Kindness Has No Gender

**This week’s post is by guest blogger Peggy Barons**

 

“Mrs. Barons, there is one thing I need to tell you before we meet today.” he said to me over the phone. “When I met you last month, I was a man, but when you see me today, I will be coming as a woman.”

Living just outside of Boston, owning a horse and hiring a farrier was not something I ever I thought I would be doing. However, the youngest of my four children really wanted a horse, and having spent my childhood in Florida riding horses, I secretly wanted one too.  This meant, however, that frequent trips to the barn for the comfort and care of this 1200 pound pet was now on my to-do list.

While caring for our new horse, Tucker, with my 16-year-old daughter, I observed a gentile farrier replacing the shoes on a horse in a nearby stall. He was a big man but soft spoken. He quietly whispered to the horse as he patted her fetlock and gently lifted her hoof into the air. I thought back to the previous farrier I had hired who wrapped a chain inside Tucker’s mouth, over his gums and repeatedly yanked down on it while shouting at him to hold still and basically terrorized him into submission. I was aghast and horrified, but uneducated in these things and didn’t know enough to stop him. I made a mental vow never to use him again. Seeing this kind man tenderly replacing all four metal shoes as the horse calmly cooperated, I made a point to get his name and number.   I made an appointment well in advance for the next planned shoeing.

The phone call came on my cell phone as I drove to the barn confirming where we would meet.

“Mrs. Barons, there is one thing I need to tell you before we meet today. When I met you last month, I was a man, but when you see me today, I will be coming as a woman.”

I can’t say I wasn’t shocked. Truthfully, I didn’t know what to do. Or say. I wasn’t going to cancel or freak out (although I kind of wanted to, because I’d never encountered anything like this) Questions swirled in my head. Would I be safe? Is it going to be weird? How should I behave? I have to admit, I was very uncomfortable and apprehensive as I continued my drive.

When I arrived at the barn the farrier’s truck pulled in behind me and out stepped a kind looking woman, slightly overweight with designer jeans, cute boots, blonde wavy hair, and long red fingernails.   I introduced myself and we walked to the barn together. We talked about my horse.  I thought Tucker was 12 years old, I said. We bought him at an auction and knew nothing about his history. He was a little jittery and bucked my daughter off once, but was well behaved with me.

He is adjusting to a new home and new relationships with the other horses, the farrier told me, and that it takes time to build the bond between owner and horse. He was kind and encouraging.

I couldn’t help noticing that he had on a body suit under his clothes to make his shape appear more womanly. It was hot out, and that body suit added further bulk and heat as he carefully filed Tucker’s hooves. The long nails probably felt cumbersome as well. I thought about how much easier it would be to do this type of work in loose jeans, and a flannel shirt – in regular man type clothing. Why would he go to all this trouble for something that would ultimately make his job more difficult?

It takes a long time to shod a horse. First the worn metal shoes must be pried off, the hooves trimmed and filed down and then new shoes literally hammered into the hoof. This is not painful to the horse, but sometimes it is frightening. The whole process can take nearly two hours or more.   During that time we talked. At first just about horses but the discussion gradually moved toward gender identity.   Even though I heard the sound of a man’s voice, I felt as though I was chatting with a close girl friend.

I learned that this big burly guy, never felt like a man. I also learned a few other shocking things. He served in the military and played semi pro football.

“I don’t understand” I said. “How can you do those things and yet dress and feel like a woman?”

“I tried everything I could to be a man, the tougher the better. I’m not sure who I was trying to convince, myself, my family or the outside world?”

No matter what he tried, though, he still thought, and felt like a woman.

I asked him what his family thought and if he considered a sex change operation. He said his family still has a difficult time with it. I understand. They are mourning the loss of the little boy and the young man they thought they knew.   New people he meets are actually okay with it he said. I understood that too. I, of course, didn’t really know him before, and the more we spoke, the more I saw him as a woman. Not because of the wig or the designer jeans, but you could ‘hear’ it in the things she said.

It’s a tough life when your brain thinks one way, but your body says you should be something different. It’s living a lie. I understand this better having met this young farrier and I am forever grateful for our encounter.

3 Comments

  1. This is a very sensitive portrayal of a situation that is becoming more common in our world today. I am sure that the farrier appreciated your kindness and calm acceptance to this unusual encounter.

  2. Margaret KARISNY April 23, 2015 at 1:54 pm

    great piece. It is so much easier for this younger generation to understand , but only when we open our hearts and take the grace and time to get through our own issues , will there be peace and love to everyone’s children

  3. judy Fine-Edelstein April 28, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    This is a beautiful essay. You honestly described your feelings, and I can tell you treated your farrier with dignity and respect. If only the world were filled with people who could see past our outward selves, and take the time to make connections like these. Great piece!

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