I left my client early today -- relatively speaking. The last two days have been a nightmarish series of product migrations, customer wrangling, promises made, and promises broken. It was just after 7pm, and the sky was already black in Alabama. I quickly toted my messenger bag and purse back to my rental, a red SUV with Louisnana plates. I zipped up my leather jacket part-way to defend against the cool fall air.

The previous two days I had left at 9 and 11pm respectively. I had put in 27 hours of work over the course of those two days.

I had read the feeds while was idle between updates, shutdowns, and restarts. This is DOR's tenth year. For five of those years now, I've lived as a transgender woman. For three of those years I've submitted artwork to the DOR Webcomics Project. I had wanted to make a proper submission this year. I had tried to make the time, but fatigue, stress, and the last work week, prevented me from doing more than scratching at the paper. That's not entirely true, of course. I did manage to draw a simple piece of "concept art". Before requesting Ms. Dolari to accept that piece as my submission this year, she had already done so.

I informed my company of my lengthy hours this morning. Those hours quickly became longer by mid-afternoon. Originally, my company sent me out here to train some of the staff and work with their transaction monitoring configuration. I wasn't sent here to update their production environment -- the very thing the client expected. We've had so little time for hands-on training, that the client requested that I extend my stay here through next week. 

I received compliments through mid-afternoon from my managers and superiors. Even the Second-in-Command called me directly. "If I had know this is what they wanted, I wouldn't have sent you there. I'm sorry." If I wasn't already confounded into silence, she cemented it, "What you've done here won't be forgotten. We'll find a way to pay you back."

I won't be forgotten...

The words stuck with me as I walked across the harshly lit parking lot.  Something else stuck with me, something from the feeds I had been peeking out throughout the evening. "The suicide rate is up to 50% among the transgender population." "1 in 12 transgender individuals are killed." I couldn't help but look over my shoulder at the thought. Was someone waiting for me in the shadows? Someone carrying fists, knives, and malice?

"You won't be forgotten."

I received a call earlier in the week from my surgeon. The caller ID read "unknown caller", and I sent it to voice mail. She had scheduled a date for my final transformation -- January 8th, 2010. I cursed myself for not turning in the form sooner, for delaying it out of fear and procrastination. She suggested that December is still possible scheduling this far out, but she can't be certain. I haven't had the time to return her call.

Would I be forgotten?

I've often wondered what would happen if my company discovered my transgender status. Would they fire me? Suggest I pursue "other opportunities"? Sometimes on evenings like this I can almost believe they'd guard me all the more fiercely. Despite my daydreams, I keep my status to myself as it would unnecessarily complicate my work life. I've been extraordinarily lucky to have gotten this far. As I closed the driver side door behind me and drove from the parking lot, a question hung above me.

How many are forgotten?

Too many, I thought, too many.