In which we are introduced to our hero.
Uhhnnh!” he grunted, feeling the burn of that last bit of liquid as he pushed the syringe to its depth. “Damn, ten years and it never gets any less painful.” Danny Price wiped the entry point of the needle with an alcohol swab. He picked up the black sharpie marker on his desk, leaned over and xed out today. Then he circled another day three weeks from today. He made a mental note to program the date into his phone as well. Danny Price was an active man. He worked a full time job as a property manager for a real estate agency, which included working with his maintainance crew on site when apartments, condos and houses needed repairs, updates or remodels. when he wasn’t working, he was outside in nature whenever possible, hiking, biking, camping and kayaking. Keeping organized by using calandars, both analog and digital was essential. He had a record of most events. It was one of the ways he kept his life long battle with anxiety at bay.
He tugged at the pair of well worn levis hanging over the back of his desk chair. Standing on one leg, he winced a little as he lifted and bent his left knee and put his foot into his jeans. Switching sides he finished pulling them on. The old denim hung snugly but not tight, on his slim hips. He admired his own taught belly. “Just a light treasure trail.” he mused. “Not that it matters, no ones been anywhere near that trail in a long time, except me of course.” He slid a small, callused hand beneath the waist band of his plaid boxer shorts and strummed himself lightly. It didn’t take much for his lower region to show signs of life. Sighing quietly, he grabbed the plain, white tee shirt from his desk top and pulled it on. He smoothed back his short, black hair and looked at himself in the mirror. Rubbing his chin he felt some stubble. “not enough to shave” he concluded and proceeded to put his size 7 feet into his buck skin work boots.
Danny Price was born Daniella Louise Price and lived her life carrying what felt like an unruly moniker for 34 years. Ten years later, Daniella was long gone. He had changed his name in the year leading up to his first T treatments. The moment he received his new documentation in the mail, he felt like he had been granted a reprieve from the life sentence of living as an alien in his own body. The first year was challenging, to put it mildly. But he was determine and persevered. Danny Price was no poster boy. He had no desire to march on Washington or educate the masses. He just wanted to be comfortable in his own skin.
There were critics. Plenty of them. Family members who thought this was yet another ploy for attention, another way for Dani to be “different.” Strangers on the street, or who came into the business where he worked, took pains to continue using the obsolete pronouns. As if continuing to use words like “she” and “her” could hold back Danny’s transition. It was as if they were desperate to force Danny to stay in his prison so they wouldn’t have to deal with the possibility that they might need to take a look at what constructs oppressive or not, they, themselves might be living in.
And then there were the friends, the lovers, members of his queer family who thought he needed to be broadcasting his change. Writing a blog, posting youtube videos recording his voice changing and making public service announcements. “You owe it to your community to blaze a trail for others. Make noise. Be seen. Make waves, cause a scene, fight the “man.”
Ten years post transition, Danny was tired. He’d been a mentor. He’d taken young transmen under his wing. He showed them how to inject themselves with T, gave them pep talks, the ones no one had given him. He’d been the token FtM on University panels, spoken to groups like PFLAG and GLSTN. But now he was tired, he just wanted to live his life. “What was the point?” he thought, “of going through all this trouble to feel whole, to have the ability to wear life like a loose garment, if I’m living other people’s ideas of what my life should be?” “I don’t want to be an activist. Sure I’ll be there for someone who asks. But I transitioned so I could have my life. And now I’m having it.”
His family came around eventually. Gradually they got used to his new “look.” and family gatherings slowly devolved back into as normal situations as they ever were. His old friends were another story though. Girlfriends, ex lovers fell by the wayside as they confronted their attitiudes toward men, masculinity and what it meant to them and their own gender identity. His ex girlffriend summed up the general consensus. “If I’d wanted to be in a relationship with a man, I’d be straight!” Well, that was that. He muddled through and somewhere around 7 years post transition, he got his job with the realty agency. He started as a laborer and now three years later, he was property with a crew of 6 guys who answered to him. Other than being below average height for a man. (He was five foot seven.) Nobody at Devon Square Realty knew him by any name other than Danny Price. To his coworkers he was Danny, the wiry, energetic worker who never balked at climbing ladders, scaling walls or hauling scrap. Danny, who could throw back a couple of cold ones at the Devon Square Tavern and cheer on the Steelers, Penguins and swear at the Pirates.
And the women, well, they always flocked to him. He was goodlooking with his jet black hair that never quite stayed in place, his gray eyes and wide, sincere smile. His buds from DSR would always tease him. Seemed he couldn’t sit at the bar for one minute before the waitresses at the Tavern would each take a turn trying to get him to pay some attention to them. He was always nice of course, but it had been a couple of years since his last girlfriend had uttered that damning sentence.
He could probably pull off the stone butch thing for a little while, but that was not what he wanted for himself. Somewhere in this town, he knew there was a woman who not only found him attractive, but would appreciate the more subtle things about him, like the fact the was a great cook and didn’t mind sewing, had a cat, read Jane Austen and besides all that would be open to his, …condition. Who was he kidding? Pittsburgh was such a small town, surely who ever this fabulous girl was – he’d already met her, pissed her off or beat up her brother or something. He wasn’t pessimistic by nature, in fact he was optimistic to a fault. But experience had shown him little peace. Better to be lonely now, he figured.