“So tell me a bit about yourself.” It was the oldest line in the book, but it was a good start, in Marisol’s opinion.
She looked down at her salad, pushed the leaves around for a moment before looking back up at her date. His name was Anthony and he was an accountant. When Stephanie told her that, Marisol had been terrified that he would be ugly and boring, but he was rather…okay-looking. Not yet handsome, but he wasn’t a horrific as she’d expected. He had a nice smile.
“There’s not much to tell,” she said. “I work as a photographer for the New York Times, I’m allergic to shellfish, and I live with two roommates, one of whom you know.”
“Yeah, Stephanie and I are cousins, actually,” he informed her. “Well, sort of. My brother is married to her cousin.”
“She told me that,” Marisol said. “You must be very close with your family.”
“Sort of. I mean, we all grew up on the same street, so yeah, I guess. I was Luke’s Best Man and Stephanie was Hannah’s Maid of Honor, so…yeah. I guess you could say we’re all close. Are you close with yours?”
“Very,” Marisol informed him. “My parents both had big families growing up, so I have a lot of aunts and uncles and cousins, despite being an only child myself.”
“That must have been fun,” Anthony commented.
Marisol laughed. “It was certainly something,” she said. “Especially after I…” She cleared her throat and took a sip of water, allowing her sentence to hang in the air.
“After you what?” Anthony asked.
“Nothing,” Marisol said. “It’s not first date material.”
“More like tenth date,” Marisol sighed, taking another sip.
“Might as well tell me now,” Anthony said. “I mean, if it’s a deal-breaker then it’s better to put all our cards on the table now, ya know? So our hearts are only bruised; not broken.”
Marisol took a deep breath and nodded. “You’re right,” she said. “It’s only fair.” She took another long sip of her water and allowed herself a moment to relax, before looking Anthony in his eyes. “For the first twelve years of my life,” she said, “my family knew me as Martine. I came out as female on my thirteenth birthday.”
“What?” Anthony asked, tilting his head like a confused puppy.
Marisol took another deep breath. “I’m transgender,” she clarified. “I’ve had sex reassignment surgery, but my family saw me as a male for a good portion of my life. That’s why I said this wasn’t exactly a first date conversation to have. I totally understand if you don’t want to continue this.”
“You’re transgender?” Anthony asked, a little slow on the uptake.
“Yes,” Marisol replied, sighing. “And I can tell it’s going to take a while for you to process this new information, so I’m just going to—”
“No, wait!” Anthony said, reaching for her hand. It was big and warm around hers. “I don’t think you understand.”
“Understand what?” Marisol bristled. “It’s you who doesn’t understand, obviously.”
“No, I understand completely,” Anthony said, looking all around them, before leaning in and lowering his voice. “Me too.”
“Huh?” Marisol asked, frowning. “You too what?”
“I’m…I’m transgender,” he said, blushing slightly.
“You…you are?” Marisol asked, her eyes wide in surprise.
“Yeah,” Anthony admitted, taking a deep breath. “My parents named me Anastasia, but I came out kind of early.”
“How early?” Marisol asked, intrigued.
“I was four,” Anthony told her. “I just knew that I wasn’t a girl. I related way more to my brother than my sister and I just…I wanted to be treated like a boy.”
“How did your parents take it?”
“They thought it was a phase, but my mom is a child psychologist. She said that, even if it was a phase, it wouldn’t have been healthy for them to dismiss it right off the bat. So they let me dress how I wanted, they called me Anthony, and I just…grew up a boy.” He smiled and shook his head. “I know I’m lucky as hell that they accepted me, but sometimes I still can’t believe it.”
“It can be pretty surreal sometimes, can’t it?” Marisol chuckled, feeling her entire body relax.
“Yeah,” Anthony agreed. “So, are we good?”
Marisol nodded, giving him a wide smile. “Yeah,” she said. “We’re good.”