Trans tales from the South:

Episode One

It’s no secret that firearms are ubiquitous down here in the South. In my socio-economic class, children are taught to hold guns before they can hold a writing instrument. The moment a child is pulled, wailing and kicking, from their mother’s breast, they are immediately given a .22 rifle with which to soothe themselves. So please considered all of this as you are repeatedly jarred by my choppy prose and my questionable grammar…I just can’t help it! As a child, if I wasn’t reading the Holy Bible, I was shooting at something, reading about someone shooting something, or watching someone shooting something. However, in my case, I was also rummaging through my momma’s panty drawer, hence the title of this piece…

It is safe to say that I was an avid gun enthusiast in my previous life and I certainly don’t foresee that changing anytime soon. Just the other day, I was shaking down my new Mark III Ruger 22/45 Target Pistol- the third one I’ve owned in fact. I’ve also recently restored a number of vintage firearms to factory condition and have two more in progress. But please know that I always wear protective gloves over my nails lest I color them gunstock brown…Anyway, with my backstory out there, let us begin the first riveting episode…


The shooting range that I visit is up on a sandstone ridge in the Appalachian region of extreme Northeastern Alabama. When I say this is some rough and isolated country with some rough and isolated folks, I ain’t fibbing! The trip up there is a veritable tour of economic blight, of junkyards full of forgotten and rusting Dodge Neons, Jesus Saves signs, and Confederate flags for every man, woman, and child. So, here I find myself, in my big, estrogen-laden pickup truck, dressed about two social classes above the local ladies. But, before reaching the range, I decided to stop off at a gun store in a small, sleepy town…

This such and such town, for the rare student of Alabama history, was the epicenter of lynchings and civil rights violations just a generation or two ago. Every time I enter it, which isn’t often, I have to remember the risks I’m taking. Just a few years ago, had I been out in daylight dressed as I am now, I could have sure-as-shit betted on being at the end of a rope by sundown! They certainly don’t take too kindly to “sissy-men” in these parts. Sad to say, but even my big pickup truck and very pronounced Appalachian twang probably wouldn’t save me! But geez, a girl needs her .22 ammo…right?

I can’t tell you of the secret delight that I always feel when I see the burly men in stores like this one nearly mess in their Depends when I come clicking in with my knee-high boots, leggings, and a cute ladies Ruger t-shirt. Perhaps I am pressing my luck terribly? Even the numerous mounted deer heads and stuffed boars in their various agonizing poses momentarily stop and follow me with their cold glass eyes! Maybe I have my own latent issues of past shame and cowardice around men like these? Perhaps, I see a part of my old self in these types? Just a few years ago, I could have easily become one of these beer-bellied bubbas as compensation and to obscure who I really am. Damn, it would have been far simpler! I had the denial beard and even now drive a pickup truck! But for some unknown reason, as I become a woman externally, I am still a sucker for a big gun store. I frequent them almost as often as some in our community go to drag shows. Yet, I must confess that it is cathartic and deeply therapeutic to finally reveal myself for who I am in this environment and among these people.


I happen to have an encyclopedic knowledge of weapons and can discuss the merits of rifle and handgun calibers, Colt versus Kimber, full choke or improved cylinder and so on. Thus, it’s even more satisfying when these types of men, who dwell in this hyper- masculine world of hunting and guns and to whom women are merely walking sex-toys, are suddenly forced to offer grudging deference to a tall, impeccably dressed woman who knows their language. Its worth mentioning that on this particular day, the cold or confused stares with which I had been met now became fascinated smirks. This was only after I concluded a long discussion on Remington 1100 shotguns and the history of the 7.62x39 mm rifle cartridge mind you. I slapped down my pretty bank card customized with a mountain image on it and couldn’t help but notice that my long, polished nails and Pandora jewelry caught the wandering eyes of the male sales clerk. I quickly purchased my ammo, spun on my heels, and sashayed out the way I had come. I was seen off with the customary ma’ams and well wishes. However, this was most likely a ruse or an exercise in passive aggression and apparently not in the least sincere…but God only knows!

I stopped off at a 60 year-old drugstore complete with an authentic soda fountain later that afternoon. I was treated with sincere kindness and the utmost respect (I can always detect the real thing.) The place was packed with locals straight out of the hollows or off the farm. I slowly consumed my amazing chicken salad and tall fountain drink in total peace and strangely felt no eyes drilling into the back of my head or the usual oblique stares. As I approached the cash register, I was informed that someone had already payed my bill. Whaaat? My jaw nearly hit the floor! I glanced around and the place was still filled with “simple” country folks. Heck, Had I looked close enough, one of the men from the store might have been sitting there. Was there some conservative evangelical deacon with a sneaker for tranny-porn lurking about? I don’t know! The room gave me nothing…no one was gawking or gave me any look that would signal that they were responsible. Only the sounds of silverware screeching upon ceramic plates and the random din of conversations about nothing in particular could be heard…

I was nearly in tears upon walking out into the cool, winter sunlight that day. I suddenly felt that hope was worth holding on to again! Like anywhere, the South is replete with jarring contrasts between beauty and despair, acceptance and rejection, and fear and contentment. Like the unpredictable and ever-changing weather of these southern mountains, one can experience all of these emotions in a single day. I am fast coming to the realization that I will forever dwell in the interstices of the lives of “normal” people. More incredibly, I am becoming OK with that…

Till next time y’all…