The text showed up on a stunning Sunday afternoon. “In town for three days, would love to see you.”
I didn’t recognize the number and texted back, “Who is this?”
Thirty seconds later, I had the answer: “Jake Lord.”
Oh my god. Jake. He operated a South Dakota trucking company that I had represented ten years before, back when I was a man and attack dog lawyer. We had met only once in person, in the late ‘90s. Everything else was by telephone and email. That was until I closed my law firm in 2010 after coming out as Ellen.
I remembered Jake as tall, goateed, and handsome. He was extremely Dem-liberal like me. Our business calls usually evolved to politics and family. Never mind that he was married—he seemed so perfect.
Three and a half years ago, I sent Jake a letter advising that I was transitioning from man to woman. Two hundred other people—all clients, other lawyers, and judges—got the same letter. Jake emailed afterwards, “No problem, I wish you the best of luck.”
I figured I’d never see Jake ever again. Now, he wanted to see me.
With make-up in place and my hair done well, I rode my bike to a Washington Avenue bar and walked in. I found Jake wearing a Bears cap, sitting in a booth. He smiled when this tall blonde appeared before him. A second later, he stood and hugged me.
“Good to see you, Ellen,” he said above the din of the crowded post-Vikings game barroom.
He had aged a bit but the goatee—my favorite on any man—was still present. He remained handsome, too. Above all else, he was curious. About me.
“So tell me, what’s it like to no longer have it,” he asked after some small talk.
“You mean my penis?” I replied.
“To be honest,” I answered, “It’s quite wonderful. I never liked that thing very much anyway. All it did was get me into trouble. Now I’ve got only clean lines, the way it was supposed to be.”
I would have sworn that he squirmed in his seat. Like most men, I’m sure he couldn’t imagine being without it.
We talked families and politics, only for him to come back with questions. “I hope you don’t mind,” he said.
“Of course not.” I was the first transgender person he’d ever met. I understood he needed to explore. Plus, I enjoyed the idea of an attractive man sort of fawning over me.
“Are they real? And let me tell you, they sure look real.” He was, of course, asking about—and looking at—my breasts.
“Yes, Jake, they’re real,” I said. I didn’t mind his directness, but I wasn’t going to get into the intricacies of breast growth via hormones or the choices a girl must make between silicone and saline.
“And your hair. I can’t believe how long it is.”
I smiled and shook my head ever so slightly for effect, just as any woman would. I could appreciate Jake’s shock—the last time he saw me, I had a near crew-cut. It was the only way I wore my hair was a man.
He had another question. “Do you have actual curves, just like a woman?”
“Yes, Jake, I have actual curves,” I said. “You’d be surprised what a little estrogen will do for you. Besides that, I’ve got a better looking butt than I ever did as a man.”
We ordered another round of drinks and moved on to the old days when I was his attorney. We talked about some victories and how the world had changed so very much from our last in-person meeting. He was divorced now—hooray!—but living with a woman, a conservative Republican. Drat.
“How could you?” I was genuinely aghast.
“She has other redeeming qualities,” he said. “Everything works as long as we don’t talk politics.”
I suspected she wouldn’t have been crazy about Jake meeting me.
I had to be somewhere else, and it was time for me to go.
Jack hugged me again, and we said our goodbyes. I took a dozen steps and heard, “Ellen!”
I turned around and saw Jack grinning once more. He was giving the thumbs up sign.
I guessed that he agreed with me about my butt.