Nailed It


I had a bizarre but ultimately affirming convo just now at the nail salon.


I should note they treat me like any other female client, and although I presumed they know I’m trans, it’s never come up. I was there for a pre-birthday touchup.

After the usual conversation about our kids and work, someone asked about my interview with Caitlyn Jenner, about what she’s really like, her home, and what we discussed. They hadn’t seen the article but they had heard the news it generated.

caitlyn_dawn_primaryx750Then one woman asked about what kind of surgery she’s had or not had, and this woman kept referring to her as “he,” “him” and “Bruce.”

Another woman chided her on pronouns, and the woman who called her “him” looked to me as she dismissed it, saying, “she knows what I mean.”

I was about to pipe in with my 15-second, prepared, kind but firm comment on proper pronouns and privacy, when that woman asked me in front of everyone: “Well, what about you, Dawn? Did you have ‘the surgery?'”

My jaw dropped, and before I could answer… they all laughed out loud, and it was to my surprise that they were laughing at the crazy idea that I might be transgender.

“Ha!” Awkward…

I swiftly pivoted from shock to humor: “No, I’m still a woman. How about you?”

That elicited even more laughter.

But it was then I realized, there was something amiss here. This cisgender (not trans) woman had included me in on the “joke” that, even if she called Jenner “she,” or “her,” she still considered a trans woman to be less than a woman “like us.” I was in on the joke but unknowingly closeted to these women whom I’ve come to know.

So I opted to stop the laughter with my quiet truth.

“All kidding aside, I thought you knew: I am transgender.


This time it was their jaws wide open. And while I thought this has to be a put on or a prank, it was not, and it seemed they took the news in stride after the initial shock.

It’s actually the second incident this week; on Sunday, someone asked me whatever happened to my children’s “biological father,” having presumed I’m the adoptive lesbian second mom. That was Wendy’s worst nightmare come true. Now THAT was awkward.

But it’s also nice in a way to learn that not everybody knows my life story, even when I think they do.

I feel validated being seen as the woman I am, but take no pleasure in “passing” when it exposes the fact that sometimes we who are trans are still seen as “not quite” women or men, when all we seek is to live authentically.

Yes, some of us seek to be stealth, some are out, some pass and others don’t at all, some are gender non-comforming, and then there are men and women who you might think are trans who are in fact cis.

What I hope is, in that revealing my truth to these ladies, they’re more likely to stop presuming one of us is or isn’t trans the next time.


We’re E V E R Y W H E R E!


A trust has been established by Wendy’s brother, Robert Lachs, to assist with furthering the education of the Ennis children. Anyone wishing to donate to the fund may click here to donate via GoFundMe. 

4 thoughts on “Nailed It

  1. You had a wonderful teaching moment. This is the very reason why I don’t think we should leave the distinction completely behind. You are an attractive, professional, very feminine, respected working mom. And you just happen to be trans. We need not wear it like a neon sign, but by honoring it in context, we teach others.


  2. unfortunately,
    it is my all too frequent experience that most genetic females
    look at us as men, even when we’ve had the procedure


  3. Great essay, Dawn. You are a pioneer who is laying the groundwork for a Better world and an easier life for future transfolk. Wish my Alex had stuck around to join you in that fight.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m so so sorry he didn’t, but I need you to know there was a time I felt just like Alex.

      On June 3, 2013, I stood in front of a train, hoping to escape my pain. I tried a second time, too, when I walked into traffic on the turnpike a few weeks later and hoped some distracted driver would take me out and end my suffering.

      Had I succeeded like Alex I wouldn’t be turning 52 today and my kids would be orphans.

      Because Alex didn’t stick around you’re justifiably angry, sad, confused — all proper emotions for anyone in your position.

      But I ask you to try to understand why Alex could not go on. It’s a terrible burden that most people will never comprehend, to choose death today rather than wait for a better tomorrow.

      There’s a statistic that says 41% of trans people attempt or contemplate suicide. The numbers are even higher for people Alex’s age. I’m not defending what he did, but I can relate to his anguish and despair. Sticking around might have been asking too much. I wish he did. I wish for you the pain was not so great, but I know it is.

      If I do only one thing in this world by continuing to live I hope it is to help people forgive those who cannot bear to stick around, to help people forgive themselves for not being able to keep them alive, and to try to help those who are considering suicide to understand it may not get better right away, it may even get worse, but eventually life does get better.

      I’m here for you, Ed, and anybody who wants to talk about this kind of thing. Thank you for reaching out.


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