Sophie’s 2023 Holiday Post

Sophie’s 2023 Holiday Post

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December in State College- and as I type this, final exams are ending. Most students are headed home for winter break. Some, mostly foreign students, remain here and there. Some are leaving and not returning. Among those are education majors leaving for student teaching (as I did in December 1988), those who aren’t returning due to financial or academic reasons, and graduates.

I went downtown near sunset to run an errand. There was little traffic, and I was able to find parking easily. On my way there, I passed Beaver Stadium, where sits a big stone wall proudly proclaiming “The Pennsylvania State University.” It wasn’t here when I was in undergrad, and now it’s a popular place for people to take graduation photos. There were several people there in cap and gown, taking turns getting their pictures taken. The sunset was spectacular, and I’m sure that made for amazing pictures. As I drove back to the apartment, the sun had set, and the sky was still gorgeous in the gloaming. I passed the Nittany Lion shrine, where a long line of people in caps and gowns waited in line to take pictures. Soon, I passed the stadium again, with darkness almost upon me. Yet, people were still taking pictures at the sign. I have no idea if there was enough light for pictures.

Stadium sunset

I remember my last semester here for undergrad. I was deeply depressed for multiple reasons, not the least of which was heavy drinking. While part of me was glad that I was going to start student teaching, a larger part was upset that my time at Penn State was ending. It was more home to me than any place I’d ever been. I imagine that is how these soon-to-be graduates feel. Bittersweet. For those new graduates, their lives are changing so much- more than they can imagine. Even those just going home will return to new situations in the coming semester. I remember my first winter break home from Penn State. I missed the people I cared about up here. I worked through that break at the record store, and I really couldn’t wait to get back up to school.

Winter Break was bittersweet.

For me, and I believe for many transgender people, the holidays are bittersweet or worse. Long time readers know that I absolutely hate the holidays. After decades in the service industry, including fourteen years in retail, I’ve had any trace of holiday cheer burned out of me. In addition, the inability to my wife and daughter, and see holiday magic in my daughter’s eyes still makes me cry. She’s sixteen now- that magic is gone, never to return. I missed it, like I missed so much of her life. The only part of the holidays I enjoy is buying gifts for loved ones. Maybe I can find some of the holiday magic there.

I know that there are MANY people have much worse circumstances than mine, especially transgender people. I personally know several people who haven’t seen their children for many years. I have no idea how they deal with that. We, as a group cope with so much pain and prejudice, I truly wonder how all of us survive.

I’d like to ask you a favor. Please comment on this piece. Tell me a happy Holiday story you remember. Make me believe. Please.

Be well.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


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