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More Than a

More Than a


How a little thing like cancer (and passing through airport security) turned one lesbian into a superhero.

My legs are spread about three feet apart, arms extended as far as they can reach. I am ready for takeoff. There's just one problem: the man between my legs, who's patting me down. This is after the female security guard and male security guard engaged in a nonverbal dialogue that involved quick glances, sudden smirks, and a lot of finger pointing, as if each guard was saying to the other, "I don't know if it's a she or a he! I'm not going to pat it down. You pat it down!"

So now a male airport security guard is moving up from my ankles, smoothing out the fabric around my round ass, my inner thighs, up to my crotch. Ding ding ding ding! We have a loser! The guard is now painfully aware that he has made the wrong visual decision. He gets up from between my legs, "Ah, we're all finished. You can leave, sir, ma'am. Go!"

This kind of thing happens a lot. I do kind of look like a boy. And I date women. And, well, I no longer have breasts. OK, so I'm missing some parts, but that doesn't mean that I'm less of a woman. Maybe the Bee Gees were referring to breast cancer survivors when they sang, "More than a woman, more than a woman to me..." As if when you survive breast cancer, regardless of the physical ramifications, you transcend gender and become a superhero -- like Wonder Woman.

Which is why I'm waiting for a flight out of Florence, Italy, to London and then to Dallas and ultimately to Phoenix -- it was a cheap ticket -- in my tight black Wonder Woman T-shirt, the one that makes me look like a cute gay boy (or so my gay male friends tell me). I approach the security checkpoint and do my own little mental checklist so that I may proceed without being felt up: no change in my pockets, no belt buckle, no metal plate in my head. I'm good to go. The male security guard nods, granting me permission to cross the yellow line, under the gray steel frame of the metal detector, and into the friendly skies. My right foot tentatively joins my left foot over the line and into freedom. I land. I breathe. Life is good. And then I hear it: ah-ooh-gah! ah-ooh-gah! like a Klaxon warning a ship of a tempest right around the corner.

Before I can move, a navy blue uniform adorned with stripes and medals rushes toward me. Hands are flying, rubbing, pressing, patting me down in places that are usually reserved for women I call girlfriend or men I call the police on. What is going on? Who is this guy? Why does he think he can touch me like this? Wait a second, he's a she. The security guard continues to rub her strong hands along the inseams of my pants, then makes her way to a standing position, staring directly into my eyes -- if Sophia Loren had a 28-year-old niece, this woman would be 10 times sexier. She pauses, looks me up and down, and in a thick Florentine accent says, "I love Wonder Woman."

The corners of my mouth crinkle upward to produce an awkward smile, the kind you make when you're flushed and horny and confused. She smiles back and turns away to give her cohorts a smirk that signifies she has scored. Finally, airport security that knows exactly what it's looking for.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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Tania Katan