I’m the Local Freak
And I’m Not Freaking Out About It. Nor Should You.
“I’ve been wanting to meet you for so long, Bethany! You are welcome here!”
That’s the greeting I received from a truly beautiful person to whose holiday gathering I was invited. Her motherly welcome was genuine, and the festivities, the meal, and the people did not disappoint. ❤
At the local dental office, the dentist herself took me aside and said, “You don’t have to worry about being trans here. I can’t imagine what you go through with some people.” Her dental care was excellent and made good on her open-door promise to me. ❤
I know, I know—you probably think I’m gonna bitch about how awkward “woke” people can be in their embrace of my trans identity. Not at all. I am affirmed by people’s embrace of me and their sincere follow-through.
It Don’t Come Easy
That doesn’t mean such experiences are easy for me. I’d like to be welcomed for my simple presence as who I am, with no preamble as to why I’m so welcome, other than my having come to the party.
Yet … my presence isn’t simple. My other articles and upcoming memoir make clear that I neither apologize for being trans nor give cis folk a free pass. I’m also not glossing over the vilification and violence that we trans persons get from transphobes, TERFs, and other hateful assholes. Last, I’m not saying that all trans and non-binary folks ought to adopt my response as proscriptive.
Growing up, I did everything in my power to hide my self-perceived freakishness. Part of that chameleon motivation was self-preservation, but a large portion of it was simply the attempt to avoid being who I am.
Now I embrace the exhilaration of being me. Oh, the joy of realizing that what I mistook for freakishness is my one true liberty.
Amid that exhilaration though, even my happy social interactions show that who I am freaks out cis people. I’m ironically now the novelty, the oddity, the carney-show exhibit that I’d previously, desperately avoided.
For me, being trans means not just embracing me as I am but also embracing everyone else’s encounter with the odd, the different. What we fear about ourselves as hideous, unclean, untouchable is dissipated with a simple “Yes! You and I are one. As I welcome you, I welcome me.”
A Condition of Complete Simplicity
Just because it’s simple doesn’t mean we easily do it.
I didn’t welcome this role for myself. Then again, I didn’t welcome being the Bethany I am until I’d exhausted every other alternative and nearly my life.
So I’m the local freak. And I’m okay with that.
Coda: Where Everybody Knows Your Name
It’s as simple as the pub I have the joy of going to multiple times a week, not just ’cuz it’s in my apartment building but because its owner, staff, and patrons welcome me in a way that, for decades, I simply found impossible.
To The Laureate Publick House in Loveland, Colorado, I love you.❤
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