Sharen ~ LGBTQ

2020 has been a year of change, a year of transformation. It was going to be that for me either way."

“Governor Hogan is on the horn right now, literally at five o'clock tonight, closing down the state again, in November. I remember the first time he did it. I was waiting tables and they cut me early from the restaurant because there was nobody there already. I went to a restaurant to get Thai food because I knew they were going to close them all down, and there he was on TV.


All of a sudden, I had a lot of free time. I spent about a week getting my name change process started, watching videos on voice feminization, and practicing it. Then I saw that Amazon was hiring. Amazon has some of the best trans coverage out there. There are some gender affirming surgeries that I had access to, that most people have access to through Maryland Medicaid, thank God, but there are certain ones that are incredibly life changing that are still deemed cosmetic by many insurance companies, despite being outlined as necessary care in WPATH Standards. Facial surgery that would dramatically increase my safety and decrease my feelings of dysphoria. These surgeries are covered by Amazon’s insurance and are harder to get coverage at many other places. You’d have to go to Apple or a big tech company.


So I looked at the Amazon job, and this was back in March when people had no idea how long this lockdown was going to be and this sickness was brand new. I was like, ‘Well, they’re hiring. If I go on unemployment with the added stimulus benefits at the time, I will be making more than I will at Amazon , but I won't have access to these health insurance benefits. I'm going.’ So I ran out and I started working there, and I've been working there ever since. And now I have access to that care and I'm starting to figure it out. It’s really exciting. It's really, really nice.


My life is way more stable than it was before the pandemic. I'm also way more lonely. The challenges of living a social life on camera, through our phone cameras, is especially tricky for somebody going through transition. You feel a lot of dysphoria and it can be exhausting.


But, you know, this horrible thing happened, the pandemic, and because of it the opportunity came up to gain access to this care. Yeah, I'm really grateful to have the job at Amazon.


Amazon has been really nice. When I got there, even though I hadn't legally changed my name, within a week I had my correct name on my badge, for my log in each day, for everything. That was amazingly helpful, right, because I'm at this new job and it’s great for new people to meet me seeing my correct name. Ironically, because of COVID, I didn't get my driver's license until yesterday. It took from May 11th till November 9 to finally get my social security card and all the stuff I needed to go to the DMV and get my new driver's license. It felt really good to finally have it.


2020 has been a year of change, a year of transformation. It was going to be that for me either way. So, this is what I was presented with, and you know, I transformed with it. Transition can be a pretty emotional experience, and it's been lonely. That’s been the biggest challenge. I have wonderful people in my life. I am incredibly, incredibly lucky to have so many supportive people. So the loneliness can feel compounded by being trans, but it has everything to do with being human. There’s just this ache, this ache for human contact. To just sit, to talk to, to hug. My hope for 2021 is to hug someone, to be able to hug with abandon.


My hopes for 2021 are to get the gender-affirming care I need and to just, you know, be able to connect with other people, be with other people. My hope is to have a vaccine. In a way, 2020 was a little bit of a cocoon for me. I got to be really isolated while I went through some of the more awkward physical changes. And now, you know, along with the rest of the world, I want to bust out and I want to, I want to be seen. Yeah, I want to fly.


I had not even realized how, in 2021, we're all ready to fly in so many ways. I hadn't even realized the subconscious tension I had been building up over the last four years. I was listening to the news yesterday morning and I kept waiting for them to say something politically triggering, and it just didn't happen. It was almost like ‘Wait, what?!’ I’m feeling my subconscious just relax a little bit.” – Sharen #Maryland

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