The pants of my tux dig into my waist as I bow my head, my legs threatening to jump off the cold, hard pew beneath them. More than anything, I wish I could escape this, escape our tiny town and this tiny church. I swear, everyone from our town is crowded into this stuffy Methodist chapel for his funeral. Life isn’t easy when you’re a transgender 14 year old, like me, but when you add in events like the funeral of your suicidal, mentally ill neighbor, it becomes downright unbearable. I’m dreading the reception after this, knowing that there will be swarms of people to whom I’ll have to explain that my name is Zinn, not Zinnia and no, my shaven head is not the result of a botched partial lobotomy, as one of my classmates wondered aloud. I know I should be feeling thoughts of sorrow for my now-widowed neighbor, Jill, and her young daughter, Rowan, but first I’ll have to get done feeling sorry for myself. That’ll take a while.
“We will now move into the reception part of this service”, drones the preacher. “There’s mac and cheese on the buffet table and it’s the bunny kind!” He adds, as if some rabbit-shaped pasta will make it all better.
Damn it. At least I can stretch my waist now. My parents, sister, and I filter out into the lobby off of the chapel. The air reeks of mothballs and mildew in here, and I would kill to be in the woods by our house, where you can actually breathe. I stare at the door, hoping my parents will get the hint that I’d much prefer to be outside, but my mom pulls me gently into her so that I have no choice but to stay.
“I know it’s hard sweetie, but let’s stick together for the time being. Do want to get something to eat?” she asks.
I shake my head slowly. Normally I have the appetite of a whale and my sister, Ella, has to be cajoled to eat, but today I have no appetite and she’s diving into a mountain of macaroni. I’m not feeling so hot as it is, so I really want to hurl when Jayla, the only psychiatrist in town, starts heading toward my mother. Ever since I started cross-dressing, a year and a half ago, she’s been treating me like the most fascinating case study she’s seen. I probably am.
“Hi Becky, hello Zinniard”, she says to my mother and I. I’ve been called some pretty bad names, but I think Zinniard just about takes the cake.
“It’s Zinn”, I bark moodily.
“I’m so sorry dear heart”, she chides. “I wasn’t trying to mock you”.
“Nice try”, I sneer.
I slink away from my mother’s side and slip out the door. I know my words — and actions– will be followed by harsh scolding and probably grounding, but I couldn’t care less. I have to get out of here. I find myself in a small courtyard surrounded by a small, dingy graveyard. Hot tears start to slip down my face, mixing with the cool mist of an early November rain when a true miracle arises. A thick, full rainbow arches across the sky. I think of all the other people out there looking at this very rainbow. Heck, maybe even people in Portland, or another city somewhere outside of the state. I realize that one of these people must be like me or at least accept me. For a minute, I don’t feel so alone.