April and I was finally starting to get used to my new life. But no matter how much it seems to people on the outside like a switch has been flipped, to someone like me it’s more that another hurdle has been passed, a big one for sure, but just another one.
I had a lot of optimism and I didn’t really see some of the issues around me, perhaps just as well. It would have been much harder had I immediately realized the my guy friends were drifting away rapidly, but I wasn’t totally unobservant:
I’m spending more and more of my time talking with the women at work and much less talking to the guys. I don’t know that I shouldn’t make more of an effort to keep it even. One is the better half of my associate dept head (but not in the same dept), and I’m pretty friendly with both of them. She and I spent way too much time talking today – I’m helping her out on a task. I got a different view of my whole paranoia of not being socialized as a woman. She pointed out that regardless, every person is different and their socialization can be entirely foreign (literally) to one’s own. Her message was basically, you can’t change it and it doesn’t really matter. I have to internalize it but it seem right to me.
Then I posted this. I got it half right:
When I wrote the email, I had in particular the need to balance giving people enough information to understand why one would decide to make this kind of a change in one’s life, while not evoking pity. As I see it, pity destroys the peer relationships you have because you’ve become less than you were, someone to be felt sorry for. As such it can, at least for a time, derail those relationships and your career, which is usually pretty dependent on your image. Add that to the possible reactions to transition and you have a bad mix, even in as good an environment as I found myself in.
I’d urge others considering going full time to keep this need in mind while crafting communications about being trans. I don’t think I’m stating anything controversial when I say we’d all like to be seen and have at least the same standing and relationships as before in the workplace (obviously with the exception of sex/gender). That does require that you’re seen as strong and making a needed decision.
Pity is bad in the rest of your life too. Friendships are between equals, at least in an approximate sense. If you’re seen as requiring pity or being needy this will not have a good effect on your relationships.
I think this is all true, but what it doesn’t say is that it would be best to keep it really brief. Give your friends or colleagues permission to come ask questions if they want to. Too much information is not a good thing – there will be people who receive your email who are not ok with what you’re doing no matter what the reasons are. They will think it’s wrong and no argument will budge them.
You may wonder given some of the not so positive things I’ve written about, or the wry bits of humor I sometimes slip in like a sharp knife, why one would do all this. Well, here’s a posting in it’s entirety that I think really answers that question.
Sitting here with a pink headscarf on having taken the wig off to style it. Stupid wet weather we’re having. Droopy hair
I called a local (relatively) place that does hair systems and talked with the lady in charge. It sounds like I need to wait a couple of months for more hair to grow in first, sigh.
It’s going on two months full time and I’m not turning into a toadstool or a pumpkin. Must be the water.
I had lunch with someone I worked with a couple of years ago and kept her laughing for about five or ten minutes. Then I just listened and kept her talking.
I’m smiling a good part of each day and laughing out loud at the tv. When my job isn’t driving me crazy because third party developers don’t want to be bothered documenting their libraries I still like my job.
I saw the therapist and the psych on Monday before golf. The psych is changing locations in a couple of months, I’ll probably follow her. She says I’m rock solid – not words I ever expected to hear two years ago. The therapist is helping me work through all the little stuff. Golf? Well boy do I have a lot of rust after taking the winter off.
We’re on this one way trip, and if we’re blessed we enjoy the scenery and the company. I’m thankful to God for all the many blessings in my life. I’m especially grateful to this woman I married going on 28 years ago for still being with me. Still hugging, kissing and laughing after all these many years. I’m thankful we can forgive each other for not being perfect.
I’m even thankful for the lovely intelligent child who isn’t talking so much to me, because I know we still love each other.
I’m especially thankful my wife gives me a once over in the morning so I don’t miss anything stupid like wearing a blazer with 3/4 sleeves with a long sleeved blouse (this morning!).
So here’s to falling into the world of skirts and hose and dresses and blouses and earrings and necklaces and perfume and makeup. Here’s to sharing knowing looks with the other ladies when some guy is being a jerk. Here’s to sitting here wrapped in a nice warm cardigan against the New England raw wet raining Wednesday night.
