Megan Shears: ‘Arriving’ in Nashville
“The speed limit here is forty-five miles per hour,” said an unexpected, disembodied voice. I looked around for a third person, but there were only two of us in the car.
Megan laughed. “She keeps me from getting a ticket,” she said, then pointed to the screen on the dashboard. “She works for the GPS.”
There was a trace of a Canadian accent when Megan talked, but what struck me the most was her sense of humor. Considering what she has been through, it was nice to see she has kept it intact. Maybe it’s because of where she grew up, north of Toronto, in a country that has been ahead of the U.S. on a lot of social issues.
A graduate of the Toronto College of Business, Megan studied computer science, focusing on network design and working for large corporations. She had been aware of her transgender nature from a very early age, but hadn’t had a word for it. As she grew up she heard the words “crossdresser” and “drag queen,” but knew they didn’t apply to her. What she did “know” is that if she didn’t hide whatever this thing was that always gnawed at her, she’d be thoroughly embarrassed.
“A strong handshake is very important,” she said. “I made a point of having one. And when someone said something once that suggested I walked like a girl, I practiced my boy-walk for days. As for identity—all I knew was that I was a son, and a brother, and later, that I would be a husband. ”
The husband part was the most difficult. Her strong religious background kept her from seeing the signs of an abusive relationship, and drove her to keep the marriage going long after it should have been resolved and long after the birth of twins. She would later face a real fight to maintain a relationship with the twins. Despite the more accepting Canadian legal system, there were a number of legal battles over visitation rights.
All the while the voice inside her continued: “No one knows who I really am,” it said, and she made sure no one would ever know. That was her truth for the first thirty years of her life, until her work with computer networks led her into the world of online gaming.
“In the gaming world,” she explained, “you can be whoever you want to be. So I became me.” And then she saw the word “transgender” and knew right away what had been going on. “That’s me,” she thought.
That’s when things began to change for the better. “I met her in the gaming world,” she said, referring to the woman who is now her wife. She and Megan fell in love. “And I also realized then that releasing my self, my true self, from the trap I’d been in for so long, was no longer a choice,” she says. “It was like I found the key to a door that I had locked long ago and opened it and now I was free to go.”
Being free to go meant she and her new wife could pursue new opportunities. One of those involved moving to the U.S. and eventually to Nashville, where she became involved with the transgender community for the first time, serving on the board of T-Vals, the local transgender support group, as well as, the support group for parents, families, and friends of LGBTQ people.
She has obtained her permanent resident status and started her own real estate development business. Oddly enough, it has been the not-so-liberal environment of Nashville that has played such a part in Megan’s liberation, and not the more liberal Canadian environment.
As we pulled up into the parking space behind Suzie Wong’s House of Yum, the voice of the GPS interrupted our conversation. “You have arrived at your destination,” she said.
I smiled and nodded toward Megan. “I guess you have,” I said, as we stepped from the car.