Rerun: Taking Your Chances

Rerun: Taking Your Chances

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This post first appeared on TGF August 30, 2022.

When I bought a new car in 2013, I received a trial subscription to satellite radio among the bells and whistles. I had expected to enjoy the freebie for only three months. However, I quickly recognized the superior quality of the programming and stations, and became a full subscriber. I now also stream on my laptop while working.

On my radio dial, you will find preset stations playing classical music, 1950s rock and roll, punk rock and 1980s New Wave, just to name a few. But my favorites are those that play classic hard rock and heavy metal from the 1970s and 1980s. The large majority of my listening time goes to a wonderfully named station whose playlist features Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin, Aerosmith, AC/DC, Van Halen, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Metallica, along with similar acts past and present.

Saxon (circa 1981).

One of the former New Wave of British Heavy Metallists that occasionally makes the rotation is an underrated group named Saxon, which enjoyed popularity in the early 1980s before being overtaken by other acts. They are still active today, and some of their signature titles (subjects) include “Wheels of Steel” (fast cars), “Dallas 1 PM” (the JFK assassination), and “Denim and Leather” (the early ‘80s neo-metal scene).

My own personal favorite from this group is their defiant, vigorous Taking Your Chances (1980). This track is about a lover banishing his unfaithful girlfriend, telling her in effect to go and take her chances in the outside world without him. Anyone who has ever felt betrayed by someone they had trusted can easily relate to its lyrics.

While enjoying this song, I thought about its signature line, and how it applies to what we all are expected to do in life as adults – take our chances in the real world outside our doors (and especially outside our devices). TGForum readers should all be able to relate to having had to ultimately take our chances in the general public, facing what comes and accepting the consequences of our actions.

The earliest I can recall doing so in a visible (non-TG) public way was as a sophomore in high school. At that age, I recognized that I had gained an unwanted reputation as soft and fragile. As an adolescent—wanting naturally to be respected and liked—I felt a need to scotch that image as thoroughly as possible. So I signed up to play on my high school’s football team, although I had never played an organized sport before.

Being average height and weight, never having faced such an intense physical regimen of activity and hitting, it was initially difficult to get used to it all. But I enjoyed the sport, and I had made a commitment; there was no backing out. So during each practice—twice a day in the August heat—I took my lumps, got back up every time, and kept at it. On Rookie Day, I successfully endured some mild hazing along with the other first-year players.

By the end of summer, I had won the respect of my teammates and coaches, and was recognized as a full team member. Very satisfyingly, on the first day of the school year (a game day), I got to parade in a jersey with my teammates in front of 1,400 wide-eyed students. I watched heads explode in every class I attended. Girls suddenly looked at me differently. During the season I picked up some playing time on the JV squad as a backup wide receiver. (Yes, I could be a prima donna even then!) The confidence has remained with me ever since.

Later in life, when I came out and began freely going places where I liked, I was also taking my chances in the general public. One of the very few mild incidents I faced was several years ago in rural Pennsylvania. A would-be comedian was presumably trying to get a laugh from his two companions by subtly giving me the Aerosmith serenade—“dude looks like a lady”—from the opposite side of a track in a railroad station. The third time, I finally realized he was directing it at me. (It has always been one of my favorite songs, after all.)

My immediate response was to look him right in the eye and politely smile. He suddenly grew silent and looked away—as if it never occurred to him that he might actually be faced down by the “dude” in a pretty top and skirt. (It’s amazing how people shy away from eye contact, in this age of digital filters and anonymity.) At that point I laughed quietly and walked on, remaining in the station area for a bit to make clear that I was amused, and not at all ashamed. I sometimes wonder if his companions have ever allowed him to hear the end of it. 

She’s out!

During 2020, as absenteeism from public life became commonplace, I chose to make myself as visible as possible, completing the transition to daily TG living. Whenever I went outside to do anything, it was en femme—even to venues where I had not previously done so. Honorifics like “ma’m” and “miss” were routinely directed my way.

As much as I despised the mask in public places, a feminine one did soften my appearance. And it temporarily saved the effort and expense involved in cosmetics—a “burden” I am only too happy to resume, now that the public health policies of Dr. Governor, M.D. are mercifully no longer of Howard Hughes caliber.

Even so, I am less scrupulous about trying to be perfect in my public appearance. The late period of so-called “social distancing” liberated me from worrying if my clothes were just right, or if my face was flawlessly made up when I went outside. This relaxation has carried over into present day. Casual styles are just as agreeable now!

Relaxed casual!

The past year was truly the time for TGForum readers to take their chances in the world outside. Admittedly, it was easier for me as a single adult. But I never realized how much more relaxed it would be not constantly going back and forth. I learned many things by living full-time, that I could not possibly have learned otherwise. It seems to have relaxed both myself and those around me, now that everybody knows what to expect on a daily basis.

Although I have not been told so specifically, many women in my life seem to truly respect me for being willing to subject myself to some of what they go through, at least on the surface. Perhaps parents struggling to understand a transgender child have also seen me and come away with a favorable impression—and then looked back at their child and thought, “Maybe this won’t be so awkward after all.”

Looking beyond the present, I anticipate returning to my office on a daily basis in a few weeks, where I will once again interact with hundreds of colleagues and clients face to face, instead of electronically. Neighbors and local businesses have fully adjusted to seeing me, new and improved. The return of live, in-person activities and events is such a relief. We need to be with people, and we were made for public communion. (And here’s a good rule for the future: If it’s called “social”—e.g. media, distancing, disease, revolution—then it’s not.)

Used to be a wall here, remember?

Take your chances in the world outside. Embrace personal responsibility, and face the consequences of your actions. Use your liberty intelligently, honestly, and with integrity. A life where free will is not acknowledged quickly becomes a life of scapegoating, shaming, manipulation, and forcing one’s will on others—or acquiescing in such behavior directed toward yourself. There’s no reason to accept that. The Iron Curtain fell peacefully enough, so there is hope for everything. No risk, no reward!

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Category: Transgender Opinion


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