Best of times. Worst of times.

2020 so far.

It is indeed the tail of two situations  (I have a vague recollection of reading something decades ago about best and worst times…yes I know it’s from the opening of A Tale of Two Cities, the only thing I remember…lol). Ok, back to this year so far.

2020 started off with so much hope and excitement. For me in January  there was the revelation that I’m bigender!  I was also eagerly looking forward to the Keystone Conference in Harrisburg at the end of March. Then COVID 19 came along and cancelled things. Ok, so I would be home for the 31st of March, Transgender Day Of Visibility, “I’ll see about arranging a flag raising at my Bases main gate”, I thought. Well that went bye-bye too. I did however write a small article for the local Base paper that got published on the 30th, with the article also appearing on the papers Facebook feed on the morning of the 31st. It was really nice to see a dozen or so “likes” and “loves” along with a couple shares.

I didn’t let the disappointment of losing the flag raising, or no chance to be visible on TDOV, or attend my first ever Transgender conference get me down. Rather it energized me to do something else for the first time.

While the majority of folks are having to stay home (or should be), I’m one of those essential personnel required to keep my RCAF Wing running. While some of those at home take advantage of this time to practice make-up and putting together outfits, or just hang about all day in pajamas, I did the opposite. I actually had to get dressed and head into my shift cycle (2 x 10 hr days, then 2 x 14 hr nights) which started on the 1st of April. Now, there aren’t many people around at work, again essential only with some coming in for an hour or two, but I committed myself to be visible all the same after not having had the chance on the 31st.

I’ve expressed a few times at work, but never  in uniform while in the position of working the “Duty Desk” (there was the casual Friday event). I was able to get ready at home for the two day shifts and leave before my wife got up. At the end of those shift, I changed before coming home. I had initially planned on a one day of visibility, but I thought, why not a couple days? That turned into “at least one night”, which ended in a complete shift cycle. For the night shifts I’d dress under my flightsuit and do my makeup in the car on the drive in, reversing the process on the way home in the morning.

Except for one instance (on the last night) of questioning my ID at the main gate, “You’ve got the wrong ID there ma’am”, followed by my well-rehearsed/used story and “well now I know. Thank you”, there was never any issues. I also got to explain things to one of the members who has known me for many years but not this part of me. We had a good chat, with his closing remarks being, “wow, that is really interesting and congratulations. You look great by the way. Good job.”

“Why are you in DEU’s?” (Distinctive Environment Uniform – referring to the uniform blouse and skirt) was asked by a Major friend and one of my Positive Space ambassadors. My answer was a paraphrase of what Maj (Ret) Foss told me once; “I wear the skirt all the time “she said. “When you’ve been told you can’t do something all your life and now you can, you do.”

I am so thankful I have the opportunity to be able to express myself freely as a bigender member of the CAF. That last shift cycle was liberating. I was so comfortable. I did my job and didn’t really think about how I was dressed or expressing. I was being me. Next shift is Easter weekend, more than likely male me. Following that it’s a Tue/Wed day, Thu/Fri  night shift. Who knows? I’ll see how I feel, but it’s nice to know I can.

Yes, so far 2020 has been a mix of the best and worst of times. We’ll get through the worst, and enjoy the best! Stay safe and healthy!

Michelle

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