Warrior drama

Around that point I discovered I wanted to have what you can call a gender transition, which is a strange word for a long process of finding new names and renegotiating how people see you. I didn’t experience this as a destiny or as the revelation of a formerly hidden essence of myself; and yet I had wanted to do this for decades, but had been too scared. So much of gender is symbolized by clothes and looks, so I found myself buying a bunch of new clothes and accessories. I soon found out that there was nothing stopping me — except anxiety — from going out and buying all the femininity I could afford. Which wasn’t much.

One day I left the drugstore in a hurry, with my disposable razors and my coconut chapstick and my colossally overpriced mascara, and I had on my teaching clothes for my adjunct job. This outfit was intended to express a slightly deadened, business-casual femininity, to discourage people from ever calling me sir, and to send solidarity to my nonbinary students. I was starting the car when a woman made big gestures to open the window.

“I wanted to give you this,” she said, handing me a bracelet, “I already have one.”

I burst out smiling because she seemed full of joy, and then I examined the bracelet, which said “warrior.” She showed me her warrior bracelet too, and as I looked up at her and saw the shaved head, I realized what she thought my short haircut was saying about my life: cancer. She made a huge air embrace and walked away, as if trying to send me all the warmth she had, and afterwards I cried a little, astounded by her warrior drama of feminine solidarity.

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