What surrounded me as I was in the midst of celebrating my transition
By: Lorelei Erisis*/TRT Columnist—
As I sit here writing this column, it is the first day of summer, the summer solstice. It is also 11 years to the day since I started hormone replacement therapy (HRT). I took my first doses of estradiol, a synthetic estrogen, and spironolactone, a testosterone blocker, in a car at the beginning of a cross-country trip from Los Angeles to Cape Cod.
I had been living in LA for about seven years and I was returning to Cape Cod, where I grew up, to spend the summer in the home of my recently deceased grandmother. Her house, on the shore of Eel Pond in the tiny village of Monument Beach, was the closest thing I had ever had to a consistent home. I stayed there often as a youth.
My parents were always very good about providing happy homes for me but they separated when I was young and both worked a number of different jobs to support us. So throughout my childhood, we often moved around the Cape, from rental to rental, until my mom built a house for us with her own two hands (and the help of a fine group of other folks all working on each other’s houses). And it was a lovely home.
But my grandmother’s house on Eel Pond, and the family’s cottage next to it, had been there since before I had memories, and they were the last remaining physical ties I had to Cape Cod. I can close my eyes anytime and easily summon up the view looking out over the pond. And though I no longer bother to memorize my own cell phone number, I still knew the phone number for the old landline in my Gram’s house by heart.
The house was slated to be sold once the estate was settled and so it seemed fitting to go back there and stay for a few months to memorialize the end of the boy identity I had crafted for myself over many years and the beginning of my new adventure of discovering who I am as a woman. I would go home to reset my identity and begin anew.
So when I finally saw a doctor in LA who would prescribe HRT for me, and I signed the informed consent papers that would allow me to proceed without the sometimes-stigmatizing diagnosis of “gender dysphoria,” I remained patient and held on to that first filled prescription. I waited for the summer solstice, which in addition to being the longest day of the year, is also exactly six months from my birthday on the winter solstice, the first day of winter and longest night of the year.
And as luck, and my goddess Eris, would have it, the summer solstice on June 21, 2007 worked out to be the day that my girlfriend Widow and I headed out on the road, leaving LA behind. I was also leaving my life of pretending to be a boy behind. We packed as many of our belongings as possible into a tiny compact car that needed delivery to its owners in Boston several days later.
We found the car through a service that paired drivers in need of long-distance travel with cars in need of delivery. The owners of the car paid for gas and tolls within a very limited range of mileage and time. With the car packed so tightly, I could not fit in the driver’s seat, so Widow drove.
Freshly on estrogen, I read the maps (yes, physical, awkwardly large maps), DJ’ed the music, and kept the conversation lively. The deserts, canyons, and hills of Nevada and Utah seemed sublimely beautiful to me as I thought I could feel the new hormones spreading through my body. With freshly female eyes, I even managed to look on the endlessly repetitive expanses of the Midwest with something approaching awe.
And because my life is often filled with odd little adventures, as a newly minted transgender woman, Widow and I even got a personal tour of the famed Kinsey Institute at Indiana University in Bloomington. I had no idea then just how prophetic that would be for the future career I would end up embarking on, as I learned more and more about whom I was and who I am as a woman.
A day or two after that, we arrived at my Gram’s house on Eel Pond. I was a new woman in an old home.
It was still several months before I felt confident enough to stop flitting back and forth between male and female presentations, but that trip, and that specific date of June 21, 2007, is the moment I mark as the very start of my transition, my rebirth as a woman. As much as being trans is hardly a choice—and even deciding to transition and start HRT was little more than a choice between quite certain death and an uncertain life—I am so glad that I made that choice.
I rejoice every day in having chosen life, even if it was terribly frightening and incredibly uncertain. Transitioning is the best thing I have ever done for myself. I love the woman I have become. I’m glad to finally know the woman I am and have always had inside me.
Today I celebrate my re-birthday!
*Lorelei Erisis is an actor, activist, adventurer, and pageant queen. Send your questions about trans issues, gender, and sexuality to her at: [email protected].