GABI

Jamaica Plain, MA

What are your pronouns?

She/her/hers.

Where do you work?

I just left one job and I’m starting a new one in a few weeks. It’s a major coffee company.

Do you have any hobbies or special interests?

Hanging out with my friends, and trivia. I actually just started hosting trivia nights in pubs, so that’s been a fun little thing. I’ve been a longtime player and pretty good at trivia. It kind of takes me back to some of my old radio days doing remote broadcasts, except now it’s right or wrong answers. They’re fun.

What do you do for fun?

I’m still a big sports person, so I like to go to Red Sox games, and movies. I’m kind of a movie buff. I’m not opposed to wasting a day here and there on a Law & Order: SVU marathon.

How do you handle the issue of pronouns and being gendered when interacting with strangers / mixed company / etc?

It’s funny, because it’s only been just over five months that I told the first person in my life that I felt that I was a woman, and that I’ve known since I was about two feet high. So in the beginning, it would shock me if people used feminine pronouns. But then I had a couple little hospital stays, and I alerted them to my transgender status, and for the most part they’re pretty good. The women seem to be much better at getting the pronouns right. I had a recent hospital stay where nurses were correcting the doctors. But also, I don’t present or am dressed as a woman 24/7 at all, so I can understand it if they see this person that looks like a 60-year-old guy with lipstick on. I get it that there’ll be a mistake. I make the mistake myself sometimes. You know, I’ll say, “I’m a baseball guy,” – no, actually, I’m a baseball girl. As they say, I got into this game late.

Sometimes [it comes up with people] but it’s never been a bad issue. I mean, somebody will say, “I’ve known this guy for years,” and then say, “Oh, sorry Gabi!” But as I said, I’m also not presenting in a dress and heels or fully made up or anything, so I understand that. I was in a supermarket once on my way to a Sephora makeover class, full-glam Gabi – that’s how I refer to the fully dressed me – and even though I was totally glammed out, the person ringing it out said, “Yes sir, what do you need sir, thank you, sir.” Well, what I need is for you to call me “miss.” And it was a major supermarket chain too. You’d think that their HR department would’ve conditioned them a little better.

Have you had difficulties with changing your name and the way it affects you moving through the world, being recognized how you want, or being mis-gendered?

I haven’t started doing anything in the legal process yet with that, but more and more of my friends socially have known me as Gabi. Just before I left my recent job, most of the team there was on board with calling me Gabi. My boss not so much, but the staff was all on board. There was one time when a customer came in and said, “Is he wearing makeup? I’m not sure I’m wild about that,” and one of the members of the team said, “She might be wearing makeup, and if you have a problem with her, maybe you can leave.”

Somebody who’s known me for about a year and a half or two years and has always known me by one name, but [has been] very supportive and understanding the last few months about how I present myself and want to be treated differently now; at first she would be like, “Oh Greg – oh, I’m sorry, Gabi.” Then it draws more attention to it, correcting it out loud. It’s like, let it go this time, try to get it right next time.

What word(s) would you use to describe your identity?

Stylish older woman. I was asked at City Hall at the Flag Raising how I identify. I’m a transgender woman. And it’s not a guy that likes to wear dresses, not a transvestite or drag queen. I finally am projecting to people the woman I’ve always felt I was since I was just a little kid.

Are there ways that you dress / act / speak / etc. to specifically make a statement to others about your identity? Why?

Mascara and earrings are my two weaknesses. If I say I left the house without makeup on, mascara doesn’t count. I always wear mascara, and am very rarely seen without earrings. They’ve gotten a little hoopier and a little bigger as I’ve gotten more comfortable.

How early on did you know or suspect that you did not identify within the binary?

