I smiled at the challenge. A ranger friend from Fort Union National Monument trusted my acting. He wished me to play a career soldier, a corporal in the cavalry. He had faith I could convince others I was a different gender from a different age.
I changed my voice, my walk, but the mustache helped. It was makeshift – clear bandage tape, rubber cement, and wool yarn. It worked until I coughed and half the yarn flew away. I pulled the part off, even without the mustache.
I never suspected what I could learn from a mustache.
Dear friends walked past me. The real shocker came when a close friend not only walked past, but looked at me with fear in her eyes when I tapped her on the shoulder. I appeared an older man, a gruff and aggressive one. When I said, “It’s me,” I expected a laugh. I saw relief. I was surprised also at the reaction of men. I was treated with a deference that I found surprising.
I have no desire to be anything but a woman – a butch, lesbian woman, but a woman all the same. In that old fort, I saw clearly what it means to be transgendered. To see fear and confusion, especially from those for whom I cared.
As I plot my next novel, I will include a transgendered character. I realize it is important to make them real to the world-at-large.
Kayt Peck is the author of seveal contemporary Westerns set in New Mexico. Watch for her newest release, The Painting and the Pyramid coming in 2018