Additional Writings

The Ladies Who Work at the County Courthouse

When I was a child, and I got to tag along with my mom while she went to the County Courthouse, it was quite an amazing experience. Courthouses were different then, with grand buildings and grand hallways, and not quite so grand offices. Among the first things I remember, was looking at every woman as possibly being the woman I someday hoped to become. This was never so true as it was about the ladies who worked at the courthouse.

How does one get to be a lady who works at the courthouse? These must be the most special ladies in all the world, I marveled. They seemed to know the answers to everything. They were always wonderfully poised and beautifully ladylike, and I could not begin to imagine a better example of the woman I hoped to someday become.

As I became an adult, there was nothing in my world that allowed for the slightest possibility that I would someday be one of the ladies who works at the courthouse. There was not even the slightest possibility that I might someday be able to live as a woman.

Still, I was amazed by these ladies, and their poise and charm were not lessened by the fact that I could never be like them. When I dreamed about the impossible, images of the ladies in the courthouse would fill my heart and soul.

I knew by the time I was five that I was female. I knew by the time I was seven that I had to hide it. By the age of thirteen, I knew it was a life-long nightmare. At eighteen, I began the alcoholic process of not dealing with my horrifying reality, and started a journey of self-destruction that would leave me homeless at the age of 48.

About then, I found a place where I could be me and I met some other transgender people. It was as though someone had opened a door through which the nightmare was not allowed to follow.

For quite some time, I was living in a part-time female world. I was out where I thought it was safe, and not where I thought it wasn’t. Little by little the balance began to shift to where the possibility of living as a woman became greater and greater. Finally one day it happened. I stopped pretending to be a man – even for a single moment of the day – and Stephanie was alive. That was four and one half years ago.

My transition in the workplace was challenging, and at times I wanted to give up. I had forgotten the dream of someday being one of the ladies in the courthouse. It seemed like there was no hope that I would ever work in a place like that. I was working for a newspaper clipping service where I had no contact with the public. No contact with the public would be a requirement of any job I would ever have.

Then came the lay-offs. Over half of the workforce lost their jobs, including me. I was feeling stronger by then; “passing” in all the places where people didn’t know me from before. Maybe, just maybe, I could find a job working with the public. At least there seemed to be the possibility.

Six months later, I applied for a job as the office assistant at the Shawnee County (Kansas) Commission office. Much to my surprise, I got the job! Now I am one of the ladies who works in the County Courthouse. Some days, I walk out of the courthouse and the feeling of being a woman sweeps through me like the wind that sometimes catches my skirt. And I remember when I was a child.

How does one get to be a lady who works at the courthouse? These must be the most special ladies in all the world, I marveled. They seemed to know the answers to everything. They were always wonderfully poised and beautifully ladylike, and I could not begin to imagine a better example of the woman I hoped to someday become.

I might not measure up to that image. I am, most certainly, one of the ladies who works at the courthouse. Once in a while, someone will compliment me for being able to maintain my poise. I work very hard to be able to answer any questions anyone brings to me. And I am so completely treated like a lady. Perhaps one day, a young girl will come into my office and think to herself, “Someday, I would like to be one of the ladies who works in the County Courthouse.”

© 01/07/2012, Stephanie Mott

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