Monday, May 25, 2015

5-25-2015 Picture Entry: Being Outed at Work and Being Correctly Gendered in Public

Hello my lovelies, I hope my U.S. readers are enjoying their holiday weekend. I know that I've enjoyed my four day weekend, although I’m sad to see it is already 7pm on the last day I have off. Tomorrow I must return to the realm of toil, which means I must also shed my Emma clothes, hair, makeup, and nail polish to live as Robert once again. Thankfully those days are numbered, and after the shopping trip I had yesterday, they are fewer than previously thought. I now have enough of a wardrobe that I could feasibly go to work as Emma 5 days a week and never wear any of outfits more than once. I would still have to mix and match the tops and bottoms, so I would likely have to wear a few of the items at least twice in a given week, but that wouldn’t be so different than what is already happening with my current male-themed wardrobe; but I may getting ahead of myself as there are several things to discuss before we get to the shopping trip or the pictures I took the day before the shopping trip.

I should probably begin with the bad, or at the very least, the difficult to experience. On Thursday, the final day of my workweek as I took Friday off, I got to experience being outed by someone I thought I could trust to a handful of people (a still undetermined number) that I had no intention of telling until everyone knew. I think the most hurtful thing about this experience was that the person who has been outing me to others was literally the only person I had actually asked to not say anything until I came out to the whole firm. Perhaps then I knew she wasn’t to be trusted, but the damage has already been done, if it is, in fact, damage. I’ll try to spare the grueling he said/she said details because they are enough to confuse anyone I work with, let alone you lovely readers. Suffice it to say that the woman who is most notorious at my firm for gossiping said something to one of my friends (who already knew) about me being trans. This ultimately led to the discovery of how she’d found out along with the discovery that she wasn’t the only one who’d found out.

So, when I discovered this unfortunate news, you can probably imagine my anger, disappointment, and fear. I had strived to great length to keep my transition from becoming a subject of rumors, whispers, and gossip, so to watch all of that evaporate the same week I was painstakingly coming out one on one to the attorneys I work with was extremely disheartening; never mind the fact that I was only a couple weeks away from officially coming out to everyone.

Given all of these factors I decided to go straight to HR with the issue. I wanted nothing more than to confront the perpetrator of this broken trust and these possibly damaging rumors, but I knew I had to handle things appropriately. I wasn’t about to allow someone who’d already broken my confidence to also steal my patience or moral high ground. I had done nothing wrong, and if anything, I’d painstakingly made sure I did everything right or as right as one can in a smaller law firm that has never had a trans employee before.

When I went into HR’s office, I was livid and fuming. I was nearly ready to tear this rumor-monger limb from limb in a verbal onslaught she’d never recover from, but after discussing the subject with my HR lady, I soon came to my senses and calmed down. As the cards were, I had no formal recourse for this person’s actions basically because I’d been the one to tell her about my trans identity in the first place and it isn’t a violation of workplace policy to reveal information willingly given. I could, of course, confront her directly, but what advantages would that really offer? It certainly would not undo what she’d already done, and it certainly wouldn’t be a merit towards my credibility if I flew off the handle about it. Approaching her would likely just feed into whatever thrill she got from divulging my entrusted information. If it was her way of retaliating because of some of the issues we’ve had at work, then me verbally berating her would only escalate the conflict.

In the end, everyone was going to know anyway, and they were all going to know within a few weeks at that. Was it really worth getting upset about them finding out earlier by less reliable channels? Ultimately, no. That doesn’t mean I will forget or even really forgive this person for what they did, but karma always comes back to haunt a person and you better believe I’ll never entrust her with anything ever again. Maybe that’s petty of me but if she thinks it is okay to tell people my big news against my wishes and without my knowledge, then she has proven unworthy of my friendship, my trust, or my time. All I can really do is stand tall and be proud of who I am. I’m not afraid to be me and I’m not afraid of what her gossip group thinks of me. They can hate if they want to, that’s their karma. I’m going to stay fabulous and they will just have to deal with it.

What I did end up doing, however, was to go to the third party who’d said something to my friend (see, I told you it was confusing) and talk to her directly. I told her that I didn’t know who’d told her (even though I did) and said I didn’t care (again, even though I did), but that the only thing I’d ask was that she keep it to herself for the time being. I let her know that there was a plan for me to officially come out within a few weeks and that there would be a firm wide announcement, either by HR or myself. She actually seemed to legitimately agree to my request and admitted that she felt more comfortable just having heard it directly from me that I was, in fact, transgender. I think it probably helped quite a bit that she’d just recently completed a CLE (continuing legal education) course on employment law where they specifically discussed transgender rights and forms of discrimination against them. After I spoke with her, I felt quite a bit better, although I am still not completely over the trauma of being so unexpectedly outed.

