Friday, March 29, 2024

It's Game Day

 

Red Wig Image from the 
Jessie Hart
Archives and the game...


Recently, the Cincinnati Reds kicked off their latest professional baseball season. Opening Day is a big deal here complete with a parade and sell out crowds at the game. 

As a guy, I somehow managed to secure a ticket or two to the game because the company I worked for knew I was a huge sports fan and it was their way to keep me happier. As a transgender woman, I also managed to go to a few games but never opening day. As I aged, the problem became when I was unable to walk long distances to get to the ballpark and had nothing to do with me worrying about being accepted by the other fans in the stadium. Plus what remained of seeing the whole sporting experience in person as a woman just reinforced the fact I could take my love from one gender to another. 

I was lucky when I found and was accepted by a small group of women who were passionate about sports also. We regularly gathered at sports bars to watch our favorite teams play while we drank quantities of good cold draft beer. Good times were normally had by all, even though our teams lost. Perhaps the best part was, since I was part of a group of other women, no one questioned my gender at all. I had my validation as a person I so desperately sought. 

With one of my friends (Kim) a friendly competition developed over which professional football team we were fans of. Her family is from Pittsburgh, so naturally she is a Steelers fan which collided head on with me since I am a Cincinnati Bengals fan. Along the way, we became so close she invited me to go along with her family to a Monday Night Football game in Cincinnati. All of a sudden, I realized what such a major deal going to a real live National Football League game was when it came to my gender transition timetable. For most of my life, I wondered what it would be like to attend a game as my authentic transgender self and all of a sudden, the time had come. 

Back in those days, I had not started gender affirming hormones yet so all I had to wear was a barely fitting wig Kim and her daughter Hope had always seen me in. Hope was a bar tended/server at one of the venues I became a regular in and initially set up a meeting between her lesbian mom and I. Needless to say, I was terrified yet still excited to take another major step along my gender path. The door to my closet was opening faster than I had ever dreamed it would. Once I made it to the stadium, it was dark which helped my presentation and I went through the initial stadium security check points with no problems and my confidence began to build. We made it to our seats and no one gave me a second look, so I was happy. After all, everyone had paid a premium price to watch a football game, not a stray transgender fan in the stands. 

The only perceivable problem I was going to have was how much I could drink. I didn't want to chance going to the women's room if I could help it but I couldn't risk having to go during the long road trip home if I had to. So I compromised and just had two beers and made only one trip to the rest room where nothing happened. I got in, took care of business, washed my hands and got out. 

Per norm, the Bengals lost to the Steelers that night, so I took some abuse from the others in the group. Little did they know how just going was a complete victory and confidence builder for me and to this day, I can't thank Kim enough for including me.

These days, the Cincinnati Reds have a young exciting team who are fun to watch and my dream is to build myself up to the point where my wife Liz and I can see a game or two this summer. 

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