The alarm went off at six in the morning and I continued to lie there for a few minutes, smiling pleasantly to myself and the black cat, Spooky-Mulder, curled against my side. This was a rare treat for both of us, as my Friday morning alarm is typically set for five. Today, I was not going to work. I would still teach and still interact with students, but none of them would be my students.
I began my transition a year a ago; well just a smidgen, as A.A. Milne would say, over a year ago. And in my transition, my regeneration, I still feel closer to the residents of the 100 Aker Wood than I do a mature and knowledge adult. My world is still centred around the joy and anguish of discovery. Everything is still new, sensations, expectations, introspections, and socialisations. Like the little girl I was and wasn’t, I am in constant awe of a world that is not what it seems and hides a myriad of pleasant and unpleasant surprises. Like all children, I am primarily hedonistic. With so much that is new it is impossible not to be. Yet, on an increasing basis I find myself being pulled from my life as a child of the Wood and into the role of the expert. Like Hawkeye Pierce, I find myself having to answer the question ‘who are you?’ with ‘I am the pro from Dover.’
That is why I got to sleep an extra hour; I am being called upon as the pro, again. In the last eight months I have been on a panel discussing the experience of being part of the Gender and Sexuality Minorities (GSM) community in the field of education, spoken to high school Gay-Staight Alliance (GSA) groups, unofficially found myself a mentor to two young lesbians, and been asked to be the sponsor for a teenage survivors of sexual assault support group. This time I am speaking to a class of Washington, DC high schoolers on the topic of trans and homophobia. ‘I am the pro from Dover.’
I was a tad nervous going in, but nothing compared to the first few times I did this and certainly nothing compared to the nerves of ‘coming out’ to family and friends. It was more the general social anxiety I feel when interacting with any person or group where I am the primary focus and I need to watch for social cues I feel disconnected from. I would feel more at home in the Ancient Library of Alexandria or the TARDIS than I do in professional situations or groups larger than three. I’m just not a socialite. So how did I get in the position I am now? How did I become ‘the pro from Dover’?
I question this. Surely, there are more qualified people with a greater breadth and depth of experience and knowledge than I. There are local trans women whose transition began longer ago, who have experienced more discrimination, who could speak with greater authority. It’s not that I have not experienced these things for I have been the victim of discrimination, bigotry fueled assault, transmisogyny, and phobias, but I do not feel my voice is worthy of being heard, that my experiences are in any way defining or particularly unique. So how did a person of novels and papers get to be the pro from Dover? The only answer I have found is it is my status as a child of the Wood that makes me a desirable speaker. I always enjoy myself and bring my marvelling at life to the conversation. Having the opportunity to express what I have experienced, getting the chance to share thoughts and opinions, spreading the sense of wonder and delight I take from the world, and helping others see the familiar in new and inspiring ways is a source of great joy. And maybe that’s what is required. Maybe it is the embracing of, the relishing in the world and its treasures that makes one ‘the pro from Dover,’ or from anywhere else!