I think I was literally maybe six years old. My grandmother was walking me up to the beauty salon; we were going there to pick up my mother because she was finishing an appointment. The owner’s daughter who was about my age, we would hang out in the yard sometimes. They called her in and they started making her up and doing her hair like all the older women who were in there. I mentioned, “Boy, she gets to have all the fun,” and my grandmother said, “Well, that’s because she’s a girl.” And I’m like, “Hello, what about me?” And at school, when they lined up the boys’ side and the girls’ side I thought, Why am I over here? That doesn’t seem right. And then I knew that I had the desire for the clothing, but it was never about the clothing. It wasn’t about wearing lipstick or something like that. It was always an internal thing. I knew that I was supposed to be one of those girls. I had girls for best friends. Once, maybe in grade five or six, I was at this girl’s house, and I was actually in her room with her, and as I was coming out her father had just come home from work. He said to her mom, “I’m not sure about the boy being in her room,” and she says, “Oh stop it Tony, he’s just like one of her best girlfriends.” And she immediately saw me and was like, “Oh my god Greg, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean that,” and it’s like, “Eh, don’t worry about it.” And as I was leaving, I don’t know if my feet even touched the ground when I went home, I just felt so good about being called one of her girlfriends.

I remember there was one person in Jamaica Plain who was known as “the boy who liked to dress up like a girl.” And you never wanted to be seen talking to this person. It was 50 years ago. I’m not a fan of formerly Bruce now Caitlyn Jenner, because I don’t find that person to be an extremely nice person. I think it’s always been about, “How can this benefit me the most? If others fall in my wake, well that’s their problem.” I felt that way about him for years, and about her now, the same way. That being said, I also get it. If Bruce didn’t come out as Caitlyn, I’m probably not wearing this dress having this conversation with you today. So I get that.

For 59 years and about 7 months, I played a role. I was acting, creating a certain part that I played practically 24/7. It was exhausting, and I didn’t want to play that part anymore. I couldn’t play that part anymore. I think [the reason I waited until now was because] I thought it was too late. I could look back in hindsight and say I wish I’d done it when I was 25 and looked cute in a skirt and heels and stuff like that, but it was a different time. And there were people who did come out, but I didn’t have that courage, and I admired them. I was much too concerned with what I was supposed to project. Losing some friends – it wasn’t this kind of issue, but losing friends to suicide. I’m tired of bottling things up. I was starting to feel like a volcano, that I was just ready to erupt.

My friend Kate, an incredible friend, she’s a very direct person. So she sits down next to me and says, “So what important thing is it that you feel you need to talk to me about?” I jumped out of my chair. When she said that it was like, she’s seeing through me, she knows there’s something wrong. She did know there was something bothering me. [Several weeks later] I thought, This is probably the time. Because I was saving a few razorblades for bad reasons. And I said, “I’m a woman. And I know I always have been.” She had no problem with it whatsoever of course. She’s 35 and she’s known she’s been a lesbian since she was 15 or 16, and she doesn’t care what people are. They’re all people. She goes, “Oh my God, that’s great, you were so upset.” She was truly concerned for me. I had even said I wasn’t sure if anything would even come of it. I still kind of thought I would be taking it to my grave for the most part. Unfortunately, I was kind of bringing myself to where that grave was going to be happening a lot quicker than I probably should’ve. Even after I told her, [6 days later] I was playing Etch-A-Sketch with a razorblade on my wrist.

Do you think anything about the way you were raised or where you grew up affected how you drew conclusions about your identity?

 

Well, it wasn’t like there were a lot of women around and I thought it would be better to be one of them or something. I just always knew who I was. When I was about 10, technically the first person I told was my grandmother. And it was more like, “I think I should be with the other girls.” I mean this is 50 years ago. So this is a woman who’s like 65 back then, and she says, “You can never tell anybody you said that. You understand that, right?” And I don’t know, just my surroundings, I enjoyed being around women… Of course I had to act out the boy part as much as humanly possible. So I’d get into fights and I played sports, and eventually went into the Air Force for a little while. And I don’t say this like I was a player or a playboy or something, but I was with an incredibly large amount of women. As it turns out, that wasn’t the bad part, because I really do like women. I did then and I do today. But because I wasn’t really dealing with them on the same level that they might’ve been looking for the male in the relationship, that was more why there was a lot of them, and not one of them that lasted a long time.

