During transition there is an awkward time before fully adopting one’s new identity and beginning the “real life experience”. While I was in the stage of transition where I was living a large portion of my non-work time in my new identity I had a rather awkward experience that I now find rather amusing in retrospect.
I had been out with my friend and her 3 year old daughter. We had stopped so that my friend could pop into a drug store to pick up a few things before I dropped them off at their home. Rather than go through the contortions involved in getting her daughter out of the car seat, out of the car, corralled through the store, back to the car and into her seat I waited in the car with the little one. I don’t recall exactly what I was wearing, but it was most likely androgynous. The car was rather noticeable.
While we were waiting the little one was kicking the back of the passenger seat, leaving mud and dirt on the seat with her shoes. I had asked her to stop more than once and she wouldn’t stop so I took her shoes off of her feet. Socks don’t leave a mark. Not long after taking the shoes off someone comes up to the open passenger side window and says hi to me. I had known this person from back in Toronto, she had worked for my former spouse and I had also worked with her on a couple of small projects. Prior to my separation we had seen her at church a couple of times and she knew what my car looked like.
We chatted for a bit, with my friend’s daughter being a part of some of the conversation, when my friend’s daughter pipes up with, “Talia took my shoes off because I was kicking the seat.” My heart stopped. I was nowhere near ready to be out to the wider world yet. I didn’t react outwardly, went on with the discussion and she went on her way.
Looking back I get a good laugh out of the whole incident. I haven’t seen her since, so I don’t know if she later put two and two together if / when I changed my name and started living as Talia full time. Lesson re-learned? If a young child knows something or is calling you by a new name, expect her to use it at the most inopportune times.
— Talia Johnson