It’s been a while since I’ve posted a decent entry here, but only because of my work schedule and some other commitments in the past few weeks.
Last week was a very big deal. I’ve attended a tradeshow as an exhibitor at a show where I know people fairly well, but we only meet face to face once a year. I’ve been attending this show for 3 years now so naturally I was full of anxiety because I talk to the attendees regularly, but the last time we’ve met was exactly a year ago and I looked completely different back then. Without getting too deep into what I actually do, it’s suffice to say that my clientele is 99% male and mostly the macho type of built-up testosterone driven tough guys and technology geeks….
At last year’s show I happened to sport hi-lights and I took a lot a lot of fire for that, namely from a very important person I will just call J. He is a very intelligent person with side I didn’t meet until a few days before my show last week. When I ran into him last year, the first thing he said upon greeting me was “Nice hair. WTF? Next you gonna show up wearing capris??” It was meant in a friendly way but my initial thought of “you just wait….. You haven’t seen anything yet” was replaced with fear about actually meeting these guys face to face during transitioning. Naturally I was really terrified. I decided long before the show that I will attend in boy mode and live with the “shame” of male fail, rather than going in female mode and have my voice fail. My voice seems to work pretty well now after a months of training, but it’s very fragile and it goes away when I get scared or I sneeze or cough:)….. That was really the main reason. I’d rather be in boy mode and look weird then go in girl mode and talk to someone with my guy voice. That is a terrifying thought… Anyway I thought it was really best to come out to some close people I was going to meet to reduce the shock factor. I was really worried about J but was also aware of the fact that he is a very smart, reasonable and a down to earth person. We had a 20 minute chat the week before the show to talk about some product and software ideas, but before the call, I had sent him a text message asking him for a call and I mentioned to him that I wanted to talk about work stuff and discrimination in his field of work. Once we finished talking about the first part, the conversation shifted to discrimination and LGBT issues. He was very open and spoke really well about the issues, then proceeded to ask me “Why do you wanna know anyway”? I felt a bit scared but I knew this is it, so instead of the usual working around the subject and trying to lead him onto it, I told him straight as it is. I am trans and I’m transitioning.
His reposes was a casual “OK” followed by 5 seconds of uncomfortable silence then we had a very positive chat about my story and the issues surrounding it and how it relates to my work.
In the next few days, I came out to about 6 more people and some of them told about me to their associates and all I really got was positive feedback and nothing else. I did not feel threatened or that I would be treated differently at all. To my surprise, after exchanging a few texts with J, I was voicing my concern about making some people feel potentially uncomfortable, he sent me this response.
“I am sure no one will be sick, but I am sure there will be some shock factor. .it’s just one of those things that the majority of people have trouble understanding. I think that gender is one of the basic things things people learn from a very early age . We like to put things in boxes so that we know the next time we see something similar we can relate it to something we already learned. When someone like yourself travels down a path like this, I think people are most resistant to editing something that has been a fundamental mental box since before they could speak in sentences. Probably also as gender is a mental construct people might question the validity of their own. (Ie how can he or she be so sure ) People don’t like to question what they think they know.”
To say that I was shocked, is a major an understatement. This is the guy that called me frosty over my hair and made some funny comments and asked if I was going to wear capris next year. It just goes to show you that people sport a sometimes deceptive facade and you shouldn’t always expect the worst.
On the day of setup once I check into my hotel, it was getting late after I had dropped my stuff off and of course needless to say, I had run into a group of people I know fairly well in the lobby. We made eye contact and nobody recognized me and I was really terrified so I didn’t say anything or tried to stop them for a quick chat. I knew that HRT has been pretty good to me but the fact that they didn’t recognize me was a god boost.
Next morning when the show actually started I was of course really nervous for a change but some people I came out to really went out of their way to come up to me and offer support and compliment on my looks, which was awkward because I was presenting in male mode which I am told is not at all convincing anymore 🙂
I also ran into a person I know fairly well and came out to him on the phone before hand which turned out to be a pretty good experience. I will call him B to protect the identity of the innocent 🙂
I was getting into the elevator coming back downstairs from the hotel with more of my gear and there he was. I said Hey B, he looked at me, said hi and that was it. So I turned up the volume a bit and repeated…. He looked at me causally again and said Hi. Then after 3 seconds of starring, the holly #$~@ Z OMG I did not recognize you. (My male name starts with a Z) He kept on venting for a few seconds before we had to split up but that again was a really nice experience.
