Twice in One Week, Second Time in a Grocery Parking Lot! Good January 2018!


It’s late Thursday afternoon, and I just got home. I try to avoid grocery shopping on Fridays or the weekend–when it’s really hard to find any parking at all at my Trader Joe’s–so I stopped by to make sure I could get through the weekend without buying food. I had checked to see what I was out of or was about to run out of before I left home this morning.

I drink a lot of skim milk, so just to be sure I bought two gallons instead of one, some plain yogurt, a few apples, and a couple of sweet potatoes. (If I ever get a boyfriend who is seriously into meat, I’m going to be cooking two different meals at the same time. Challenging, but might be fun!)

I took one of my heavy-duty reusable bags into the store. I should have taken the other one in as well, because everything I bought was fairly heavy. The checker asked me how full to pack the bag before she left one of the milks loose instead of putting in the bag in my grocery cart.

Good thing. I have had cisgender people whom I have related this to snicker and refuse to believe me, but after a trans woman starts marinating in the hormone cocktail, she begins to lose muscle mass at an impressive clip. After a couple of years on hormones, she is no stronger than a cisgender woman of comparable age, height, and degree of fitness.

As a kid, I was the the weak, delicate-boned little sissy who got bullied a lot and was definitely never very muscular even with I was being poisoned by testosterone. These days, I must use gadgets to open jars, and I can no longer use some of my old luggage because I can’t pick it up.

When I got to my car and popped the trunk, I found that I could just about lift the bag out of the cart and get it into my trunk without hurting myself. I must have grunted with the effort.

A man passing by me carrying his groceries asked whether I was OK.

He seemed pleasant. I smiled. “I’m fine. It’s just a little heavy.”

This man was about my age, fit, and I liked the laugh lines around his eyes, which were brown and warm. He returned my smile. “You live around here?”

“In town, yeah.”

“How long?”

“About three years.” OK, just so you know, I realized that this had gone from politeness well into flirting, but I had something happen that morning that made me want to cry. The male attention was boosting my mood and, yes, my ego!

Let she who has never craved a lot of chocolate or some flattering attention after a bad day, cast the first stone!

So we chatted for a few minutes. He told me what he did for a living. He guessed that I was a nurse–I’m not, which I told him, but we weren’t far from a large university hospital with thousands of employees. People who meet me and chat for a few minutes usually think I’m a high-school English teacher or librarian.

He asked me whether I was seeing anybody. Up to that point everything I had said was the truth. But I did not know this man, and the sun would be going down soon. I needed to end this. I told him I had a boyfriend.

He looked disappointed. “Is it going all right?” he asked.

“Pretty well, yes.” I lifted a detail from the romantic life of one of my sisters. “Eight months.”

“Oh. That’s a shame. Well, you’re a very pretty lady. I shop here a lot.” He grinned. “I’ll keep my eyes open for you. Maybe things will change.”

The compliment threw me a little off balance so it took me a few seconds to respond. “Thank you.”

As he started to walk away, I called after him. I shouldn’t have, but I did. “You made my day!”

He had!







Reading Me by Prairie Lights

1899 bookstore

A couple of years ago, I found myself in Iowa City, Iowa. It’s a college town. I was there only because I was visiting family and giving them a chance to meet the real me. They were awfully busy most days, so one afternoon I took myself off to window shop

Like many college towns in deep red states, I found a stark contrast between the university district and the surrounding rural area I had driven through coming from the regional airport.

The countryside was covered up in billboards that said things like “Get US out of the UN!” or “God is Watching YOU!” or “Make America Great Again!” or “Build the WALL!” or “Protect Your Right to Bear Arms: VOTE!” or, of course, “God HATES Fags!”

Downtown was slightly different. It had a locally-owned-coffeehouse, feminist-yoga-studio, organic-gluten-free, all-genders-welcome, peace-through-justice, rainbow-flag-sticker-on-the-door, racial-diversity-is-wonderful atmosphere.

