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Day 30: New York City Comraderie

2014 October 22
by Jen DiGiacomo

With two weeks left at my full-time gig in New York, I continue to pack my schedule with coffees, lunches, dinners and drinks with everyone I still haven’t come out to in town.

By now, it’s a mixture of networking, getting back in touch with old friends and lining up a support structure of people who will hopefully have my back in case this whole transgendering thing blows up in my face. Because let’s face it, next year I’m walking that transgendered tightrope without a societal safety net, and it would be kinda groovy to know who I can turn to if the heavy winds start to blow. ‘Cause, you know, I’ll be on a tightrope.

Anyway… my first stop of the day is with another AOL friend. This time it’s lunch at a swanky Time-Warner restaurant, not my usual lunch fare. While I’m most definitely a foodie, I’m usually a bit more… casual. To put my tastes in context, I’m obsessed with Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Unique Eats, and Good Eats, watching on near perpetual loop thanks to my TIVO. So yeah, transgendered foodie. Not the best combination for someone trying to shake those final ten “guy” pounds at age 48. So yeah, thanks God.

Back at lunch, we play the catch up game… divorces, kids, new jobs. Only I get to embellish my story with stuttering and transgendering. Try and top that! Drop the mic and walk away. Just walk away.

An oddly awesome byproduct of coming out to women (let’s just call it a feature) is that I get to compliment them on things that I was hesitant to comment upon in the past for fear that I would be perceived as that creepy guy hitting on them… creepily.

So let me just state for the record, she has the greatest medium short hair ever. And let me tell you, it is so cool once women realize that I’m serious about this, that I’m on hormones, that I’m really doing it, because there is an ease evident on their faces that leads to joyful conversations (at least for me) on hair, makeup (or lack thereof), and storing heels at the office. Topics I’ve never been able to talk about. It’s like being allowed past the rope at a hip nightclub for the first time and then being lead to the VIP room. At least, that’s what I imagine it’d be like having never really been hip enough to understand the the appeal of roped nightclubs. Diners, Drive-ins and Dives and all that, remember?

It is a delightful lunch that wraps up in her swanky office at Time Warner Center with promise of a renewed friendship.

Fast forwarding to after work, I walk to my weekly therapy and get to recount, in detail, my recent experiences, specifically my stress-filled weekend. It is with genuine delight that I discover that she agrees with me on things like mint juleps, transgendered proofs and gender spectrum boxes.

My favorite part?

My Therapist: That must have been awful having to defend yourself to a close friend. How long did that go on? 

Me (nonchalantly): Two hours. 

My Therapist (incredulous): Two hours!?!?!? 

Me (nonchalantly): Yeah, but he means well.

Of course, I am the one telling the story, so take that exchange and this whole blog for that matter with an enormous grain of salt.

But in an odd way, my confrontational conversation on Sunday ended up being a good thing. I didn’t back down. I didn’t feel pangs of shame. I stood my ground and defended my current journey. And that, ladies and gentleman, feels pretty good for someone who, two months ago, couldn’t accept himself. Or is that herself? (Pronoun trouble!)

After therapy I grab drinks with the guy who wrote me the incredibly supportive email. You know, the gay stutterer. Okay, I know that’s incredibly inappropriate, but it is kinda funny. Right? Right?

Anyhoo… we meet at a Mexican restaurant/bar and over several beers bond like there’s no tomorrow. Over stuttering. Over hiding stuttering. The tricks of the trade, like turning your head to appear contemplative when in actuality you’re struggling with a troublesome word.

We then turn to nature of coming out to people, the fear, the shame, and then the joy of dealing with groovy people. He warns me, though, that the euphoria will wear off and then I’ll need to deal with life as a transgendered individual.

It’s an amazing evening. While our circumstances are not the same, we share enough in common that I feel I met a comrade-in-arms. And a pretty cool one at that.

It’s strange. Here I thought I would lose everyone I knew when I came out, but instead I’m making new friends and strengthening bonds with old ones. And likely sipping Mint Juleps in my new Italian men’s clothes.

Note: When I began transitioning in 2014, I was known by my nickname DiG, which sufficed until I learned my mom had chosen Jennifer had my birth gone differently. So for historical sake, I leave my posts and podcasts as originally conceived, but know that my name is and apparently always was Jen.
Day 29: Subtle Segues
Day 30: New York City Comraderie, Rashomon-Style
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