This is my boy mode now days 🙂
My business partner and I also did some walking around and we encountered one of our other associates who knew nothing about me. I knew she would be cool because based on my time with her at 4 other shows, I learned that she is an awesome and very open person.
We went over to say hi and we had a very casual chat and she didn’t try to introduce herself to me like some others so I was pretty disappointed. I thought OMG, she didn’t notice anything. Then my business partner smiled and said, I bet she didn’t recognize you either. So she sent her a text to ask her what she thought of my hair. She just responded, Oh Z is here? She said yes you just talked to him. She was shocked as well because she completely failed to recognize me :). I was really happy to say the least.
The show went really well, over the two days the tension had really dissipated and people were very welcoming with some complementing on my looks and were surprised how girly my boy mode looked.
After the show I received a shower of text messages with people offering me support which really touched me. I exchanged a few messages with some people. I asked if anyone had any negative feedback and there was none luckily but to my surprise I also got this.
“Haha. There may have been someone who said something to the effect…:
If he was in a dress and in a bar I’d probably bang him. Lol.”
Most would find this offensive but I am flattered.
Another response I got from someone else was
“No issues my friend. It was good to see you. Just to clarify, are you still going with Z*****? Or do you prefer to be addressed in another manner?”
I told him I’m still going with my old name until I go full time which is probably another 6-8 months away and I’m really not one of those politically correct gender nazis 🙂
There were some awkward moments because some people will take time to get used to the idea of someone transitioning from male to female or vice versa. I had some people at my table talking to me about our stuff and I could tell they did their best not to refer to me as either male or female, then someone else I know really well shows up and goes “HEY MAN!” That was a bit awkward but I get it….
So the shows was an overwhelming success, both product wise and socially.
On other news, my close friend, mentor and business partner came out to our other business partners which I was worried about because they are 69 and 71 years old and VERY old fashioned and seemingly conservative with typical old eastern european mentality of everything is very binary, almost racist and naturally very homophobic and politically very incorrect.
He basically just dropped the T bomb on them. I was not there because I didn’t have the stomach to tell them myself but I hear they first just gasped for air then had some questions. E (The wife) was very accepting right away and made some comments that really touched me but the old hubby on the other hand was shocked and bit and claimed that he had never hear of anything before. It’s hard to believe that someone in the 21st century with TV and internet access would have not heard of a transgender person before but they really seem to be living in their own little world so I suppose it’s possible…..
The tone with my older brother has also changed, he was the only source of negativity I have encountered so far but things are a little better. He is an interesting character because I consider him very smart, very open when it’s about other people but he’s got a hard time handling my coming out and transitioning. To him it’s a bit of a laughing matter because upon coming out to him, his response was “You gonna be really ugly”. He can only imagine a trans woman as man in a dress and nothing more. He seems to have changed his tone after having seen pictures of me and now knows that I can pull it off pretty well so he is coming around which I actually find very offensive because it implies that it’s only OK to be trans if you are pretty. If you aren’t, I guess you shouldn’t do it???? I’m not very mad at him though because based on our previous chats and I very firmly believe he is very strongly repressing something about himself. I really believe that most outspoken homophobic and transphobic people act the way they do to steer the attention away from them because thy have something to hide that they don’t want found out.
I also went shopping and some social events last weekend as my real self which is becoming really hard. Not being me, but going back to my old self. It really is excruciating and I can hardly wait to go full time and give all my dude clothes away.
I’m slowly realizing that I don’t think I want to be uberfem…. I think I feel pretty good in a casual outfit but we’ll see how things change in the next year or so.
Please excuse the weird pictures, I just wanted to crop my friend out because I didn’t have the chance to ask her whether it’s OK for me to publish them with her in it.