by Kiersten Mohr (She/Her)
I was 35 years old. I had spent decades figuring out my female identity, and all of that contemplation led me to decide to make a gender transition. I didn’t know another transgender person in Airdrie, Alberta and, as far as I could tell, had never seen anyone else like me. Although I wasn’t naive enough to think I was the only one, I did feel alone.
My vision of the future as a transgender woman was pessimistic. I was convinced that Alberta was a place where people’s stereotypes would force me to live with daily negative interactions and a general uncomfortableness. I had rationalized that my joy of living authentically as a woman would offset the challenges of being “different” in our community. I had made peace with myself that this would be my new reality.
As I began to transition, I felt it was essential that I didn’t use fear of the unknown as an excuse not to continue to be the best and most engaged parent as I could. Therefore, I knew that I would have to embrace many uncomfortable situations in our community. I had to get my kids to their activities, be present in their school, take them to appointments, go out with them on Halloween and for bike rides to the park. I would have to get groceries, go with my family to restaurants and take my car in for service. I didn’t even know where I was going to go for my fancy coffee fix. The list went on and on and on.
Additionally, I was aware that when transition began, I would need to access many services. I would need to find a knowledgeable pharmacy (and pharmacist) and an accepting family doctor for the medical aspects of this journey. I would need to find a hair salon to help as I began to grow my hair out and someone for hair removal to reduce the remaining facial hair. Again, the list went on and on and on.
My mind ran overtime trying to problem solve future situations, and the negative interactions that were sure to happen. I had to be prepared for all of this if I was to survive and maintain composure through my transition.
The only thing I was sure of was that I had to transition. So I did.
NONE of my pessimistic predictions came true. After living nearly a full year in our community, positive and amazing interactions have become the standard. All of those minutes, hours, weeks and years spent predicting the future were fruitless, and I was wrong. Nothing terrible has happened, and I have not needed any of the responses I had carefully crafted to defend myself in public situations.
I didn’t want to have to leave my community to find the services that I needed – so I consciously looked to support local businesses and desperately hoped that they would help me back. To my great realization, they all have.
The Store Upstairs and Pharmasave welcomed me and have shown me incredible service both at the pharmacy as well as within the store. I found a kind and fantastic family doctor who has jumped on board and been open to learn and support me through the next steps of this journey. The stunning Wendy Wiebe and her beautiful staff at The Hair Lounge have pulled me in and been happy to help me with everything and anything I have needed, always making sure I get a hug on the way out the door. Dawn at Sunrise Electrolysis has warmly helped at every opportunity. The staff at Good Earth Cafe have greeted me with a warm smile and “good morning” every Sunday I have made my way there. I have had excellent service at Home Depot, every restaurant I have been to in Airdrie and even UFA, to name only a few.
I am not advocating that all of my experiences have been perfect, of course, but I have experienced negativity and judgement so infrequently that I have put down my guard. It honestly now catches me by surprise when it does happen. So although there may be the occasional hard situation or tricky interaction, I am now convinced that all the positive in our community dramatically outweighs the negative. I am convinced there are many beautiful and caring people and businesses in Airdrie.
Looking back, I realize that I had become programmed to think through all the good, weigh that against all the bad, and then try to make a smart decision. However, it is now clear that so many of the adverse outcomes that I was considering were unforeseeable future unknowns. I was negatively fortune telling, providing myself with ‘evidence’ to tip the scales in a biased direction which kept me from moving forward and living as my authentic self.
I would never tell someone not to be scared or worried about a significant life change. Big changes are scary and can involve many challenges. But I like to remind people that positive outcomes can be difficult to imagine until you are living them every day. I want to try and help keep the scales a little more balanced for anyone with change on the horizon. Trust that change is possible. Trust that you are possible.
Lastly, remember that you are not alone. If you need support, please reach out. Airdrie Pride is here and will do anything we can to stand beside and support you on your journey.
Thank you Airdrie!
P.S. If you are an Airdrie business that would like to get involved, please reach out. We would love to hear from you!