“What is your experience as a library user” I was asked. I paused for a moment before explaining, briefly, how I spent my childhood visiting them, and now take my own kids. I confessed a love of books, of writing, and of learning.

Less than a week later I would find out I got the job. I start in just over a week as a part time library technician. Job interviews, and especially getting one in a new field, are always stressful. You don’t get much time to truly reflect on what you should, could have, or wanted to say at the time until much later. I’ll be leading some of the children’s programming and I can’t help but reflect on what libraries have meant throughout my life.

I’m sure my readers won’t be shocked to learn that I wasn’t a very popular kid. Queer before we’d taken back the word, bisexual before I knew that was even something that existed, and trans before I even understood what dysphoria was. I was overweight. I was intelligent. I had weird interests and played video games in a time where that was still the pass time of geeks. Anytime I wanted to run and hide from the bullies and the pressure I would find myself tucked away in the quiet corner of the library.

Getting lost in a book was a temporary escape from reality. No one talked to me when I was reading and I remained too absorbed to listen anyway. Minutes changed to hours as I turned page after page before ever realizing that so much time had passed. It was escapism and learning all rolled into one and I devoured everything I could find. Fiction. Classics. Reference. Manga. It didn’t matter. Sure, I’m drawn to more heady and intellectual reads, but as a kid my time was more free and so was my range of interests.

When my friends were away I relished in my summer holidays alone. I can recall one in particular where I walked back and forth to the library almost every day only to come home and read the books that night. A few that I can remember truly helped shape my world views into the person I am today. Turning struggle and loneliness into success and friendship was most inspiring. I’ve always felt comfortable in the library. Safe. At home. Books don’t judge you.

I nervously entered the main library branch and made my way into the office of my new boss. Nervously I confessed the name I gave them wasn’t legal and the offer letter would have to be changed. I aplogized and explained the $400 price tag on my happiness.

“I’m going to make an assumption that you’re transitioning, right?” she asked. It took me aback, but only for a moment. I had a sneaking suspicion by the lack of gender pronouns during my interview and prevalence of google search that she already knew a lot more about me than I has shared. “Everyone here will be very accepting.”

I can’t put into words the level of relief I’m feeling. After months of searching I found an accepting job in the most amazing workplace. What an amazing Christmas gift.