I choose to isolate myself by sitting alone.
This is day one of the conference. Day one of being out as myself. I hope for better on day two. With breakout sessions, I hope I’ll make friends. With that timid hope in my heart I decide to walk back to my hotel.
I stop at Walgreens to get deodorant. I gravitate toward the Secret brand. First time buying a woman’s deodorant. Yay. I get in line, hoping I won’t have to speak. I haven’t spoken to anyone yet. I’m not sure of my voice. Hitting the right pitch on the voice feminization app came easily enough. But it’s untested if I can actually sustain a conversation let alone sentences.
My cashier is a guy in his late twenties, maybe early thirties. My plan is to pay for the item and get the hell outta there. But the man strikes up a conversation. Shit.