Trans Awareness Week, One Year After Coming Out

So this is a departure from the usual content on the blog. In honor of Trans Awareness Week (November 13th – 19th), I wanted to write up a quick look at the last year since coming out in later October 2020. A helluva lot has happened, good and bad, and I can safely say that I have no idea where I’d be now if I didn’t come out when I did.

It’s roughly a year since my girlfriend and I moved into our house. The renovations, the redecorating, getting used to a different kind of living, it’s been a learning experience for sure. The benefits of having our own washer and dryer are not lost on me, even if they have been a little temperamental. I now have a proper office for myself, a little corner of the basement where I can write and craft and play games without sitting back to back with my partner. Sharing an office in our apartment was fine, but I know she’s getting far more done with her own dedicated office.

I’ve been through three jobs in the course of a year, which has been a major source of anxiety. The antiques warehouse seemed like a good fit until it wasn’t, and I found myself let go on the day I was scheduled to go in for my first HRT consultation. Needless to say, I rescheduled a couple weeks later. Then there was the dive bar down the road from the house, a job I took out of necessity. I figured I’d work there until I could get my writing off the ground to the point where I could support myself, or bide my time until I could get work with benefits to help cover medication costs.

And then Cafe Euphoria came along, almost falling into my lap. “Executive Chef” was too tempting a title to turn down, so of course I jumped on it. Since joining the Euphoria team, I’ve been busier than ever working to get this restaurant open. There have been ups and downs, sure, but thats to be expected with any job of this scale. In spite of all the stress, the mounting anxieties of running a business (even as a co-op, where I’m not taking the full burden of ownership), the imposter syndrome telling me I can’t possibly do this, I’m sitting here now in the cafe itself. It’s just out of reach, but we’re getting closer and closer to opening our doors.

I don’t know that I can say my skills as a chef have improved more than my confidence in my abilities has grown. The many test kitchen dinners we ran showed me that I can make food that the community wants to buy, not simply to support the trans and gender non-conforming folks out here but because they actually like it. I didn’t go to culinary school, I’m just taking the skills I developed as a home cook and the experience I gained in the restaurant industry to make the kind of food I love. It warms my heart to see that people are so excited for my cooking, and I hope that I can help make some memories around my meals.

This year has also seen my transformation into something of a public figure, entirely thanks to the cafe. Being out on social media, being seen by the local communities and known as “Chef Tucker” is something I’ve had to adjust to. I spent so many years hiding myself that I learned to dread this kind of recognition. It’s something I’m still learning to navigate.

I also got my first out-of-the-blue DM from a trans woman in the area saying how inspirational I was, how beautiful I looked in all of the Instagram and Facebook posts for the cafe, how much she was looking forward to the cafe opening up and having a space to exist freely in. I’ll admit that it threw me off because I had never gotten a message like that. The genuine excitement from this person was just one snapshot of the buzz that the cafe has been building, and that itself is an exhilarating feeling.

Even more exciting than the cafe, for me at least, is finally getting on hormones. It’s hard to describe the feeling of finally, finally loving myself after starting my medical transition. Sure, it’s been less than a year but it feel like so much has changed physically. I’ve got boobs now! My face is softer, my hair is longer (not an HRT thing but still fun), but my eyes are what gets me. I see myself in the mirror and my eyes are bright and filled with joy, a joy I haven’t seen for a very long time. I can smile again and it doesn’t feel like I’m grimacing. Granted, I still can’t smile for a photo and look like a normal human being, but that’s what happens when you’re learning to smile again.

The height of the COVID-19 pandemic came and went, and I’m fully expecting things to continue like they are (i.e. poorly) for at least another year. I don’t know that I’ll ever be comfortable in crowded spaces without a mask again, certainly not for the next few years. And truly the lasting effects of the pandemic have weeded out the people in my life who have fallen for anti-science rhetoric, be it from Q or the GOP. The people who see this pandemic as a far-left conspiracy are exactly the kind of people who see my existence as a trans woman as nothing more than some sick perversion. To those people, I hope that one day you can see the world in a different light and learn to accept people for who they are. Our lives are just as important as yours, and we deserve to exist as freely as you do.

At the end of the day, when I take off my bra and my makeup and curl up on the couch with a hot drink or a pint of ice cream, I can’t help but smile. When I catch myself in the mirror in the morning, I can’t help but smile. When I walk around town and a woman compliments me on my outfit, I can’t help but smile. I’ve smiled more in the last year than I have in the 10 years before, and I can’t wait to see what kind of joy the next 10 will bring.

To any trans folks out there who need to hear it: Despite how dangerous it is for us right now, despite the outrage surrounding us, I’m happy to risk it all to be my truest self. I will always choose transitioning into a happy woman over suffering through life as a miserable, depressed man. To all the trans men, women, nonbinary folks and anyone else who needs to hear it, you are loved and you are important.

One year ago, I was still learning how to exist in society as a woman. Trans Awareness Week came and went without much fanfare. I had no idea what was in store for me, and I was more worried about my job and how my family (and my partner’s family) would react at Christmas when they saw me after coming out. Now, one year later, I’m happier than ever before. I still have bad days, but I know that those days will pass. This week is important for me now, because it’s a milestone in my life. The world knows I’m trans, and I’ll be damned if they aren’t aware of me now.

So thank you, dear reader, for supporting the blog here. Even if you skim through all of my posts, thank you. I hope to do more with this down the line, but for now I’m happy with where it’s at. If you know a trans person who needs some good vibes, send them over! If you know someone who needs a new perspective on trans people, send them over too. I’ve dealt with hate mail before, so I’m not worried about that. If anything I write lets someone figure something out about themselves, I’ll count it as a win.

Thank you for reading, I’ll be back soon with more recipes and other such posts. Stay hungry folks, and happy Trans Awareness Week!

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