Open Letter to the Post-Op Transgendered Woman Who Offered Me Career Advice

Dear Doris,

I appreciated the phone call you made to remind me of our meeting. Your deep and gravelly voice surprised me somewhat. You provided a feminine name which I accepted without qualm. I’m good like that.

We met the following day and you were a great help. You wore a great deal of make up, which made me consider your gender status once more. But upon shaking your hand, I became convinced that you had elected to switch sides as it were; your hand enveloped mine, and yet your French-tipped nails suggested a quotidian efficacy that can only derive from years of practice. I surmised that you weathered the bouts of surgery some time ago and were comfortable in your blotchy, pancaked skin.

I marveled at your transformation. The opportunity to re-invent ones self is a rare and wondrous thing. The encompassing change and commitment required baffled me—I don’t like to make lunch plans more than a day in advance, so I stand in awe of your abilities.

One question: what’s with the name? You arranged for the opportunity to build yourself from the ground up and you chose a name like ‘Doris’. Why? I suppose it’s better than ‘Ashley’ or ‘Jaden’, but the overpowering fuddy-duddiness is one-hundred and eighty degrees in the wrong direction.

‘Doris’ is the mother on a black and white sitcom, or a matronly house mother at a boarding school, or the spinsterish librarian who masturbates to D.H. Lawrence. I can only imagine that you spent a great deal of time thinking about this momentous life change…while you saved up the money, couldn’t you have purchased a decent baby name book?

Luckily, I have given this great consideration and will provide you with a suitable alternate. I know that it will be a hassle to legally change your name, but you once had your penis cut off, split down the middle and used as the foundation for a constructed vagina. You don’t flinch from a tough job, to say the least.

You need a name that covers your remaining masculine attributes with a believable patina of upbringing. Many women I’ve met from rural environs are butch enough to fight mixed martial arts without spilling their Molson Ex. Therefore, something simple and unfettered by cloying girlishness will do the trick.

Agathe. Not quite as ancient as ‘Agatha’, but close enough to give you comfort. It has a touch of French to paint the picture of a bucolic Quebec background, and sonically pleasing without sounding frimpy. You also sound kind of mysterious with this handle, which I think is no small feat.

Also: you may want to incorporate scarves into your wardrobe. I understand the shaving of an Adam’s apple is expensive, but it tends to undercut the mystery we’ve worked so hard to create.

Good luck on your new life, Agathe!


Jesse McLean


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