All in all, 2018 was a good year for me.
Among the many things that happened, I legally changed my name, corrected my gender marker, Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) really started to take effect, and I completed my application for Gender Affirmation Surgery. Additionally, there were innumerable random acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and inclusion from the people around me in my life throughout the year.
It was those random acts that made 2018 the good year that it was.
This post is about three of those random acts, from different areas of my life. Healthcare, family, and grooming are all big parts of our lives and they’re things many cis people take for granted. The acts of kindness, thoughtfulness, and inclusion detailed below turned potentially traumatic events, into moments of inclusion and kindness.
As part of (HRT) I have had to take regular blood tests. Initially, it was every three months, right now it’s every six months.
Back in January of 2018, I had to take the first such blood test at the hospital in Peace River. At that time I had not yet legally changed my name or gender and so when I checked in at the hospital I was listed with the wrong name and gender. Despite what my form said, I was clearly presenting as a woman, so I was a little apprehensive going in to have my blood taken. I was anxious and nervous about how people would react upon seeing me if they had looked at my form as well.
In the waiting room, I sat until a nurse came out and called me by my deadname. I stood up and went into the exam room. Alone in the exam room with the nurse, she asked if I used a different name other than the one listed there on my form. I told her my name was Autumn. She smiled and said it was a pretty name, we made small chat as she printed the labels for the blood vials, apparently there is a doctor at the hospital also named Autumn. Then she took my blood.
My arm after having blood taken
Her sensitivity and ability to piece two and two together led to an act of effort and kindness that turned a typically terrifying experience into something pleasant. Never doubt the power of small actions on the lives on those around you.
Prior to February 2018, I hadn’t had a proper haircut since August 2014. One reason for this was that I had been growing it out The other reason was that I was petrified of hair salons.
For almost four years I mostly kept my hair in a ponytail. Very occasionally I would trim it myself and a couple of times, my partner or her sister trimmed it but I didn’t set foot in a hairdresser. To be blunt, I worried what would happen if I had the wrong hairdresser, what if they were transphobic? How would I even know?
My first follow-up appointment for HRT was booked in Edmonton in late February, and I had decided to try to find and LGBTQ friendly salon during my trip into the city. I did and I booked my first hair appointment, which was really exciting and so I mentioned that to some friends at work. However, Edmonton is a five-hour drive away and several of the women I’m friends with felt they could find me someone in town, which they did, in like less than a week.
Helping to source a local trans-inclusive hairdresser was a simple, direct, and deeply meaningful act of kindness. While I did get my hair cut initially in Edmonton, I’ve since had two cuts in Peace River and I can’t say enough about how much I loved them.
First haircut thanks to Adara in Edmonton
Third, fourth and ongoing haircuts thanks to Salon 5 in Peace River
My sister’s wedding in July was a cornerstone event in the year for me. I won’t rehash everything here, as I wrote about it already, however, it needs to be included in this list.
In terms of necessary context and background, I was fucking terrified. I don’t know how to describe the feeling with language except that in the led up to my trip home for the wedding there was an overwhelming, inescapable sense of fear and terror. Additionally, I was also very excited and hopeful that my fears were indeed baseless, it was a lot of powerful emotions that collided over the course of a week.
The terror I felt was because I worried what reaction my presence might draw. It was the first-time seeing family since I had come out and there was a lot of family to see. Overwhelmingly people were welcoming, accepting, and kind. It was a situation so good that my panic prone brain hadn’t even considered it a possibility.
My sister and I shortly before her wedding
It helped solidify one lesson I have learned repeatedly through this process; though some will not accept, will deny, and will hate, most, if given the chance will choose acceptance, affirmation, and love instead.