I remember once, I was 17 and it was about a week before Halloween. This girl and her brother and a couple of his friends and I happened to show up at the house, and she put a little eye makeup on us. Back then everyone had really long hair. My hair was down past my shoulders. So she curled it a little bit and put a little makeup on, and then when it was time to go home, I of course washed it out and washed my face off. The following morning, my mother saw a little makeup that we didn’t get all the way off, and that didn’t go over well. I said, “Debbie was trying to make us look ghoul-y for Halloween,” and she said, “It looks more girly.” And then she walked away. The words that still hang over me right now were, “Greg, you know I’m always proud of you. I’d never be disappointed” – and then the big pause as she’s ready to walk away – “Just don’t be a sissy.” In hindsight, I’m not suggesting that she wouldn’t love me anymore if I was or said I felt more like a girl, but I just think that she knew. It was hard for anybody, any guy that acted a little effeminate. If there was a woman with short hair and flat shoes back then, all of a sudden it’s like there was something wrong with her. It was that hush when they walked by. It was a different era.

I just always felt I had to compensate. Even when I got married. She’s a little upset with me now, because she felt I wasn’t being honest back then. And it wasn’t so much I was trying to be dishonest with her; I was being dishonest with myself. It’s like, “Okay, if I can get married, and we can produce children, I’ll be okay, and maybe the woman thing is some weird thing in my head that I’ll finally be able to bury.” She was never getting buried. She was waiting to come out. It’s not an alter ego thing. It’s me. it’s who I am. But I just always had to try to bury that, had to try to make it go away.

Can you give any examples of misconceptions people have about those who identify outside the binary? Have you personally dealt with them?

One of the questions I get asked a lot, I’ve gotten this from nurses when I was in the hospital and some other women I know: “So, you gettin’ some guys?” It’s like, “No, I like women.” “Yeah, but now that you’re a woman, you wanna be with a guy, right?” And these are fairly intelligent adults, 35, 40 years old. The nurse who stood up to the doctor, when I mentioned I’d always liked women – and she wasn’t trying to be mean or anything – but she said, “Well, until now you mean, right? You like guys now, right?” Sorry, never been with one, and no desire to start now.

A good portion of my support network, my total friend network, it’s probably more than 50% lesbian women. The woman I came out to in January, she’s married to a lovely woman. I had made the mistake when I first met her – I was guilty of assuming the wrong thing – we were still unsure of names, and I’d heard she just got married, and I said, “Oh, who’s the lucky guy?” and she goes, “It’s a woman, actually.” I felt like such an idiot, because I really do have a number of lesbian friends who are engaged or married. But then I caught myself thinking, Yeah, that’s why people make that mistake, it’s that older misconception. As I said, she’s the woman I came out to. A little while after that we quickly developed a really tight friendship.

In your own words, how would you explain that gender identity is different from sexual orientation?

It’s not about who I am attracted to or want to sleep with. It’s about who I know I am. I suppose I could change my mind on my sexuality tomorrow, but the fact that I know that I’m a woman will never change. It never has. As much as I tried to bury it. I’ve always known I was a woman. I think there are people at all stages of their life that maybe acted straight because they thought they were supposed to. And then it’s like, Hey, that person of my same gender looks attractive right now. I just don’t equate them as the same. Being a woman has nothing to do with who I’m attracted to.

How do you feel represented in media and society at large?

Much better now. It’s like the last year or so, the transgender issue seems to be out there more than the gay issue for the most part. I don’t mean to suggest that it’s all better and there are no problems anymore, but it’s almost, “Old news, been there done that” kind of thing, or “Been there, talked about it.” The transgender thing’s a little different. A gay man, a lesbian woman – they can hide it, and go to work every day, and until they get to their bedroom, no one ever knows. But a trans person, if I’m living it out to be a woman, I’m not walking around with a crew cut and plaid shirt on. All of a sudden it’s like, “Is that a guy in a dress?” So it’s much more visual in that respect. It’s a little harder to live it and not be seen or have people wonder about it.

What improvements would you like to see happen in and outside of your community?

I think the obvious elephant in the room is, right now, the Public Accommodations Bill. I fully dressed have avoided ladies’ rooms at all costs trying to find one I could slide into quietly because I’m not trying to give any 6-year-old girl a new lesson. And frankly because I think it would be more the parents that are telling them that it’s not right. I did a Facebook post the other day, it was a cartoon, and it had a mom walking with a little girl and what looked like probably an F-to-M male, and the little girl asked, “Mommy, is that a boy or a girl?” and mommy said, “That’s a person.” If everyone else could just kind of get that: we’re all people. If I want to use the ladies’ room, it’s because I physically need to use a restroom, and I feel that I’m a woman. I know that I am, I’ve felt that way my entire life.

