Thursday, February 23, 2017

No Gnews Is Good Gnews

I never liked reading comments on news website posts. Even if the news post had nothing to do with my situation or anyone I knew. However, in the last several years the media has made transgender issues a normal part of the news cycle. This is good, and this is bad. It’s great that real information, about us and who we are and what we are not, gets out there. That they are able to help explain one simple concept, “Treat us like people, because we are indeed people“. But I don’t like reading the comments that inevitably happen. I am always expecting the positive comments, because why would I expect someone would have trouble with another person wanting to be treated like everyone else? Of course, the comments are instead full of completely unwarranted hate and ignorance. I see “Christians“ who claim that their lord and savior hates homosexuals (they seem to think that Transgender are automatically gay), when in fact Jesus never ever, not once said anything about being gay or transgender. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think all Christians believe this, I don’t think they all live in hate. Christians can be kind and loving like any person can. These are people wearing Christianity like a cloak, as if it is a right to condem others, to burn them at the stake.It’s not just Christians, they are not alone in fostering hate and intolerance. Alt-right, rabid consrevatives or newly-minted Trump Republicans or just hate-filled people focus on us because we are largely easy targets for thier hate.

 

These people, slander and malign us, they call us names and expound such seething hatred in thier speech I am often taken aback. No, no that isn’t strong enough, I am legitimately frightened. I am frightened more because these are everyday people. I and others must walk among these people to go about our everyday lives. We must work beside these people, pray next to them, eat and go to the movies around these people. It’s a mine field, invisible until it’s too late, constant and unforgiving once they embrace what they are going to do in the emotion of hate. They don’t care about our words or if we are nice or giving or loved by others. 

 

I did several tours in the middle east and I felt the same way there in actual combat. Those tours had a start and stop time, there was a time when it was at least over for me, I went home. But now, I live with a real fear all the time, that someone will just decide to act on the hate they have been holding. I don’t pass, I don’t think at least. But being in stealth doesn’t mean you aren’t known about. I shouldn’t have to pass, I should just be able to be me with no one caring since I don’t harm them in any fashion. But the world we live in, the political climate in the US, it’s a free-for-all in which any bigot feels they can ignore the laws that cover everyone but since it didn’t specifically state “Transgender“ then they are justified. Of course they count on bullying, on intimidation and our own fear to keep us quiet, to keep us the silent minority. What they don’t seem to understand is that fear is a motivator to make change happen.

 

Commentary on news sites is mostly anonymous or at least so easy to circumvent that identity doesn’t mean much. This is good since most of us have secret or alternate social network accounts, but it allows for the bad as well, cowards who spout nonesense about the LGBT agenda like it is a conspiracy on the level of the Illuminati. Wanting to be treated like a human being is not an agenda, it’s a basic human right. The only agenda, is to work towards being treated correctly, instead of treated like we need to be fixed, corrected, or made socially invisible again.

 

It is easy to say that we can ignore the commentary, that we don’t have to read it. But the articles are about our situation or who we are, so very hard to ignore what is written directly below the article, and really we want to know that we are supported. Those types of comments, the supportive ones, are few and far between.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Opening the Door

I have spent the week, coming out to my close friends. I have to be careful, because a lot of my friends are also ex-coworkers. They know the same people (my work) I am trying to keep this secret from, for now. So it’s complicated and depends upon trust. I am trying to be brave. It’s a funny thing, I was less nervous being shot at, having IED’s to look out for, being at war, than I am telling my closest friends who I really am.

I have told two of them, my best friend, who is in all ways my brother. And a friend of mine that I worked with, who is the best role model for being a strong woman and still being feminine. I tell a third today, and I am nervous, but all indications say that it’s nothing to be nervous about.

J – My friend/brother, he was so great. I told him and he was not only excited for me but told me how I inspire him and make him proud. I cried that night, I cried because I was so lucky to have a brother like him and because I didn’t tell him earlier and because I felt really happy which isn’t my default setting. He has medical problems and I worry about him, so I was worried that I might cause an issue by telling him. (the medical issue can be exacerbated by stress). But he was so great and I miss him so much, he is in another state about 9 hours from me.

A – My strong sister. She didn’t blink, didn’t hesitate either. She fully supported me and when I sent her a pic of me (Beth) she told me I was beautiful and really encouraged me. I don’t really believe the beautiful part, but it was really nice to hear. She is so wonderful and I love her in this deep sisterly way that I can’t really define, since I met her really. She is younger, but she is wise and strong and I look to her as a role model, which I know is odd, but you don’t know A. She is a force like my Mom was. She is a force of nature that you can’t help but be in awe of. 

D – I will be telling him today. He is a great man, very easy going and easy to love. I hope that things go well. My fears manifest whether they are based in reality or not. He has a lot of things going on today, so I may have to wait until tomorrow, but I will try for today. [Edit: I did talk to D that day, he was very sweet and reassuring. I asked him to please act a bit surprised and outraged, he did so in a playful way. It was very cool the way we transitioned from my transitioning to politics. We were just talking like friends do and that did more to make me miss him than anything else.]

