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What I Learned About Identity From a Transgender Truck Driver

03/04/2014 12:39 EST | Updated 05/04/2014 05:59 EDT

So my friend Dave and I decided to hang out in the city* one night and parked next to a white truck. We hop out of the car and I hear the truck driver beside us ask, "Hey! Does your girlfriend do makeup?" (Why do people always assume that we're a couple? ... probably because we're both Asian and so damn adorable together.)

So I tell him that I do my own makeup.

"Can you do mine?" he asks. I try not to hesitate, and act like it's no big deal that a macho truck driver just asked me to do his makeup. Just to double check, I ask if he's being serious.

"Ya, I am. My makeup and costumes are in the back of the truck."

Which to this, Dave responds with, "Uh dude, we're not going in the back of your truck. I've seen Dexter** before."

The truck driver tells us to trust him (apparently, this was enough for us to believe that he wasn't a serial killer) and opens up the back of the truck. And of course, anytime the back of a truck opens, you're obliged to look in. Sure enough, costumes. An abundance of them, along with heels I made sure to take note of and purchase later on.

He hands over his cosmetics case and I proceed to put makeup on him. (He likes to apply his own foundation though).

He tells us where he's going after and that he's looking forward to performing on stage, and I ask him the one question that had been drilling in my mind: Why? (Not like a judgmental ew-why-would-you-want-to-do-this? but more to gain a better understanding of his story, type of why)

And he says this:

"I feel more powerful as a woman. Women have so much authority. They can get what they want. They can play dress-up. They can change their identity. And they make men weak."

Now I'm sure every transgender has his/her reason for wanting to dress "differently". But I'm glad I got to understand this truck driver's perspective. Sticking with the mentality that everyone has a story, his story has motivated me to further want to understand and get to know strangers. I find his story inspiring and empowering. For everyone.

It makes us realize that our identity is flexible and ever-changing. And it's important that you embrace how you feel and just be. Because at the end of the day, it's your identity; If people aren't accepting, who cares? Don't minimize yourself for the sake of others. The definition of normality has become a moot point, and I'm glad; because who would want to be limited and confined in a box?

*When I say "city" I really mean "the village". If you're from Toronto, you know where that is.

** If you don't know about this show, just Google it and make sure to free up your day, because you will be glued to your screen.

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