I just wish for acceptance. People are just different. I’ve always prided myself on trying to be accepting if it was something I didn’t totally understand. Not everybody’s the same color. Not everybody wants to sleep with people of the opposite gender, or the same gender. Is somebody with brown hair better than somebody with blonde hair? Everybody’s a snowflake, everyone’s just a little bit different. It doesn’t make you better or worse because you’re different. And fortunately, at least in my own head, I have no recollection of feeling anything else. Not that that makes me any better than anybody else, but I feel better in my own skin about that.

Could you tell me about an experience or moment in your life that was very impactful for you? It can be in regards to your identity, or not.

When I was married, and my wife got pregnant. I started thinking, Okay, I’m a normal guy. Got her pregnant. So that must be okay. I must be all right. We got pregnant a few times, but never made it to term. Twice lost kids at four or five months. But I was totally happy with my two stepsons. I’ve lost quite a few friends to suicide. I don’t know if anybody can ever get used to that. I’ve lost five people in the last three and a half years to suicide. And that’s not counting the ones I knew when I was younger. And it wasn’t even people struggling with sexuality, it was just people that felt the need to take their own life. I’ve gone through my own periods with that numerous times, as recently as January 25th.

When Robin Williams died – he was like a hero for me. 9/11. I couldn’t believe, watching TV as the plane struck the building. The Marathon Bombing. It just leaves you numb. I was about a mile away when the bombs went off.

Could you give me an example of something difficult that occurred in your life how you dealt with it? It can be in regards to your identity, or not.

Well, the suicides. Real big. My divorce was pretty big. And I’d get into depression, and unfortunately got suicidal myself a handful of times. Most of that dealt with this constant need to hide who I knew I was. It always seemed to fall back to that. In 1978 I used to work at a place called Black Friars on Summer St. in Boston, and five people including the owner and a couple managers all got gunned down. June 28th, 1978. Not that it’s kind of hanging in my head at all. Five people, and nobody ever went to jail for it. They were my friends. I left a couple hours before the incident happened, because he wasn’t going to watch a game I wanted to watch. Otherwise I would’ve been there myself. So that was probably the first most impactful thing, I would say. That hung with me for a long time.

[I dealt with it] through friends. I was always reading and hoping that somehow there would’ve been justice involved. But I probably drank too much, tried to bury it that way. Actually one of the things I tried to do was coordinate different friends together, to be there for each other. Because we weren’t going to see Vinny, Jack, Peter, Charlie, or Freddy again. Here’s a strange analogy. The movie Oh, God with George Burns and John Denver. George Burns was God, and he revealed himself to John Denver. And John Denver’s character was standing in a bathrobe, he’s flipping out, he said, “I’m talking to God, this is crazy, I don’t know what to do,” and he’s practically having a breakdown over it. And God – George Burns – said, “Shave.” “Why do I wanna shave?” “Because you can’t figure out anything normal, so find yourself something normal to do.” So if you just find yourself something normal, then the craziness maybe doesn’t seem as obvious. That’s a weird analogy, but it’s kind of like what I was trying to do back then. It’s like, Let’s try to be normal. Let’s go to work, and though we can never forget these guys, they’re not coming back, let’s just try to make our lives better.

Who in your life do you feel you can trust or depend on?

Since I came out in January, I’ve built a good support system. I came out on Facebook in February. It was overwhelming. I was ready to burst and I had to do it. A lot of people who were my Facebook friends were people I hadn’t seen in 30 years and would have no clue. About 150 people [liked and commented] and none of them were negative. All of them were positive. Some of the people on there were women who at some point in my life I’ve slept with. One of them was like, “Whoa, didn’t see that coming, but I’m glad you’re happy.” So that was pretty overwhelming.