Anyone who thinks that America is only one country is not paying attention!

So after I parked my sub-compact car, I strolled around in the still-mild Fall weather and wandered in and out of shops, mostly women’s clothing stores.

When you finally give in to a profound need that you just can’t explain to cisgender people and stop killing yourself throttling impulses and behaviors that come quite naturally—but when you were young got you beaten up—you begin to have moments when you startle yourself.

When I first began shopping for women’s clothes and wearing them full time, I realized, after spending over three hours in the same store, that I didn’t want to stop shopping even though I had by then assembled a workable minimum wardrobe and had in the process left my credit card steaming.

I did not want to stop shopping for clothes in the way that someone who has been on a diet of salads and rice crackers for months doesn’t want to stop nibbling a slice of hot, cheesy pizza with all the toppings!

I had become—or, I suppose, had potentially always been—one of those women who will shop ‘till she drops.

I was stunned!

I had lunch with a female clinical psychologist a day or two later, and I told her about this. She laughed, and said, “Listen, if I hadn’t been able to shop for clothes for decades, I’d probably go nuts too!”

My tendency to keep shopping indefinitely has gotten better. Mostly.

My Higher Power employed to control my shopping addiction is how much debt I think I can add to my credit card before I start having anxiety attacks.

But anyway, there were so many beautiful clothes in those shops that I knew I was in trouble. I needed to get away from the clothes. So I went and found a bookstore.

This was Iowa City, the home of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop. Almost as famous among writers is the Prairie Lights Bookstore, where you are more likely to see the latest Man-Booker or Pulitzer Prize winner displayed in the front window than whatever is on top of the best-seller lists.

I had been browsing for a little while, when a cheery young woman wearing a badge that identified her as a store employee came at me.

“We are so glad you’re here!”

I had encountered friendly salespeople before but never like this!

“Um, thank you.”

“Are you ready to get started?”


“Yes, we’re all set up. Would you like some coffee or water? Oh, and if you could sign some copies of your book first, it would save time.”

The penny dropped. She thought I was an author on a book tour. Well, in a modest way, I am an author—I think I can use this incident as the raw material for a story!–but I was certainly not on a book tour.

I explained that she had the wrong woman!

A few minutes later, I saw a cardboard promotional sign about the real author. There was a picture of her.

Our hairstyles, our coloring, our ages, our builds, even the type of glasses we wore were eerily similar.

We looked like sisters!

Maybe in some alternate universe, I was the one promoting my book at Prairie Lights. You never know.

But it was deeply affirming to be read as the wrong woman!

Shopping for Guys

1900 circa women Christmas shopping window

One of the misconceptions cisgender women seem to have about transgender women is that we understand guys.

We don’t. At least, I don’t.

Although I sometimes overheard conversations of a sort that women aren’t normally privy to–I was not in the least surprised by the attitudes of some males that resulted in the widespread, utterly appalling, inexcusable, and even criminal behavior that has led to the #metoo movement–the way men think always seemed alien to me. I never really quite got it.

It was always very difficult for me to fake masculine behavior, which is why, prior to my transition, I often got read as an effeminate gay male.

Last night I had a conversation with two trans women who had been successful in faking masculinity in quite macho careers.

We compared notes.

Both of them found transition more difficult than I did because I was already engaged in a number of pursuits more typical of women than men. At the same time, I avoided, as much as I could, masculine activities that most definitely do not appeal to me or that I even find repellent.

As a result, when I transitioned, my public behavior changed much less than theirs did because I was already halfway to simply acting spontaneously as myself.

Some years ago, I had a very feminine cisgender female co-worker who was over the moon about her upcoming wedding. She giggled and said, “I will never have to think about cars again!”

Secretly I was aching with envy!

Anyway, I am now a woman who needs to quite soon come up with a gift for a masculine friend. I know something about his interests, but I don’t know what he already has. I want to get him something he will really like. Honestly, I have no idea how to proceed.

Guys are so hard to shop for!