Another vacation, and going full time
posted | about 7 minutes to read
Monday this week marked a pretty big milestone for me. It was the first day I was officially out as Allison to my workplace. I won't dwell on how that went right now - suffice to say it was a perfectly normal day at work, which was entirely what I was hoping for - but the bigger implications here are that, essentially, I'm done (except for legal paperwork, anyway). I'm living my life full time as myself now, and that's a really ridiculously good thing.
I spent the last week on vacation in New York City. It was a planned trip - I didn't just do it to get out of the way while my company handled transition-related things, but it was a nice bonus. I was actually there to do some food tourism as well as to meet up with some close friends from an online community later in the week.
Part of getting ready to finish a complete social transition was getting my hair cleaned up. I found a local salon a few months back that as far as I could tell would be a pretty inclusive place, and decided that that would be my new go-to once I was ready - so the Saturday before leaving for NYC, I made my way out there, and sure enough, great environment and friendly, skilled stylists - I ended up walking out with what I consider to be the best haircut of my life. For obvious reasons (now-obvious, anyway), I was never really happy with my hair before - and while after growing it out a bit it was certainly in a much better spot, it was definitely getting a bit sloppy. Getting it cleaned up and moving to a more unambiguously feminine look was a big step for me and one that I was very excited to make.
With that out of the way, I was ready to head to NYC. Even looking back on last week now, I'm still surprised at how comfortable I was feeling about things; like, yes, I was moving to full-time feminine gender presentation, but I wasn't nervous at all about doing that for a week in the big city. And I ended up being right about that! All the way through my trip, everything was 100% fine - heck, even airport security was zero hassles (actually, on the way back, the woman checking ID's gendered me correctly in the security line despite the listed sex on my ID, which was super great. TSA Precheck is a wonderful thing, I guess?). More than just no hassles, though - it was just the feeling of being able to be who I wanted to be and not care about what anyone else thought (partly, of course, because I interacted with a bunch of strangers that I knew I'd never see again) that really stuck with me.
Some stuff went above and beyond that, even. One of the big ones was going to a bar in Brooklyn on Wednesday night and dancing for, like, four hours, and being actively included in the whole thing - people dragging me in to dance, talking with people and making new friends, the whole nine yards. Heck, before the whole thing even kicked off, the DJ for the party found me and chatted for a bit and wanted to make sure that I felt like I was supposed to be there. Of all the stuff that I did in the city, I think that's the thing that's gonna stick with me, just because of how darn positive of an experience it was.
This is not to say that the rest of the trip was unmemorable! Like I said earlier, part of why I went to the city in the first place was to do a bunch of food tourism. I had actually planned all my meals for that week months in advance, which ended up being a mistake - while I managed to stick to my plan for the first day and a half, Thursday was a disaster where both of my planned restaurants were closed for private events. Wandering Brooklyn in sprinkling rain for an hour, while fine, definitely wasn't the original plan - although I ended up finding a pretty darn good dinner that night anyway, so it worked out at the end of the day. From halal meat from a street cart to upscale Cuban at a midtown Manhattan restaurant, I was far from disappointed in the food. I also managed to hit up a couple museums - the New York Transit Museum was especially cool.
The big unexpected thing for me was getting to go see the U.S. women's national soccer team's parade in Manhattan. I had no idea that it was scheduled for that week until I woke up that morning and was checking the train service into Manhattan - when I read the service disruption note, I figured “what the heck, might as well go!". It was really cool to get to be there with all of the people cheering for them. Truly a great experience.
Honestly, the trip up to this point would have been a wonderful time in and of itself, even without factoring in the rest of it, but getting to spend a couple of days with some really good friends just pushed it over the top. I've known a lot of the folks I was meeting up with for probably about three years now, and even not having met all of them in person before, I had really been looking forward to seeing everyone.
It was a phenomenal couple of days. This particular community is unique, in my experience, in how close-knit it is, and that's been reflected every time I've met up with people from there in the past. This time was no different: two days of just relaxing, having conversation, and playing a bunch of games with good friends makes for a good time.
There's a lot that I could say here. I think the biggest thing, though, is how supportive everyone is. It's easy to find a place to just chat or share cat pictures or whatever, but here, when someone's hurting or is having a tough time, you can tell that everyone genuinely cares - and the community has fostered an environment where people can feel comfortable talking about that kind of stuff. Heck, I look back at when I finally started questioning my gender or taking my first steps towards transitioning and how much the community helped me through that time and I honestly believe I could not have done it without them. It was really meaningful to me to get to see people in person - as myself, finally - and feeling accepted and welcomed. Compassion like that is a truly rare trait in an online community, and I count myself lucky to be able to be a part of this one. I'm truly hoping that the friendships that I've formed there will last for a very long time; I've often found previous Internet friendships to be more transient, but these connections feel a lot more special.
It was hard to leave. It's always hard, I think, coming to the end of a vacation, but this one especially. A lot of that was how good of a trip it was, but part of it, too, was that I was a lot more nervous about coming back to work than I was about seeing either a) strangers or b) people to whom I was already out and who accepted me already. It was a little bit of a mystery to me in terms of how people would react. It ended up being fine, thankfully. I came back to work, and it was just another very normal standard day at work, and that was honestly exactly what I wanted! My workplace has been nothing but supportive and I'm very grateful for that.
Being full time is a real load off my back stress wise and honestly a big confidence booster for me. I genuinely couldn't even imagine doing this when I came to terms with my gender identity last year; to have come this far is really amazing. It's also way ahead of the timeline I had set for myself. Back at the beginning of the year, I had set up a month-by-month plan for coming out to different groups of people and starting hormone therapy and getting legal paperwork done and all of that, and I'm, like, three months out ahead of it. I wasn't originally planning to kick my presentation to full time until, like, September. It has felt like a kind of avalanche - once the momentum started, it was really hard to stop moving forward, so I just…didn't - and now I'm there! One more step done on the journey to self-actualization, I suppose.