I can count the people on one hand who have been very unsupportive. And the disappointing thing was, one of them has been something like a best friend for 40 years. He’s convinced that I’m mentally unstable and that I have a problem. Anybody in the LGBTQ community, he hates. My cousin, her and I grew up like Siamese twin brother and sister, we were just always close. We were the two in the family who were always there for each other, who we could always count on. She’s convinced that I made her life hell now that I told her who I am, and that everybody in the family would be turning in their grave, and that I did this to her

My best friend up in Maine for the last 10 years, he hasn’t replied to me on Facebook since the day after I came out. And I’ve probably made about 30 attempts. A year ago, I would’ve said those were the people I could count on most in my life as far as being supportive. My cousin is one of those people who will trash anybody. [The other friend], he’s always been pretty right-wing Conservative, and I’ve always been pretty Left. So there was always an aisle between us in that respect. But we were like brothers who would fight. We would argue good intelligent arguments on either side, we’d state the merits of this and that, and then at the end of the day, [we’d] go get a burger and a beer. Respecting the differences. I’ve always known my friend up in Maine had an issue with it. He started to become proud of the fact that he had “a few gay friends.” Once, a woman he was dating had a very effeminate son, and he says, “I can’t figure out what’s wrong with her. Why didn’t she just throw him a ball when he was kid? He’d be fine.” Okay, you’re just not going to get it.

Arguably [these were] three of the people I thought closest in my life that I could trust with anything. If I had to pick five people, they were three of them, and they’ve been 100% unsupportive and [think] I’m doing a terrible, terrible thing. But, like I said, the flip side of that is I’ve had over 100 people that are just so incredibly supportive. 60-year-old people that get the pronouns right every time. Good for you! You grew up in my era when that was a difficult thing to acknowledge.

How has your identity played a role in your relationships, romantic or otherwise?

I’ve had a couple women that, since they found out, have said, “You know, I had an idea that there was something along that line, I don’t know if it was gay, or you had some female tendencies or something, but once you got comfortable with somebody you weren’t trying to impress them as big macho man anymore.” I guess I would let my guard down a bit. But it’s only been just over five months. I haven’t been in a romantic relationship in that time, and I also realize I’m a lesbian that looks like a man a lot of the time. So it’s a little tough to break the ice. In four months, I’ll always be totally made up and representing as Gabrielle, and Greg will be in the rearview mirror a great distance behind. I’ve been patient with that. As far as normal relationships, more and more people are just accepting, and they’ll joke with me about it. They know that I’m a woman, however I look at the moment, until more of the changes sink in, and respectfully always calling me Gabi. It’s kind of like that 100+ friends versus the 3 haters, and that’s what I’m going to concentrate on. Those relationships have been unbelievable.

Are you able to find adequate medical care?

Absolutely. I almost thought I would’ve been moving back to Maine this summer, but since coming out and the treatment and all, I can’t imagine a better place than Boston to be for going through what I’m going through right now. I deal with Fenway Health. I came out January 19th. I was in the hospital so it was just into February when people started to know about me, and I thought, I’m not hiding this. This is who I am and I’m not waiting anymore. They can think what they want, but this is who I am. I was on hormones by April 22nd. Even the doctor said he’d never really prescribed them this early before. There are things… Like for instance, the hormones I’m on, I don’t know how quickly the hips will be different, or I’ll start developing breasts or anything like that, but I understand that insurance wouldn’t cover breast augmentation surgery until you’ve been on the hormones for two years. So there are things that do have dates and times and limits. My doctor and one of his associates had both said that they pretty much like to get to know somebody over a 6 to 9-month period before they’d even consider something like that. After interviewing me for about an hour, my doctor at Fenway said, “Yeah, you’re ready. You’ve been a woman a long time. We’ve gotta finish the job for you.” I was crying. I cry more now.

How has your view of yourself changed since you were younger?

I guess I’m happy that I’m not worried about other people’s opinions anymore. No one wants to be hated by everybody. But if somebody stared at me on the train because I had nail polish on, it’s like, Oh you don’t like it? Too bad. I think it’s a nice color. Where six months ago, if somebody even looked at me like they suspected something, I would’ve been anxiety-ridden. I would’ve been jumping out of the train. I just worried too much that everyone was going to see through me and figure out that I was different, and I wasn’t ready for that. I’m just so happy with myself now. I’m happy with myself that I’m honest about who I am, and that I’m not living my life waiting for other people’s approval. So in that respect, I’m much happier with the way I look at things.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Take better care of yourself and your health. I would’ve looked for ways to come out earlier. When I was 20, it still would’ve been extremely hard to do. But I would’ve found more ways to be honest with myself. If I hurt anybody, I truly feel terrible about that. But I do feel that the biggest mistake I made was not being honest with myself and constantly trying to deny myself who I should’ve been. Maybe you had to be careful back then, 30 or 40 years ago, but I should’ve been working towards it instead of dressing in drag on Halloween once every 15 or 20 years. Figuring that, okay, that’ll satisfy me for a while. But I do love dresses and heels and makeup. I’m a little bit vain, I’d like to be as attractive as I possible could as a woman. But it was never about the clothes. I mean, I want to wear high heels because that’s what women wear. not because I had a fetish. It was never a sexual turn-on to be wearing women’s clothing or anything like that. But I just denied who I was. That’s what I would’ve told younger me: Start working towards things. Be honest with yourself. Maybe you can’t take out a front-page headline yet at this point in life, but get involved. Find out more about it. I just would’ve been honest with myself and tried to move forward with being more honest with myself, and not been overwhelmed trying to be something I wasn’t.

