Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Showtime: Reading a Sweaty Letter

On Monday, March 10, 2013, I read my letter to the management of the bookstore where I work.

The day before, I went to Gettysburg with Linda Lewis, so I was really tired.  Yet, I couldn't sleep that night due to nerves.  I kept waking up.  In my dreams, I was chasing ghosts alongside superheroes in a town of very tall dorms. 

Paging Dr. Freud!

Tell me more about your Childhood

In any case, when dawn broke I showered and had a glass of milk for breakfast.  I read through the letter a couple more times, then left for work in the early morning light.

I arrived at work, and texted my "Big Sister" Mel the same thing I text her each time I'm about to do a major step like this:  "Showtime."  I then walked across the parking lot to the store.

I hoped I'd be able to read my letter right away.  Nope.  The managers were discussing something in the manager meeting, and I was told to do the Opening Cash Room Procedure by myself for the first time.  And of course, my mind blanked as to what to do.

Go figure, I had something else on my mind.

In any case, one of the managers kindly came to the cash room and gave me a clue, then it all came back to me.  My hands were shaking. 

I was finishing my duties when the HR guy from the head office in New York arrived to join the regional HR person who was already there.  He'd taken the train down just to be there for me.  And believe me, I was grateful.  He has helped five people through transition on the job in the Chain, and is the HRC contact person.  I finished what I needed to do when I was paged to the break room, where the managers' meeting had reconvened.

The letter was folded in my pocket.  It was damp from sweat. 

Why was I nervous?  HR was behind me, right?  But I was baring my soul... my greatest Secret.  I would be metaphorically naked in front of them- defenseless. 

The Regional HR person introduced the idea as "very good news" and a "happy day in the life of one of the staff."  And she was right.  She framed it perfectly.  Then all eyes turned to me.  I pulled the letter from my pocket and said "I wrote down what I wanted to say."  There was a nervous chuckle from management.

And so I began.  As a former teacher, I'm a practiced public speaker.  Having read through the piece several times, and practiced it, I read it clearly; pausing for emphasis when I felt it necessary. 

My voice only cracked a few times as I fought for control. 

I looked around as I spoke.  One of the managers was smiling ear to ear (she'd suspected that I was at least a crossdresser).  Another watched in stunned silence- eyes wide and jaw dropped.  The rest did their best professional detachment look. 

And then I was finished reading.

An eternity of silence that maybe lasted two heartbeats.

Then discussion began.  As did the smiles.  Everyone was so very supportive.  I was drenched with sweat.

The head manager mentioned several times that "within these walls is a safe zone" where I could feel comfortable being myself.

That he looks forward to working with Sophie.

The wave of adrenaline passed.  I was shaking and exhausted.  All I wanted to do was lay down to take a nap.  But the store was about to open, and I had seven more long hours of work ahead of me.  Some of the managers hugged me, congratulated me, and wished me the best.

Do you have a member card?

During the day, some of the managers asked me questions about the usual things- the questions all my Trans-readers all know so well.  "What does it feel like?"  "Why the name Sophie?" "How do you know-really?"  Several of the managers asked about this blog, which I mentioned during the Q&A after my letter. 

If any of you are reading this, welcome to the Blog!  I hope that what I write helps you understand, if only a little.  For the background of Me and the other questions, I refer you to my Codex Sophie entry which defines terms and answers basic background questions that my elite 93 subscribers already know (and two of these are new!  Welcome to you as well!)

I felt welcomed- comfortable- and very warm.  I was so happy.  The meeting couldn't have realistically gone better than it did.  The rest of the day dragged by as the store was a little slow.

That night, Linda Lewis and Mel took me out to Shangrila to celebrate.  I had General Tso's chicken and several glasses of wine.  After all, I didn't drive!  At the end of dinner, I decided to chew on one of those black peppers that came in the dish.  Big mistake!

So a day that began with nervous sweat ended with me pouring sweat and chugging little half-and-half cups to quell the fire pit that was my tongue.

The next day at work I was there before sunrise as usual, slightly hungover, but it was business as usual for a Tuesday.  Another day closer to the end of my life as Lance and the beginning of my real life as a Woman.  As Sophie.  For Good or for Ill, that's where my life is headed.

In my letter, I wrote that "I have waited 43 years for this day and never thought it would happen, but it is finally happening, and I feel like my life is finally just beginning."  And it is.  How this life will be shaped is up to me, and my Wife, as we navigate the obstacles ahead.

It seems that one of those obstacles was a Phantom, and that Work will be a haven. 

I am Thankful.

In front of a random bookstore, April 2013



  1. I am SO happy for you and that it worked out as well as it did. Management made their declarations and trust that they will follow their words with actions. Godspeed, Sophie. <3

  2. Incredible! I love hearing stories like this, especially when it's happening to my dear friend and sister.
    Congrats, beautiful!!! The ship has left the harbor!!!
    p.s. - Love the pepper experience! lol

  3. This story is what many of us who are transitioning hope will be like when we also make that final decision to go fulltime at work as well as in everyday life. I'm very proud and happy for you my best friend and sister. :-)

    I think you learned your lesson with the black peppers as well. ;-)


  4. congratulations Sophie! you are on your way. i am sooo happy and proud for you! good luck on your journey!

  5. OMG, i'm so happy for you. i can truly say seeing i have no group speaking ability i would so just clam up and probably have run out the room crying, (i've done that before on a few occations). *raises wine glass* here's to the start of your new life where ever it takes you i hope it's always sunny. :)

  6. Sophie!!

    Wooooo Hoooooooo! You've done it. YOU'VE DONE IT! Let the celebration, and the rest of your life, of womanhood begin.

    I am overjoyed that it went so well. You work for a quality bookseller that clearly cares for its most valuable assets. I predict a soaring career as the woman in charge.

    Best regards,

  7. Raising a glass of wine to you, sister, and I am so happy that this day came for you, and even happier that the day is coming next week, when you can start your life and not have to hide anymore. Never again....