My Transgender Wakeup Moment

Have you ever looked up and suddenly wondered, how on earth did I get to where I am at this moment? How has it happened that I am doing what I am doing right now?


I had that moment on a high school stage.


It all started with Liz. Liz was a whirlwind of a girl. She was a contagiously charismatic, incredibly poised and unreasonably confident force with talent that went way beyond Middletown, New Jersey. I’m not even sure where Liz came from, or how she ended up in our high school that year, but there she was.


For our high school talent show, Liz got it into her mind to perform a song scene, starring herself, from Rocky Horror Picture Show, the cult classic that inspired punk rock fashion (and which was subject to a re-make just last year). If you are not familiar with it, this movie was the 1970s gender-bending exercise, starring Tim Curry as the trans-hero, at a time when transvestites and cross-dressing was limited to a select few places in the country. Curry boldly and defiantly pranced through an assorted cast of weird characters with unbounded promiscuity. It was the perfect part for Liz.


She set about gathering her supporting cast. I was one of those kids who always got an important role in the

Another H. S. Rendition, By Steve, San Francisco, (Creatures of the Night)

high school plays, so I was swept along, being assigned the role of the hunchbacked butler, Riff Raff, and my part was to dance sensuously, stage left, with a chambermaid played by a very pretty Puerto Rican girl. I also didn’t know where she came from.


Before I knew it, there was opening night and Liz was in front of us, in all her transvestite glory. I honestly think that she outdid Tim Curry in both makeup and acting, and she flung herself into the number with abandon. Even when the microphone she carried gave out (was turned off?), she strode to the edge of the platform and snatched up a stage mic to use, hardly missing a beat.


It was about halfway into this flurry that I had my moment: I was supposed to be gyrating and thrusting with this girl, and I suddenly thought, I don’t want to be doing this. I looked out at the aghast faces of the parents and it hit me: Why was I doing this? Did I really want, before a live audience, to be dancing sensuously with a girl I didn’t really know, supporting a song with a message I didn’t understand, in a production that—truth be told—was a whole lot of creepy? How did I come to be doing this?


It was like waking up from a dream.


Actual transgender people experience this same moment when they wake up one day and feel like they have made a mistake in trying to make themselves into the opposite gender. It might be triggered by a scene they see of what gender was meant to be. It might be the moment that they look into the mirror and suddenly realize that they have made themselves, not more knowable, but unknowable. It might be the moment they see themselves in the eyes of a loved one ravaged by their decisions. But in that moment they wonder, how did I get here? How was I swept along to this point by the charismatic culture and influential authorities? I had a need, and the “Liz”es of my life seemed to make going this route make sense, but it doesn’t make sense anymore.


Sadly, this moment usually comes for them with deeper and more serious regrets than my Rocky Horror moment. When this moment comes, even so, it is still a mercy. It is Christ’s call to a soul, speaking that there is no place beyond the reach of His redemption. It is an affirmation that there is always a way back in this life in Him. It is a chance to repent, an opportunity to stop the gyrations.



Ever have such a Wakeup Moment?



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