And God knows why, but I love being a cheerful extrovert a whole lot more than a depressed introvert. Must be psychological
So for those who are waiting at the precipice thinking there’s just an abyss, there’s life after making these decisions too. If you don’t need to transition don’t. But if you do need it, you *can* do this. I’m not done yet, heck I’m barely started by some measures on this forum, but despite all the self doubt it feels really wonderful. And I don’t think that’s just 300mg of Wellbutrin talking
A little later in May at an annual Cinco de Mayo party a friend throws:
Most of the folks handled the surprise pretty well. I wasn’t able to tell by expressions or body language that they were uncomfortable, which is good by me since it means that they at least think they’ll get by it. But I really did feel bad for one old acquaintance who just didn’t know what to say and looked terribly uncomfortable. I did take him aside and gave a 2 minute explanation. He didn’t manage to say much, but tried to say something acceptable. I sort of wished I could wipe those five minutes from his memory and just avoid him.
There’s a story here that I really wish someone had taught me. Leave bad enough alone. If someone looks uncomfortable, taking them aside is probably the worst thing you can do. You’re forcing your presence on them, they doubtless feel cornered and traumatized.
Repeat after me: “I am not responsible for how others feel because I exist” and keep saying that. If you perform an action like saying something hurtful or assaulting someone, then there’s an onus on you to apologize and make amends. Nobody should have to apologize for being a living breathing person. Not you and not me.
Dealing with mixed groups of people with various levels of knowledge and acceptance is sort of stressful. My spouse and I went to a neighbor’s party for their daughter’s college graduation. She and her brother are great kids and it was really nice being able to say hi to both of them. Their mom warned them ahead of time, so everything was great.
l think what sours it for me are things like her husband – wonderful guy that he is – just not having the new name in mind at all. I don’t feel like I can correct him without embarrassing him (this is not malicious on his part) but it’s a little tough from my end. The other person is much more challenging for me because he just won’t ever change. He grew up in Lebanon and is a good person but can’t even remotely wrap his mind around this. So he just calls me my old name and that’s it. I’d rather they both just said hey you.
Sometimes moving on from your long term relationship, although very painful itself, does bring relief from other problems. The neighbor’s husband, who most certainly never would have “gotten” it? Not in my life anymore. It’s actually ironic, his brother? No problem. The other guy really is sweet as pie, but it would take him a long time to get it straight I suspect.
In fact, in that neighborhood, of the four houses we were neighbors to and talked with, three had men who were not comfortable. Just tuck that away.
Eight months today – what an amazing thing. Eight months and my world has not collapsed but rather seems to just be morphing a little bit with a couple of notable exceptions.
Last night at a local club for CD and TS. I dropped off the breast forms I had and a couple of old but not worn out bras that I don’t particularly want but might help someone out (or get dropped in the trash). This was their open house night. There was a small contingent of the members and three of us non-members. I think I was the only one of those that had visited before but not entirely sure.
I tried to do more listening than talking, and definitely gave no advice. The one girl was very despondent over her wife’s attitude and brushed against suicide. I did tell her than things get better… she’s thinking that she needs to transition and her wife will never accept it. So much in love. We did all say you have to decide what’s more important to you. All too familiar, sigh.
As time goes on post transition, the focus starts changing. The club I was visiting never did become much of a haven for me, but is for many. It’s good it’s there and places like it elsewhere around the country and doubtless around the world.
Finishing this post, a part of a post about my work golf league.
Our foursome had two teams, and unlike most of the league there was a woman in each team. The two of us had fun chatting through the round. She’s a good egg, and in fact was one of the folks who interviewed me years ago. After the round we all had a bite at the bar, and we outlasted the guys.
All I’ll say is that sports bras and boob sweat isn’t really pleasant. The weather wasn’t even very warm and I still ended up awfully sweaty. I’m thinking a tank top and a skort would be nice for next time.
I’ve now heard from my therapist, the voice teacher and my golf friend du jour that I really don’t need my face touched up. Even though I’ve suspected that for a long time it’s difficult to be entirely confident. Heck she didn’t even think I needed to do any more with my voice.
Actually yesterday had a funny incident. I went to the range to practice for today. On my way to get balls to hit I picked up a few baskets and gave them to the girl working at the counter. She was genuinely appreciative and paid me a complement on my nails (a really fun shade of pink/fuschia, really Summery). What a sweet kid!