While attending one my discipline’s national conferences in New Orleans a few days ago, Mary Jo and I set about telling as many people as we could, one-on-one, about my imminent changes. In comparing notes, I think we managed to tell around 40 people between the two of us. Some of them got 2 full hours, complete with the philosophical discussion about sex and gender; others got the “hey, guess what I’m doing? I’m changing my sex” short version that you tell in the bar over beer and pretzels.

This was Mary Jo’s first experience with telling lots of people and, like me, she observes that it gets easier with practice. Maybe it’s that you develop a script in your head that protects you from the anticipated pain of rejection. Or maybe it’s that you just get tired and lower your guard after a few disclosures. Or maybe, as in the case of this conference, you learn quickly that smart, compassionate people simply aren’t going to reject you because you’re gender-variant.

I’m happy at being able to tell so many of my old graduate student buddies, former students, former colleagues, and other acquaintances — that layer of my social self is important to me and it was therapeutic talking to so many different people.

I’m also a bit frustrated by the whole experience. As you can guess, as you get on a roll and set a goal of telling more and more people, the story gets truncated, the time you have for your friends and colleagues gets shorter and shorter, and the message you seek to convey gets watered down, perhaps to the point of sounding flippant. In New Orleans, I eventually began to feel like a drive-by shooter, rolling my window down just long enough to pepper a victim’s house with bullets before speeding off into the night to repeat the deed.

This conference’s pace resembles this whole spring’s pace — I end up sounding superficial and I don’t have enough time to spend with a given person because there are more people to tell. Don’t get me wrong: I’m proud of having faced my demons and talked to everyone, but I’m also ashamed at not having made more time to follow up.

There will be time, I tell myself, for depth and leisurely discussion, measured out in coffee spoons and peaches. I’m looking forward to those times when I am not rushing to becoming, but simply am.