|Ready for the Hall of Fame|
My favorite photo of me is one that I self-took after I got dressed to kill to attend my law school class reunion in June 2012. I like the photo for a number of reasons: I love the outfit I put together and I don't look bad for a 61-year-old woman.
But also, the photo is my favorite because attending the reunion was probably the most daring thing I ever did. Unlike other outings where I forewarned my friends and acquaintances, I went into the reunion cold. My name was on the guest list, so my classmates knew I would be attending, but they had no idea I would be attending in my true gender.
By the way, as I wrote here back in 2012, "My law school reunion experience was just fabulous!"
Here's the whole story.
For those of you out of the loop, on Saturday evening, I attended my law school reunion at the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA.
Getting ready yesterday afternoon, I cut myself badly using a new blade in my razor. It was a deep cut just under my left nostril and it took forever to stop bleeding. As a result, it took me longer to do my makeup, initially working around the cut, then waiting for the bleeding to stop when I could go no further by working around it. Luckily, I started doing my makeup early enough so that any technical difficulties would not affect my arrival time at the Hall of Fame.
I was dressed and out the door (after snapping a few photos) at 4:45 PM to make the 50-mile trip by 6 PM when the cocktail hour began. On the way, the traffic message boards on the interstate informed me that the exit I had to take to switch from I-84 to I-91 was closed and it recommended a detour via another highway.
I thought about driving to an exit before the closed exit and trying to work my way via the Hartford city streets to an I-91 entrance, but I was familiar with the recommended detour and figured I would only lose 10 minutes, whereas who knew how much time Plan A would cost me. So I took the detour and lost about 20 minutes instead of 10.
The rest of the trip was smooth-sailing and I arrived at the Hall of Fame at 5:55 PM ― perfect timing!
I entered the Hall of Fame complex and quickly found the site of the reunion. I was in error in that I thought that the reunion would be held in the Center Court banquet hall. Instead, it took place in a smaller banquet hall in the complex. It was not as spectacular as I pictured the Center Court, but it was very nice nonetheless.
I checked in and immediately encountered the woman who I had exchanged a few e-mails with concerning the reunion. I introduced myself; she welcomed me and helped me find my name badge.
There were about 20 people already in attendance. I recognized one of my classmates, CR, a woman who I considered a school acquaintance, not a long lost friend. I said hello to her and she returned a hello, while looking at my name badge trying to figure out who I was (the badge listed Stana, my real last name, and my class year, 1977).
She was carrying a copy of our class yearbook, so I suggested she look me up in the yearbook to refresh her memory. She did and when she put two-and-two together, she exclaimed, "Oh my god! Stanley, you are beautiful now!"
She gushed over how I had changed and then we chatted a bit trying to catch up on the past 35 years in five minutes. CR was distracted by another person, who I did not recognize, so I went to the bar and got a glass of white wine.
|My Classmates and I|
An aside, as it turned out, there were nine people in my class who made it to the reunion. Four women and five men. All the women came solo and all five men came with their wives. I believe that the three other women are unattached.
Both PM and LF welcomed me with open arms as if we were old girlfriends and not just acquaintances (I think CR had informed them of my presence before I found their table, so they were expecting me). I did not recognize JB immediately, but when I realized it was my old friend, I greeted him warmly and gave him a hug. His wife, EB, introduced herself and she was very welcoming, too. We all exchanged our stories about the last 35 years, but the women were more interested in hearing my story than relating theirs to me. So as not to disappoint, I obliged and held an impromptu outreach session.
Another friend, MM, showed up and he greeted me like the old friends we were.
The cocktail hour flew by and before I knew it, PM was beckoning me to join her at the 1977 table in the dining room. I sat down next to PM and we chatted forever, mostly about me. She assumed that I was a post-op TS and I explained that I was not. Actually, everyone I talked to about being transgender assumed I was post-op and I explained to all of them that I was not.
PM said that I was undoubtedly a woman and that I was more of a woman than she was! She said she never felt like a "woman" and was not sure what it meant to feel like a woman. I basically said we are what we are, but society pigeonholes us as "men" or "women" according to their "standards."
After dinner, which by the way, was excellent, I had a long discussion with EB about being transgender. EB is in the entertainment industry in New York City and as a result, she is familiar with transgenders and knows where I am coming from more or less.
I mentioned to her that her husband, JB, was the person who told me at the law school Halloween party 36 years ago, that he never realized how feminine I was until he saw me in my costume en femme and realized that it was such a good fit for me and my personality, mannerisms, etc.
MM sat down next to me to chat a bit and said that I was very brave to do what I did. And I replied with my standard comeback to the bravery comment, that is, I don't consider it brave to be yourself… to be what who you are. But he said I was too modest and that if he was in the same situation, he doubted if he could do what I did.
Maybe, maybe not, but it was very nice of MM to say what he did. In fact, I received nothing but support and positive words from all my classmates.
I did not mix much with the other attendees; there was not much time to do so. But early on, one woman from the class of 2006 introduced herself and we had a short chat about what we had in common, that is, the mispronunciation of our first names. Her name is Zoe and people call her Zo or Zo-ee. About half the people pronounced my name correctly (rhymes with Donna) and the other half got it wrong, but I didn't mind.
The only other non-classmate I recall speaking with was a professor who dined at our table and sat right next to me. He began teaching at the school the year after I graduated, so he did not know me from the school, but I asked him about what happened to some of the people I worked with way back when (I worked in the library while attending law school) and he tried to fill me in on what he remembered (not much as it turned out).
Another aside... the three female classmates who I conversed with extensively at the reunion seldom spoke to me when we were attending law school. I cannot recall having an extended conversation with any of them back then.
So, needless to say, I was very surprised how well they interfaced with me at the reunion. It was like we were four old girlfriends reliving the past. I assure you that I am not complaining, but I was very surprised nonetheless.
The evening ended much too quickly and I was on my way home at 10:30 PM.
I had a wonderful time to put it mildly!