I think it’s always interesting to meet people in the flesh when you know them exclusively via some form of online setting, whether a discussion board, Second Life, or distance education classroom. However, when you’re in a holding pattern, trying to figure out what your next move is going to be, such meetings can push you one way or the other.

I met Allyson, a transsexual woman I know from My Husband Betty’s discussion boards, on her way from her graduation from a master’s program to visit her in-laws north of here. Jo and I picked a restaurant near the highway so she wouldn’t have far to look when she got to town, and she was there waiting for us when we arrived.

From the first moment we sat down until we tore ourselves away to let her resume her trip, the three of us had a great time, eating chicken pot pie (because it’s good for the soul), drinking some brewpub beers (because they’re good for your mind), and talking about family and kids and the future (because she has a wife and kids, just as I do).

We talked about having kids in a trans-family like ours, and she shared her stories of coming out to her children. We talked about spirituality and about how my sister (a fundamental Christian) and our neighbors (Mormons) might respond to my situation. We talked about our roles in society and how our responsibilities as communicators have changed as we have begun to accept ourselves. We vowed to keep in touch and to have our families get together because it’s important for trans-families to realize that all transsexual stories don’t end in divorce, isolation, and anger.

In fact, maybe there are a lot more well-adjusted families than you’d first imagine. Maybe it’s because the popular interest in transsexuals lies in their individual crisis and transformation and is blind to the significant others (spouses, children, parents, friends) and the post-transition life. Maybe it’s time to begin telling those stories and building those relationships.

We drove away happy and optimistic, talking about our own family’s future and desiring more of these energizing in-the-flesh meetings.