Tangled Web

Deceptions of a transgender guy


High school reunions


I have a strong aversion to high school reunions. I have never been to one and never intend to go to one. (Touch wood). Why would I want to meet up for a few hours with a bunch of people with whom I had nothing emotional in common? I was a bit of an outcast then, why would I want to subject myself to meeting up again with people who made me feel that way?

An article in Psychology Today mentions the fear and loathing of high school reunions: “It’s common for high school reunions to trigger anxiety about appearance and status. Most of us want to forget our teenage self-conscious emotions that resulted from hormonal changes and social pressures. But years later, at a class reunion, those old insecurities get triggered. They rear their ugly head in the imagined judgment of peers: What will they think? Will I be successful enough? Will I look good to them?”

My question is: Then why on earth go? I had been avoiding attempts to lure me to these reunions, deleting emails from reunion organizers requesting I add more details to a contact list of grade 12 classmates (someone unfortunately scavenged my work email from the web).

I once teased B, deadpanning, “Why don’t we go? I’ll introduce you as my wife and enjoy the reaction!”

She only gave me one of those eloquent looks that told me where to stuff that remark.


See if I care..

In 2010 I had a  “Time for another reunion!” email again. This time I hesitated before stabbing delete, after all, it was to be the 35th reunion. The organizer of this event was a woman who, for some of my primary school years, had lived in the house opposite ours and I remembered playing cricket with and boxing against her two brothers more than I remembered her. I’ll call her Leonora.

I told B about the reunion plans and mentioned my memories of the games we had played in the street between our houses.

“Why don’t I give her a call and invite her over? I see she lives locally now.”  B was peering over my shoulder at the contact list.

“I didn’t like her,” I grumbled.

“She might have changed,” B reasoned. “You might become friends.”

Somehow I relented and Leonora was invited to tea.

Suffice to say, I still did not like Leonora and after she saw that I had a female life partner, she dissolved from my life again. But her brief appearance proved to be for a reason, as she had a new list with contact details of most of our grade 12 classmates. On this list I found the name of a friend whose friendship I treasured and had been looking for since we had lost contact in 1975. We started emailing and soon could take up the threads of a friendship that had unraveled through circumstance and time.

It was to this friend I could explain my need to have top surgery. And her simple “I get it” reply was affirmation enough for me that she had accepted me for who I am.

“Dankie, maaikie.”

Sometimes even high school reunions have a purpose.

Note: While polishing this post, I checked my email. I stared in disbelief at the new email: “Reunion for Class of ’75.” Next year will be the 40th – without me.

Reunion questions



Author: Kris

Hi! I'm Kris. I live in South Africa with my life partner of 27+ years, whom I call B or Madam in my posts. We have a Pug dog child, Remi, also known as Pooch, who has graced and enriched our lives for the past 12 years.

15 thoughts on “High school reunions

  1. I’ve been to a couple of mine and find them pretty boring. I don’t feel like high school was a horrible experience but I also don’t feel like it was the best time of my life either so I have mixed feelings about going to them. I have a few friends from that era that I still socialize with once or twice a year and that’s really enough for me so I doubt I’ll go to another reunion, especially with my gender changes. I just don’t want to get into that with people I used to know.


  2. Thank goodness I’ve never been to one, don’t seem to be the thing here


  3. I haven’t gone to mine either. I think they are for people who think High School was the best time in their life, or who like to keep up with the Joneses. It certainly wasn’t the best time of my life, although it was the first place that people accepted me as a smart yet eccentric kid. I’d like to be a fly on the wall at mine (class of ’76).


    • Yeah, the sporty and social types usually want to keep up with the rest. I was too academic and shy for them. ’75 and ’76 however produced good vintages, if I may speak on your behalf as well. 🙂


  4. Forgot a vital part of previous comment – way too early in the morning and not enough tea … a U.S-ian thing they’ve exported to the rest of the world …


  5. Is this (mainstream) cultural obsession with high school reunions a U.S-ian thing? Like some sort of rite of passage? I don’t remember it being like that in Oz or even noticing a lot of it here in Canada.


  6. Thanks for commenting and reading, much appreciated!


  7. I went to my 25th reunion. There were two people present who I knew to be lesbian or gay. One presented as single; the other brought an opposite sex date; both closeted, at least for the event. It was sad.


    • Sadly, the closet is still the chosen option for many of us older folks (not implying you are one!). I was smothering from the moth balls and dared to step out. Thankfully the constitution changed in us other-gendered people’s favour in South Africa, although many young people in the same country are still suffering badly. One lesbian girl was recently raped and strangled with a wire in one of our black communities, where being gay is still extremely taboo. My heart goes out to these young people.


  8. One of the joys of high school reunions is knowing that I don’t have to go. I never have, and I’ve never regretted it.