One of my oldest friends, going back all the way to elementary school, is Slade Taggart, a friend who I love like a brother.

After learning of my transsexual crisis and my decision to transition, Slade and I talked on the phone every week or so for a month or two, then occasionally, then not at all. I had read on one of my discussion boards an interesting analysis by a doctor about her struggle to try to understand where her transgendered nature came from, but that her ultimate realization was that its origins are less important than her decision to do something about it. Slade, being a scientist himself, had expressed a lot of interest in origins, so I thought he would like this email, which I forwarded to him, along with a note saying that when he comes to Empire Falls in August for our 30th high school reunion, he really ought to stay with me out at my ranch.

I got the following terse reply:

Hi. I have booked a hotel for the weekend and I don’t want to be problem to anyone. Also, please don’t send me any more information. These missives are actually disturbing for me.

I thought we were making progress, perhaps nothing like a love fest, but nothing that brought us to what sounds to me as a brush off. A bit stunned, I wrote him back with the following email that apologized for making him nervous and telling him that I understand what he’s saying loud and clear:

OK – I didn’t mean to be a pest; I just thought the medical person’s self-inquiry sounded a lot like your questions about etiology. From here on out, I assume that you are in charge of the nature and pace of our relationship. Yours, Joyce.

I feel rejected and guilty — for having made him feel disturbed, but also for being transsexual — I know it’s his problem as to how he deals with my changes, but I can’t help but feel like a catalyst for estrangement. Maybe he’s still thinking things over and I have mis-read his tone and intent — I sure hope so.