J&L – Not all of my friends live in other states or cities. J&L are friends who live in the local area, I am telling them today. I’m nervous as usual, but they are really good people so I think it will be ok. I hope it will. J is someone I worked with recently, so I am taking a very big chance, though he has always been discrete about information before. J&L are a couple of those rare people who despite having a rugged kind of lifestyle with old fashioned tastes like old cars and retro designs is also pretty damn progressive and liberal. [Update: Spoke to J and he was very supportive! I again, can’t stress how lucky I feel to have friends to understand and support who I am. J also got that I am introverted mostly because of my situation, of who I am. He understands also my issues with coming out in my company, as he knows the people I will have to deal with firsthand. ]

B&Am – I have to tell them. They are dear friends, but we have kind of lost touch in the last couple of years. They are, I am assuming, still fairly conservative and I know that Am, B’s wife, is very religious. It doesn’t mean they won’t be happy for me, it actually means very little in the way of tolerance and being friends. I just have a bit more worry because of those factors. I love them both, so I hope that they will be accepting and happy for me. I think they will.

So far, I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop. I have gotten very lucky in my confession of who I am to my family and friends. I won’t stop if the shoe does drop, I will have to live with the loss and move on. I cannot keep wearing the mask. I still have to tell my wife’s parents and siblings. I think that my wife is opposed to this because of how she believes it will reflect on her. She has a sister that she disagrees with and I think that she believes that this would somehow validate her sister’s attitude. I don’t judge my wife on this, I don’t like it, but I have asked a lot of her and she still wants to be with me and I know it’s not easy on her. But they need to know eventually, so I am kind of leaving this as her decision when I tell them. There will be a point where it will be impossible to hide it. Boobs and hair, makeup and womens clothes, dead giveaway for a woman being there.

Monday, February 6, 2017

The True Cost of Being Me

I am planning on continuing my “The Cost of Being” posts that go over the costs, small and large, that we incur as Transgender people. However, I wanted to express a few things, those feelings and thoughts that I have encountered when my mother passed away.

 

Don’t wait to be person that you are. I look back and cringe, thinking of the time I wasted wearing the mask. The longer you wear it, the more it becomes you and the harder to remove. Work, love, friends and family all become more and more, less inclined to forgive this. To them, you are messing with their memories of you. Those moments when you did that great thing together, or laughed until you cried. Who was there, you or the mask? They have to live with those thoughts. It is easy to say that they aren’t accepting or that they won’t get over it. I get that way as well, but that is because I am standing there in my ballet flats and not in their shoes. You owe it to yourself and to those you love and work with to be the person you are as soon as possible. The memories of you should be you and not the mask. I waited so long, now I will be remembered as the boy/man who did this thing or that thing, they have to find some way to reconcile that it was instead the girl/woman who pretended to be a boy/man. See how complicated that makes life?

 

I’m not saying it’s easy. I’m not saying that by doing this anyone but you will understand. I’m just saying you will be wasting precious time first wearing the mask and then trying to get your loved ones to come around to recognizing who is under it. Nothing worth doing is ever easy. 

 

Work is complicated for anyone. Being the mask in a career makes it very hard to become yourself. I’m still not sure how to do it; this is my actual sticking point. I don’t have all the answers, just a blog, and that makes me as unqualified as anyone to talk about the correct way to do things. I can tell you what I am doing now. I am scouting things out. I am asking our HR department (did this several weeks ago), if we have any policies on transgender and what would happen if someone were transgender. I already know that we have two bathrooms that are non-gender specific and those are not anywhere near the gender specific bathrooms. I know that our HR manager has no problem with transgender and doesn’t even think it should be a focus unless someone makes an issue of it. (Her exact words were, “I don’t think it’s anyone’s business in the first place.”) Though this scenario is of someone coming into the company, while I am a 15 year employee. I think they will notice if I come in with boobs and long hair and in a dress. And the upper management will immediately begin their either conscious or subconscious desire to remove me from my position. So, I have to be ready for that eventuality. It’s going to happen, but it’s going to be a process.

 

I don’t have to tell my Mother or my Father. I wish I had, back then, as a child. I had murmured it to my mother, but she took it as a young child’s wistful thinking. Like wishing your father had been Elvis Presley or that Brussel sprouts tasted like cotton candy. I was afraid of my father, but I think he would have eventually come around, later in life. I could have told my mother, I don’t think she would have fully understood. And she would probably keep using my deadname (I just learned that is what it is called btw) for a long time. But I would have had no problem with that, to have her here today. Eventually she would have been fully supportive, I know she would have. Damn you hindsight.  My brothers, well they should know, but have buried it in the mess of memories of a childhood. If they had grown up with me, the real me, then they would have been fine. But now, I will probably lose them both, I know I will lose at least one of them forever. I hope I am wrong, but it won’t stop me from coming out to them this year.

 

This blog isn’t an instructional. You need to take this, at least in part, as a cautionary tale. While I am aware that my life is pretty easy considering what others have gone through, are going through. I have not done things the right way; I have been cowardly and afraid. The comforts of a fairly good life don’t alleviate the suffocation of the mask I must wear to keep it. I implore you to waste as little time as you can, because there just isn’t much time for any of us. Don’t spend it being a lie to yourself.