This was a really touching story and I love the idea of exploring the experience of an LGBTQ individual in such an honest and forthright way. These kinds of stories need to be told more often, and I thought you did an excellent job setting up a compelling and engaging story.
If I had one small nitpick for the premise, I'm wondering if Austin is the right setting for the story. Austin is by far the most liberal big city in Texas, and has even adopted a somewhat proud reputation for being a place that recognizes and even celebrates the weird. I feel like this story would would be a little stronger thematically if Lexy were going back to a more conservative city/town in Texas, rather than the one place that celebrates diversity. I know that's a huge generalization, but I think this might be a case where the choice of setting could make a difference and help reinforce the themes you're trying to explore in the story.
The exposition at the beginning of the story felt a little heavy, particularly the mention of Lexy's transition so early on. Also, the mention of her being a legal advocate felt a little forced. I'll discuss this in more detail in the "Dialogue" section below. Other than that, I think the story worked. It was simple, straightforward, and created room for the character drama to play out, which is the highlight of this piece.
Lexy is an incredible character. You did a great job of creating a rich, nuanced character who goes through a whole host of emotions while revisiting her hometown. I think we all carry certain baggage when we go back and visit the places of our past, and I fully believed how traumatic Lexy's childhood in Texas was, and her apprehension about going back. Adinah and John were excellent supporting characters as well.
By far, the best line of the piece was "This is where Alexander died." That's one hell of a line and, unfortunately, I think it gets a little undercut by the continuing conversation filling in information about how she transitioned, used to be Alexander, etc. I think you need to give that sentiment some room to breathe... if you can hold off on the reveal for a little longer, it will allow the reader to sit with Alexander's "death" for a little while. The assumption is that Alexander is a person, and this part of the story is quick to point out that rather than being a literal person, it's a persona. To help an audience empathize with Lexy's struggle, let them marinate in the idea that a physical person has died, so that the later reveal of who Alexander really was is all the more impactful. I'll suggest something specifically in the "Structure" section of this review if you're interested in suggestions for how to accomplish that.
As mentioned in review #1 as well, I think you need to pare down the dialogue just a bit. What's unsaid can be just as important as the actual words that are used, and I think silence and inference can really be a benefit in weighty conversations like the ones found throughout this story. For example, when they're in the restaurant:
"I'm ready. John, Alexander, you ready?" She shook her head. "Dang it, I meant Lexy. I knew you as my brother, so it's taking some adjusting to you being my sister."
I think you could even more effectively modify that to:
"I'm ready. John, Alexander, you ready?" She shook her head. "Sorry, I meant Lexy."
Between what's unsaid in this version (and using the waiter's reaction to supplement the information), you create a much more powerful moment than literally playing out all the nuance through dialogue. Let some of the silence and non-verbal indicators of the characters do some of the heavy lifting, especially when it's an awkward topic of conversation or a sensitive issue. Most people tend to avoid saying any more about those topics than they have to.
I would suggest playing with the pacing and structure of this piece a little. It's fine the way it is, but I think ther are a few moments in this story that could be real showstoppers if they're set up and paid off just a little differently.
For example, Lexy is clearly apprehensive about going to her sister's house, but once they arrive she just hops out reasoning that she's as ready as she'll ever be. I think this is a prime opportunity to put the reader in Lexy's shoes. Have them feel the same discomfort and apprehension that Lexy is feeling. The longer you hold on this scene in the car, the more squeamish the reader is going to get, which will help them reflect the feelings that Lexy is going through. IMHO, this
is where I'd lay out the information about her actually being Alexander, and the other information about why she hasn't come back to town until now. If the reader is sitting in the car with John and Lexy, and learns a lot of weighty information right now, they're going to go through a whole gamut of emotions... finding out that Alexander isn't a literal person but actually Lexy, finding out that Lexy is transgender, learning the history of why she left Texas and hasn't been back since... all of that playing out here will build dread in the reader the way it's building in Lexy and will make her decision to head into the house that much more weighty for the reader as well.
Similarly, there are a few other points where the timing isn't quite matching up with the events in the story. John looks at his watch and comments on how ridiculously long it's been since they ordered their food, but the actual timing of the conversation has only resulted in a couple of minutes elapsing. Work in a little additional detail so that the reader understands the relative time that has passed. The drinks being empty are a good clue; I think if you add a few more details like that (the waiter walking by repeatedly, bringing out other order to other tables, etc.), you'll better set up how long it's been before John complains and brings attention to the sleight.
Just a handful of small typos:
A ping pang of guilt nudged at Lexy's insides. "I take it she was sick for a while?"
Lexy gritted her teeth. "If she loved me so much, she would have looked for me, accepting me as her daughter. Instead, she chose to mourn over the son I never was."
Lexy's blood pressure rose, causing a fire to creep up her spine, toward her ears. "Stayed and what? Lived a lie? I didn't choose this! If I had a choice I would have chosen to be a cisgender*
, but that's not what life gave me.
I believe that "cisgender" is an adjective, not a noun. Therefore someone can "be cisgender" or you can refer to "a cisgender individual/person/etc." but someone cannot "be a cisgender" in and of itself, as cisgender on its own is not a proper noun. To be fair, though, I'm not entirely 100% sure on this; I'm just basing it on what few conversations I've had and/or heard on the topic of gender roles and labels.
Overall, I thought this was an excellent piece. The characters were outstanding and the story was simple and effective. I think there's some room for improvement as outlined above (particularly with the pacing, setup and payoff, dialogue, etc.), but you've got an incredibly strong foundation already. This is an outstanding piece.