What are your concerns for the future?

For myself, I’m excited about my journey and how quickly it’s been moving. I love the fact that it’s moving quickly. I wish I was better at passing than I am. I wish I was six inches shorter and quite a bit lighter with more feminine features. But I just really wish, when I see the big division now between Right and Left, however you want to call it, I think that’s fear-driven. Like the Public Accommodations Bill, and gun control. I mean, there are real problems out there, and people are saying what bathroom somebody uses is more important than getting Uzis out of the hands of anybody that stops into a Walmart. It sounds generic, but I wish people would just try to understand each other, and respect and accept each other. It would’ve made my life a whole lot easier. I guess that’s it, just recognizing that we all deserve the same respect.

What do you look forward to in the future?

Full-time Gabrielle. And the fact that – though we know it’s not perfect yet and this could be gay, trans, black, white – it’s not a perfect world out there, may never totally be perfect, but I’m just so proud of how far everything’s come, and really excited for how it can be even more accepting in the future. I think that would just be fantastic, if the fact that I can walk down the street at six feet tall enjoying my high heels, people might look over and say, “Hi,” and keep walking by.

I got jumped a couple weeks ago. It was later at night. It was right in front of a construction site, there was a fence and a little temporary sidewalk area, [guy] moved over closer to me like, Oh, I’m gonna hit on this woman. Gets closer, realizes I’m probably not the type of woman he thought I was when he approached me. Next thing, he called me a homophobic slur, that F word, and then he bounces me off the fence. Fortunately, instinct took over and I kind of got lucky, and – for lack of a better way of putting it – I kicked his ass. I mean, it was still upsetting that it happened. As a kid, I had to show how much of a boy I was, so I wasn’t afraid to get into a fight. But I mean, somebody else in my position might not have been able to defend themselves that well. And somebody shouldn’t have been attacked because he realized I wasn’t the kind of girl he was looking for. Not that he should’ve been hitting on any woman that didn’t invite the attention. It could’ve come out a lot worse. So that bothered me, it still shakes me up a little bit, just the fact that it happened. That was upsetting. I wish it hadn’t have happened. I’m lucky that I was able to fend for myself in that situation.

What have been the important frustrations in your life, and the most important successes?

Many times when I got into a bad depression and ended up in a room with a camera in it because I was either swallowing a bottle of pills or leaving a mark on my arm. I couldn’t come to grips with it. I would’ve rather taken my own life out than admit who I was. That was extremely frustrating. I look back on it like, if I just told somebody, it would probably be okay, I could find the right person to tell. But I never did and I tried to take the easy way out and just end it. There’s enough people in my life that I care about, why would I want to do that to them? With the amount of people I’ve lost to suicide, I know how badly it made me feel. So it’s like, if I’m any kind of a friend, why would I want to make them feel that way? I just didn’t think I mattered. And that’s just what I want to do, is matter.

Flip side of that? I like that I’ve done a lot of things. I feel that I’m really happy. I think friends can look at me and know that I really am a friend and that I’d do whatever I could for them. That I’ll always be honest with them. It took a long time for me to be honest with myself, but I always tried to be honest with friends. And let them know that I was there for them. If it was just a shoulder to cry on, a pat on the back, or if somebody needed a few dollars – I like knowing the fact that I was there. It’s kind of like jobs, I’ve liked a number of jobs I did because I kind of became the “go-to” person. I like being that person. Not just for a job responsibility, but in a relationship, that somebody could count on me. Unfortunately, in romantic relationships, it kind of worked the other way because I was never truly being honest I suppose. But I’ve never consciously made an effort to hurt anybody, physically or emotionally. It’s happened a few times, and I felt terrible about it, but I’m glad that it was never my intent to go out and hurt someone.

