I met Jo Dawn many years ago. A quirky single middle aged woman living in New Mexico, raised on a farm and raising goats and tending horses in her spare time from her no nonsense job tending to the mentally ill and frequently violent male population of New Mexico’s prison system. From what I remember she was a gangly woman, all arms and legs, taller than myself with short hair, a horrid sense of fashion, and a ready smile. Sharp witted and raucously funny with a story appropriate and ready for any occasion. This is the woman I knew, independent, hard working, strong, a bit clumsy with a propensity for head trauma and concussions, but determined and willing to face her world head on.
The years have seen periods of inactivity between us, years of limited emails and nearly no actual conversations yet something remains of a friendship formed so long ago. I’m visiting JD today for lunch and I wonder what I will find when I arrive. I know that Jo Dawn now prefers to be called just Jo. I know that Jo had a hysterectomy in January and has been on hormone therapy. I know that My friend is transitioning from female to male, and I’m puzzled and curious but hesitant to ask the questions that rattle around inside my skull.
How does testosterone make you feel?
Does the new plumbing work as it should?
Do you miss your breasts?
What I will ask without reservation is; “In your mind and body are you happy?”
I can’t pretend to understand how it must feel to live in a body that feels foreign. It’s not my job to judge her., er, his choice to become what he feels is right for him. My only job today is to be kind, try to remember to use the right pronoun and enjoy lunch with my friend and try to reconnect so that lunches become more frequent, and the emails more intimate and friendly.