Crossing the Border

It was at a cozy little park in the middle of Belle Meade that was near my daughter’s preschool. Looking back, I can honestly say that is when our changes began.

We called it “tiny park.” It joined our roster of favourite parks for daughter-unit to play in after school ended to tire her out. Soulmate and I were those “no television” parents the mainstream types dread who wanted our kid to grow up without the electronic babysitter (and we desperately needed help!)

Being nearby the preschool where she attended, our daughter would often run into school friends on the playground. Inevitably she would take a break from the action, slide up to us and ask us to talk to the other parents for a playdate. I would always answer that I would try, go up to said parents and introduce myself, chit-chat about our kids...then make the ask.

“Sure! Your girl is sooooo well behaved. Let’s do that sometime. So where do you live around here?”

“We don’t.”

“When are you moving in?”

“We’re not.”


No playdate, almost. Save for one family from the school...and that stopped after I no longer beat around the bush about not moving to the west side of town. Our inherited culture of straight privilege had hit its first major roadblock by the mid-2000’s.

Soulmate and I had graduated from a prep college together in the late 80’s with all the expectations placed upon those who matriculate upon her domain.

Ten years later we had both successfully graduated from the school of Dave Ramsey and had bought a former HUD house for cash on the “wrong” side of town.

No debt led to no mortgage, and eventually a reassessment of what was really important to our lives. No debt meant we got to be real parents who took a real interest in our child.

No debt also meant I could no longer use a second full-time job to take my mind off of my gender dysphoria. No debt led to a deep personal hell that would lead to my breakdown and to becoming a woman with the pen name of Julie Chase.

No debt eventually led to Soulmate and I each taking courage to live our individual truths as an open lesbian couple, with no more excuses to fake our marriage anymore as something we never truly were.

No debt also meant no upper-class playmates for our kid and no realistic chance at the private high school preps either...yes, we felt like crap for that.

No debt meant we could be free. That would become very important later...for we never imagined then that we would live in a modern era where open bigotry would become fashionable, kids would be killed standing up to white supremacists and an elected government would be seemingly cheering the bigots on.

No debt meant we could choose. We chose to fight. I finally took an open stand in the culture war, but only after I saw fellow political travelers embrace the dark side in fear of people like us. Not Soulmate...she was already there long ago. I have only recently come on board as a result of necessity. Yes, I feel like crap for that too...and rightfully so. I wasn't blind all these years…

I was naive.

The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson was a hard movie for me to watch recently. This is the documentary about the lives of transgender women pioneers in Stonewall Era New York City. I had covered it for this magazine back in December, and I’m still thinking about it as I write this while watching my now high-school age daughter do calculus. Ms. Johnson was likely murdered in 1992...the year we ran away.

When I started this column in the summer before the catastrophe that was our recent presidential election, I thought I could bring my past life as a politically conservative pre-transition woman over with me to a certain extent. Perhaps some elements of it...because it wasn't all bad.

And then I returned to the community and realized that this is no longer a philosophical argument or a polite disagreement with those who hate us. It is a cold civil war...and like it or not, I have managed to take a side. It was always a war, but I just didn’t see it.

I never supported the other side, but I did enable it. I never saw evil over there...just familiar faces. Faces who do not understand me anymore. Who wonder why I am doing any of this? Who no longer talk to me…

I have never personally dealt with bigotry until now. It is never open, but it is always present under the surface. I feel angry over it -  at the bigotry and at myself. I should have seen this before and tried to have done something about it when I was on the other side. But I rationalized it away and was an apologist for this behaviour to a certain extent. My prior actions allowed it to fester amongst new and long time friends and I am now sickened by some of what I have publicly argued before.

I fell for it, and I feel like a complete fool.

Someone recently told me that there were good Nazis too back in the day...but they were Nazis.

We fight Nazis.

WWCD. What would Churchill do? Stand, Fight...Win.

Because there is no other choice for any of us in this community.

There never really was.


Julie Chase is the pen name for a local trans woman.







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