 

Do you have a philosophy of life? What’s your best piece of advice?

I have a number of quotes on my Facebook page. My favorite one that I used to have stickers of on my desk at work was, “If you don’t have time do something right, when will you have time to do it over?” That was a quote from John Wooden, a former UCLA coach. I like the general principle of the Martin Luther King speech. Just looking for equality. One day little black boys and little white girls can walk down the street holding hands with each other, things like that. And just try to be nice and respectful to each other. That really is important to me. I know how good that makes me feel. I don’t expect somebody to come up and say I’m the greatest person in the world and throw thousands of dollars at me – I don’t know; they can try it if they want – but just be respectful of each other. Respect the differences.

Are there any other questions you would have liked me to ask, or anything else you would like to talk about?

All the people that have been going out of their way to be supportive in this journey – I think of Kate, who became such a great friend. That I finally in almost 60 years, found somebody I could open up to and say that there really was a Gabrielle inside. And just people that have helped out, and people that make the effort to use the right pronouns and such. I go to Sephora in the Prudential Center for makeup classes, and I walk in and everyone’s running, “Gabi, Gabi, come here!” and it’s like a big group hug every time I walk through the door. My friend Shannon gave me a makeup tutorial early on and the Sephora team compliments all the techniques she taught me. I paid attention to every instruction. Remember, I started this whole thing five and a half months ago, after 59 and a half years of fighting it and doing everything the opposite. So the strides I’ve made, I’m extremely grateful for all the help like that. The Queeraoke crowd. If I didn’t find that place that I was comfortable with, I don’t know that I’m in this dress today. Erin, the DJ there, has been overwhelmingly supportive. Encouraging but not pushing. It’s just the people that have gone out of their way to accept me as I am, and not make a big deal out of it.

When I first started this, I didn’t want “Greg’s now Gabi” to be the only thing anybody talked about. I also get it that my situation, once people heard about it, was a little more interesting than, “What’d you have for lunch today?” I get that. Of course. But, after a period of time, it’s gotten normal. My friend Erica works at a restaurant in JP. A couple weeks ago my incredible friend Christine and I were in there for lunch, and she very matter-of-factly walked over and said, “Gabi, I’m loving the lower eyeliner, you are nailing that, girl,” and just moved on. She wasn’t thinking about having to remember to call me Gabi, or not wanting to say it too loud because somebody might hear, that’s just how she looked at me. My good friend Jill at Midway Queeraoke introduces me to people as, “Hey, this is my girlfriend Gabi.” I mentioned that to her one night, and she thought I was upset, and I said, No, it just makes me feel so good that so naturally and matter-of-factly she saw me as her girlfriend Gabi. And not, “Oh, I have to call Greg Gabi in front of these people because he has a dress on” kind of thing. It’s when being accepted is normal. Where I came out was at Eugene O’Neill’s in Forest Hills. That’s where I first told Kate, and that’s where I first started telling people, and everyone there just calls me Gabi. And if I come in looking the way Greg would’ve for a long time, they still call me Gabi.

 

I was at a meeting once – this was like early 90s – and somebody was getting up to speak, and they said, “My name is Roberta.” Except cute little Roberta had a voice like James Earl Jones, and talked about the fact that he was really Robert. Wasn’t transgender, basically just had this urge to – couple of nights a week, maybe on a weekend – he had to let the Roberta side out. And I started thinking about a name. There’s no real progression from Greg, there’s no Gregorina or anything like that. But I kinda liked the G, I thought that was cool, a little unique. I like my G. Then the following night, I’m watching some late-night mystery, and this very Rita Hayworth-esque kind of woman is standing in the doorway. And the guy in the room was like, “So who do we have here?” and the woman goes, “My name’s Gabrielle, but my friends call me Gabi.” That’s it, the search is over. That’s my name. My new name will be Gabrielle Miranda Morgan. The other two names come from, once when I was married, we had a few miscarriages, and one of them apparently looked like it was twins. The girls were going to be Miranda and Morgan. By using the names, it kind of gave them a little bit of life. So that’s who I am.