While playing Gran Turismo 2 in the seventh grade, Samantha turned to Sasha and, after saying she had something important to tell them, said, “I’m transgender.” She told Sasha how she felt about her body and what her therapist had told her. “You’re the only one who knows what you feel,” Sasha said. “If that’s the word for what you feel, then stick with that.” To Sasha, Samantha’s feelings about her gender were no big deal. “Now, what’s the important thing you had to tell me?” they asked.
Samantha’s feelings about her gender are no big deal to Sasha because they do not identify as either male or female. It also seems that Sasha is trying to soothe Samantha’s anxieties by providing her with a nonjudgmental ear that won’t overreact, which is why Sasha jokingly asks Samantha what that “important thing” she wanted to talk about was. Sasha can empathize with Samantha’s “disorienting feeling” because they too have had a gender projected onto them that they don’t personally identify with.
Now, five years later, Samantha is a “handsome, apple-cheeked young man named Andrew.” His conversation with Sasha in the seventh grade had been “one of the most validating moments of his life.” Back then, Andrew never talked about his gender, and it was quite some time before he told his parents that he was transgender. He was even Sasha’s date for a dance at school, but his dress and makeup were “still just a costume.” By the time Andrew got to high school, he had “begun his gender transition.”
Sasha is the first person to acknowledge and accept Andrew’s true gender identity, and it is this acceptance that gives Andrew the courage to project his rightful gender to others. The formal dress Andrew wears to the school dance is “still just a costume” because Andrew does not identify as female and the dress only serves to hide his real identity rather than express or celebrate it.