In Honor of Alice

It’s the late 1970s, and I have just landed a new job with a computer software company in San José, California. It’s a sweet small company; the employees I’ve met seem good-humored and fascinating. They are musicians and linguists as well as computer wizards.

On my first day, my boss calls me into his office for an onboarding conversation. He wants to go over the focus of my work, my teammates, the reporting schedule and structure, but he also wants to tell me something more:

Among the company’s software engineers is a transwoman. I’ve lost her name now; I’ll call her Alice. She is a long-term and respected employee. “We don’t make a big deal about this,” my boss says. Alice uses the women’s bathroom, and a few people aren’t comfortable, which is why he brings it up. He hopes that I will—

I’m pretty sure I interrupt him to let him know that this is fine with me. Yes, I feel unsure of myself: This is my very first encounter with an out member of the trans community. Will I make mistakes, and how bad will they be? And I also feel a deep intuitive gladness that this is a place where Alice gets to be (I hope) her full self.

During my short stay at that company, Alice and I remain just “Hello!” acquaintances. I wonder how she is doing now. What has become of her journey, and has she continued to find people and places who love her for all that she is? I wish I could tell her, with the language I have now, how much I support and honor her.

This month we’ve reminded ourselves that the work of Justice and Equity must come from the heart, and that there are many ways for each of us to play a part. I know one thing I can do: I will get on the phone to my representatives to help prevent LGBTQ-destructive laws from being passed in this state. For Alice, and for all our trans beloveds.

~Rev. Nancy Palmer Jones

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