Just a brief post to contemplate something important for me: This entire month of September has been and will be quite a busy one, both in my professional and familial matters. So it was only this week that I reflected on a very important step in my life: Fifteen years ago on Labor Day weekend, I made the big move from Green Bay to the Madison area. And 15 years ago this week, I joined my place of employment.
During this busy schedule of mine, and that of my supervisor who is based in another office away from Madison, we took the time to commemorate my 15-year work anniversary this week. It was a very modest celebration, really: Just me (since I’m the only one on my team actually working in Madison); my current supervisor, who made a quick midday drive up to Madison (and brought balloons!); and, as my personally chosen guest, the person who was my first supervisor 15 years ago and who I remain close with professionally, all enjoying lunch and conversation at the Panera Bread next door from my office.
During our lunch, the three of us talked about all that’s going on within our respective departments, my Labor Day adventure with the fire department… and, more reflectively, my decade and a half in Madison and with my employer, and all the changes that have occurred in that time (and, oh boy, has there been a lot of changes). It made me think of the changes in my own life since 2002: Back then, I was a scared 33-year-old, just laid off from my previous place of employment and wondering and worrying about where I would work at next, what industry it would be in, and what work I would be doing. Now in 2017, I’m a bit more secure and sure about myself. I’m still a little bit nervous about what my professional future may hold, as employment in my line of work is never a right but only a privilege, but at least I have a much better recognition of who I am in the working world, and of what I am capable of bringing to not only my employer but other potential employers and volunteer organizations.
Of course, there’s also the private side of me I dared not discuss during our anniversary luncheon, one I rarely exhibited to the rest of the world until the past year. Of course, I’m talking about the crossdressing side of me. Fifteen years ago in Green Bay, all of my feminine wardrobe (such as it was) was stowed away in a cardboard box in the back of my bedroom closet. When I moved down to Madison, that wardrobe was… well, still in a cardboard box in the back of a different closet. And it would stay that way until I moved into my current apartment 10 years ago, when that extra room spurred me to expand from the simple outfits I acquired since moving to Madison to include more tops, more skirts, more dresses, more wigs, more… of a whole lot of clothing that make Allison… well, Allison.
Obviously, clothing isn’t all that makes the crossdresser. Fifteen years ago, the only feminine adventures outside of my apartment were through a Yahoo! profile. I had no comprehension whatsoever about the extent, if any, of the trans/CD community in Green Bay in particular and the area’s LGBT+ community as a whole. Since my move to Madison, I slowly but surely crept out of my shell: A meet-up or two in the mid-2000s. A photo account on Flickr. A place on Twitter, and eventually on Facebook as well. The very blog you’re reading right now. And, yes, using the world wide web (if that’s what they still call it) to learn more about the many faces and facets of the LGBT community.
All of this has led to not only the male side of me being more sure about himself… but also to my female side being more adventurous. More initiative taking. More welcoming. More outgoing. More honest about myself. More sure about myself. More… confident in myself.
I am far from perfect, far from being completely sure of myself. Matter of fact, I consider myself a work in progress, and probably always will be. But I can take pride in knowing that I am more sure about myself — both my male and female sides — than the nervous wreck I was in the summer of 2002, before I took a big leap and moved from Green Bay to Madison. I can see it in the 15-year marker I received to commemorate my work anniversary… in the closet where I keep my dresses, wigs, and skirts… and in the mirror, where staring back at me is someone who’s come a long way, not only geographically and professionally but also personally, in the past a decade and a half.