By Kimberly Coleman
(Disclaimer: All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.)
Horseback riding at our favorite Annapolis farm, Megan and I talked about our children and the end of summer. We’re looking forward to school starting. My youngest, Carolyn can hardly wait until pre-school begins. The others, Jeremy and Craig will return to their elementary school in a few days. Jeremy has been having trouble in school since last year. After several of his classmates found out that his dad wore a dress to a Halloween party, they’ve been teasing him relentlessly.
“It was a costume, meant for fun,” I tried to console Jeremy, “your father wore a dress because I wanted to wear a man’s suit.”
“Why aren’t they teasing me about you?” he often cries or walks away angry.
Sharing details of Jeremy’s troubles at school, my eyes filled up with tears. Megan didn’t know the entire story. She thought I was crying about Jeremy.
“What’s going on Jenny?” Megan questioned as we continued riding our horses alongside each other. “Concerned about your son?”
“No. No, no that’s not it.”
After a few moments centering, I decided it’s time to tell my closest friend, the woman who’s known my husband Andrew and I since college, the truth.
How can I keep this secret from her! It’s pulling my life apart in every direction! Keeping secrets is how I cope, how I’ve been coping since Andrew told me in college he’s confused about his gender. It’s more than being confused, he said decades ago while we were students at the University of Maryland. Back then, he confided he’s been experimenting with female hormones. However, he told me he didn’t want to become a woman. Foolishly, I believed him.
At the time, I was an innocent freshman studying human resources. My dad expected me to work in the family business, a trucking company covering most of the eastern seaboard since 1973. Already, my brothers had taken senior management positions. Dealing with employee payroll and benefits seemed like the obvious role for me in a male-dominated business. Growing up in the Baptist church with a traditional family, I felt obligated to follow my parent’s lead. It was either this, or become a homemaker like my mom – not something I wanted!
During freshman orientation I met Andrew, a very handsome, six foot tall African-American whose very personable and funny personality made him someone I instantly wanted to know as a friend. Andrew was a junior, studying journalism. He had no hesitation sharing his dreams of becoming a freelance journalist who’d travel the world.
As our friendship grew, Andrew confided in me. Considering he didn’t want to become a woman, I chose to forget about his gender issues. In spite of our parents’ concerns, our friendship evolved to dating and then marriage. Decades passed. We have three beautiful children. Life was perfect! So, I thought.
These are my tears, words I’ve yet to tell Megan. Yesterday Andrew announced he’s made plans, without consulting me, to undergo gender reassignment surgery.
To be continued…