The small town of Vidor Texas isn’t quite known for it’s diversity. In fact it’s known for it’s lack of it. It’s a town where racial jokes seem to be born, and a reputation for squashing anything outside of the social norm. A town in a region of Texas, that some may actually consider eastern Louisiana, where craw fish is celebrated, and gumbo is simply what’s for dinner. A place where many people work in the refineries and plants or off shore on the oil rigs, a man’s world to say the least.
In this town lives someone very special to me. Someone I met through Facebook as I happened across some posts from a girl in a situation not unlike my own. Someone who felt trapped, and alone and not sure where her life was going.
We’ve all been there you see. As much as we trans people want to think we are like other ethnic groups, we think we should follow the same civil rights play book, have the same outlook, and combat peoples impressions of us in the same way black people did in the 60’s. The truth is we are different. For most of us in our thirties, and older, we grew up in a time before the internet. We grew up not even knowing there were other’s like us. Where most ethnic groups have a built in support system in their family, our family typically has no idea of who we are until we finally are brave enough to accept ourselves. For many of us talk shows, or jokes were the only exposure to other trans people we had until we got to the point to realize what we were, and perhaps happened across some forum in this new thing we call the Internet.
I “friended” this person and wanted to let her know she wasn’t alone. But, the first surprise of many was the fact that this friend, in such need of my help, had already begun her own blossoming, even with out my help. This girl who worked in a plant surrounded by manly men, was already becoming known in her little community through facebook, even if people didn’t know who she really was.
Soon after we met my friend decided to tweeze her eyebrows a little more then she should. A mistake so many of us make. As we become hypnotized by the vision of perfect feminine eyebrows we tweeze a little more, a little more, then finally too much. And suddenly we’re faced with the panic of our coworkers seeing our misguided masterpiece the next day at work. Such was the case of my friend.
Her panicked facebook post, and message, stating the huge “OMG, What have I Done”, and my bluffing reply that everything will be ok. I said to her “what’s done is done, now own it.” The truth is, I was scared to death for her. I was scared to death to think of myself in the same situation, but now isn’t the time for panic. It’s a time for confidence. Little did I know how much confidence my little east texan brave heart would build starting with this one incident.
People tell me how brave I must be, they tell me how confident they think I am, and how amazing it is for me to be transitioning, and dealing with peoples ideas and misconceptions about what trans people are. But, the truth of the matter is, I live in Montrose, an area of Houston that is very GLBT friendly. If I go to a shop, or restaurant, chances are, I’m not the first trans person to spend a buck there.
Vidor is much different. You see, chances are, any shop or restaurant in this slice of East Texan heaven has never had a trans person, or the rest of the glb alphabet soup cross through their door, and it’s quite possible that Jerry Springer and juvenile jokes are the only education about transgender people these residents have had.
Now, a little over a year later, I’ve since met my friend in real life, we’ve become close, and her life has seemed to explode.
In the time I’ve known her, she’s come out to her family, she’s continued her vloging, she’s experienced Houston’s Pride celebration, she’s been out with her family as her self, she’s become open at work, she’s help put together a East Texas support group, she’s become a mainstay at a bar in Beaumont, her relationship with her daughters, that really only a father transitioning can have, has flourished, and her mother accompanied her to the little gay bar in Beaumont to meet her friends from Houston this past weekend.
She has become an inspiration for many with her incredible positive, live life as it comes attitude. And even if once, I was there to pretend to have the confidence enough to try to inspire her, she has been the one to inspire me.
Isn’t that the way we trannies do it? We have to allow our collective experiences be the stepping stones of our progress. We have to get our inspiration where we can. Our tranny family is our support group.
It may not be a kilt my little East Texan Brave Heart wears, but her skirt is just as fierce!