Over the past six months I have been, potentially, the poster child for the transsexual community here in my little hometown. Every gal should be a little girl first and get any awkwardness over when they are small and cute. I did mine in front of a crowd and, yes, people noticed, and wondered, and thought I was brave, and probably thought I was some other things too that I would rather not imagine. Eventually, after an initial surprise and adjustment, I'm finally just one more woman in the line at the grocery store. "How will you be paying for that today, ma'am?"
How has it been going lately? Really well, and better all the time. The truth is, folks have stopped making a big deal about me, and that might mean a few different things. I figure it is mostly because one more woman and one less man in town is yesterday's news for people who don't know me well enough to call me by name. For those who do know me by name, they are interacting with me regularly as who I am and we are getting on just fine. It is not an issue anymore; old news.
Reading Nadine's post Public Relations, I couldn't agree more with her that the way forward for the transgender community is for us to get out of the closet and let people see that not conforming to the expectations that have been laid on us arbitrarily and incorrectly does not make us monsters.
Being me and not a poster child doesn't mean that I cannot speak out for the community, but I will admit that as time passes, I find myself less inclined to 'out myself' intentionally. That is, I am very happy to simply be me and not tell those around me my history. Being stealth isn't a dirty word. It means getting on with my life as it should have been, and that is my ultimate goal.
When around people who do know my history, I will not act offended when they ask questions that are respectful. If, on occasion, being open and truthful will help a person or a group of people to grow and learn what being trans really means, I won't pretend or hide. When, as has been the case, others use knowledge of my situation as a way for them to come out about some part of their lives, I feel empowered.
At the same time, I won't go around waving a flag all the time proclaiming something I hope is obvious; I'm a woman. Full stop. Maybe that helps the cause in some way, too.
Transition in a small town means that there is little chance to hide. I quickly lost track of who I was telling so gave up and let people work it out. Sky did not fall and life goes on, small children with hypersensitive radar sometimes give a long look but nothing that a cheery smile cannot counter. I hope that many locals noticed me change and learned from it...ReplyDelete
A genuine smile can be your very best way to indicate to another they have nothing to fear from you.Delete
I love positive posts! Nice, Halle!ReplyDelete
I don't think you can ever have complete stealth, any more than a spy can ever feel totally relaxed and confident about their cover. So it's best to ride any storm and become, as you put it, yesterday's news.ReplyDelete
I agree that respectful enquiries, put sensitively, deserve a serious response. But as time passes it becomes less and less likely that anyone will feel inclined to ask, and certainly not if they have become used to you, and like you, as I'm sure many do!
Sounds like a wise approach, hon. :c) I think most people take their lead from us; if we're comfortable with ourselves, they're more likely to be comfortable with us as well. And when someone isn't polite, killing them with kindness seems to work more often than not. And if that fails, well, then it's time to unleash our inner bitch! :DReplyDelete
Thank you for the post, girl!
Yes, there are still disapproving looks that come my way; after all there is always someone who hasn't taken notice of me yet, and thinks I should care what they think. Thankfully these encounters never approach storm level.ReplyDelete
As you suggest Lucy, I ride these out, knowing in the long run this look of disapproval isn't really for me, it's for them.
As you say Cassidy, my outward response to the too-long, impolite stare, especially from young people, is to kill them with kindness (I love that image) by smiling broadly (pun intended) at them.
Besides having a disarming effect, I just look better when smiling so it is a good reminder let my face relax into a pleasant expression.
This may not be the time or place to tell you about this, Halle, but it's something I witnessed over the course of nearly a decade (late 90s through mid-00s) working in the urology department of a large teaching hospital. Several times a year our pediatric specialist was called to consult about newborns who'd made their appearance in the world as gender neutral. Parents would usually register these infants as Baby Doe's rather than give them names. Numerous tests would be run, particularly endocrine studies, to determine what sex was most appropriate for the child and then surgical adjustments were made as seemed best per the doctors and the new parents. I often wondered if it wouldn't have been best for these children to wait until they were old enough to decide for themselves and I've wondered too just how many people grew to adulthood without ever knowing what had been decided and acted upon in their earliest days.ReplyDelete
One of my favorite characters in Little Big Man was Little Horse, the Two Spirit. I'm sure you know all about them.
Many congratulations for your graciousness now and always.
Hello Susan. There is no bad time to discuss how society views the sex of an individual over the years. I haven't yet read Little Big Man, but it is now on a rather long list of books; I hope to live long enough to run out, but suspect I shall simply start over should that happen.Delete
A book you might enjoy on this topic is Annabel by Kathleen Winter, about Wayne, a child born intersex in 1968 in Labrador. In Winter's words, the decision there was a matter of millimeters.
Thank you so much for stopping by to comment and for your kind words.