Last night I was inside a cozy bar in an Atlantic City filled with laughter and music. It was the night before the start of March Madness so there was quite a buzz at the bar which was right next to a huge room riddled with television screens playing every sort of live sporting event. I found myself sitting next to an attractive woman. The warm atmosphere was inviting, and we were in the mood for a friendly conversation.
You see, I’d just prior got hit on by a drunk guy who came over as a dare from his friends. “I’m quite drunk and my friends said I didn’t have the guts to come over to talk to a transgender girl”, he said. I sat still for a moment and contemplated before responding. I glanced at his friend’s from across the bar all giggling, pointing and sneaking glances at us. I replied, “Sorry, but I’m not interested in your fantasy experiment”. He left.
I glanced to my right and I wanted to focus on the woman had sat down next to me just before my conversation with the guy.
She had platinum blonde hair, forty something and was quite attractive. She began, “I couldn’t help but hear the conversation. That must be frustrating.”
She continued, “You have a unique sense of style and confidence. I’m intrigued. Hi, I’m Susan. How’s your evening going?” she asked, extending her hand for a handshake.
I accepted her handshake and replied, “Nice to meet you, Susan. I’m Gwen. My evening was going well up intil a moment ago, thank you.”
As we chatted, we discovered that we had a lot in common, including our love for fashion and music. Susan was a straight, married woman who valued open-mindedness and understanding different perspectives. She noticed that I seemed open and willing to share, and she felt compelled to ask about my experiences as a transgender woman.
“Gwen, I hope you don’t mind me asking, but I’m really interested in learning more about your journey. I’m an ally, and I want to better understand transgender experiences. Would you be comfortable sharing your story with me?”
I appreciated Susan’s respectful and curious approach. I nodded and said, “Sure, I don’t mind at all. I always appreciate when people are genuinely interested in understanding.”
As I shared my experiences, Susan listened attentively and asked thoughtful questions. She wanted to ensure that she was being respectful and showing her support.
“Thank you for sharing your story with me, Gwen. It takes courage to be who you truly are. Can I ask you another question? Would you be comfortable showing me a picture of your male self?”
I hesitated for a moment, but seeing the genuine curiosity in Susan’s eyes, I agreed. “Alright, here’s a picture of me from a few years ago,” I said, pulling out my phone and showing Susan an image.
Susan studied the photo for a moment and then looked back at Gwen with a smile. “You’ve come so far, and you look so happy and confident now. I have to say, you’re quite attractive as a man and a woman. Thank you for trusting me and sharing this with me.”
As the evening progressed, we continued to talk and laugh. We realized that despite our differences, we had a lot in common and enjoyed each other’s company. Eventually, the night came to an end, and it was time to say goodbye.
“I’m so glad we met tonight, Gwen. I’ve learned a lot from you, and I hope we can stay in touch,” Susan said sincerely.
I smiled warmly. “I enjoyed our conversation too, Susan. It’s not often that I meet someone so open and willing to learn. Let’s definitely keep in touch.”
With that, we exchanged contact information and went our separate ways. I left feeling grateful for the unexpected friendship that had blossomed that night.
I’ve always felt that how we carry ourselves, reflects on the entire community. Reinforcing a viewpoint of another or changing the previous held negative belief is so fulfilling.