When I met my friend and business associate over a decade ago, it was evident from his behavior and angst that some troubling matter lay bubbling inside like lava surging below an inactive volcano. A few months ago and quite by accident, I made a telling discovery; one that has given pause to consider the many others among us enslaved by societal norms that constrain our ability to be ourselves.
On that day as I entered his office, I observed an attractive young woman sitting at his desk and looking like my friend’s female twin. Oddly, my first thought upon seeing her—despite a calendar date that belied it—was: Halloween costume? After overcoming my initial reaction, I enjoyed my first conversation with a new confident and relaxed friend.
On that day, I learned that my friend had endured—I assume—immeasurable suffering and emotional distress for many years. Now, my friend had found the courage to proclaim her true identity. Because of the nature of her business field, she has lived another version of a double life, wearing the accoutrements of her old life in professional settings until the outside world gained comfort in the fact that her sexual transition would not interfere with business.
That time has finally passed, and today she is free for the first time to live her life as she believes it always was meant to be. I am inspired by her fortitude and congratulate her for successfully overcoming a societal ethos that bound her for so long.
Art by Kimberley Hunn