My only warning to any trans individuals reading this is if you are going to make an on the job transition like I’m about to do that you be extra careful about who you tell and ideally, don’t tell them too far in advance. If I would have waited to tell this person until I was closer to the actual transition, I probably wouldn’t have had this problem at all. Just tread carefully if you wish to avoid this experience, and I won’t lie, it really sucked. It won’t kill you, like it didn’t kill me, but it might bring you to your knees for a few minutes and will require a great deal of patience and a calculated response to come out of it mostly unscathed.

Moving on to brighter subjects I had an awesome experience the very next day. My wife and I decided to go grocery shopping after she got home from work and I decided that I wanted to take another trip out into the world as Emma. Since I didn’t really feel like dressing up too much I decided I would go to the store dressed in my more typical weekend ware (black nylon athletic shorts and a t-shirt). The pictures you’ll see below document that outfit, and yes, that is an awesome TMNT t-shirt with matching purple and green eye-shadow. What you won’t see in the picture, because I’m a lady, is the gaff I constructed to help prevent any prominent displaying of the man-bits that my nylon shorts are prone to doing.

**(For those who are interested, I simply took the tube part of a tube sock, cut it from the foot of the sock and ran one of those large black stretchy headbands through the inside of it to fashion something similar to a jock strap. It’s not super comfortable as it crams everything together real tight, but it was cheap, easy, and did a rather convincing job of making it look like I had lady-bits downstairs).

Overall I would say the outfit was a success because people seemed to notice me quite a bit less than they had during my previous Costco trip. Whether that was because I wasn’t wearing heels that gave me another 2-3 inches or because I wasn’t wearing a more formal dress, I’m not sure. Regardless of the reason, more people seemed to just accept me as an irregularly tall female (I say this because there were fewer prolonged stares or “wtf?” looks). This hunch, I believe, was validated later on, but more on that in a moment. We went about our shopping with relative ease and I found most everyone rather nice or friendly towards me. We, of course, pigged out on the free samples and naturally bought a couple things that we tried that we might not have otherwise.

Once we finished spending entirely too much money there (per usual) we decided that we wanted to order pizza for dinner (isn’t that how it always go? Spend a bunch of money on groceries, and then order a pizza?). We have a local mom & pop pizza place a few blocks from our house that has an amazing veggie pizza (since we don’t eat meat) that we are horribly addicted to, so we decided to stop there to pick one up. Once we arrived there, we ordered the pizza and sat in the waiting area looking over a travel trip brochure we’d picked up at Costco. Envisioning some fabled trip to Hawaii or a cruise around the Caribbean, I noticed a woman sitting in the dining area to my right who kept giving me strange looks.

Whether she was staring because Sarah and I were sitting together in what she might have perceived as an openly lesbian relationship, or because she was reading/clocking me as trans, I cannot say for sure. All I know is that I found it a bit unnerving. Luckily however, my anxiety was about to completely disappear. Our pizza was finally ready after about 15 minutes of waiting and the large, almost gruff man who’d taken the order and cut the pizza handed my wife the pizza box and said, “Enjoy your pizza ladies!”

(let’s just take a moment to revel in that…)

Even just thinking about it now brings the biggest of smiles to my face. A complete stranger (well, maybe not complete, we’ve been in there before, but never while I was presenting as Emma) verbally gendered me correctly!! That has never once happened in my life. I have been sir’d, Mr.’d, buddied, duded and bro’d by strangers in every interaction before this one, but for the first time ever, I actually felt good about the gendering label. Needless to say, I was so over the moon with being properly gendered (and I’m about 98% sure he legitimately saw me as female, not as trans person he was being polite to) that I nearly tripped and killed myself on the entryway as I went to leave. Some poor elderly woman making her way into the store nearly had to catch me. So graceful, I know.

When we got out to the car both my wife and I reveled in the gender labeling. I was a lady, finally. After all these years, a man I don’t know and couldn’t even tell you his name, made my life and transition complete in a way I didn’t know anyone could. 5 years ago when I first started wondering if I was transgender, I was so convinced that no one would ever see me as female, and yet, I was completely wrong. The full effects of the HRT and all the procedures I’m going to have in the future haven’t even happened, and I was able to pass as female to a countless number at Costco customers and to a pizza man. I just want to stress that. All of my politics about passing aside, it was amazingly easy for me to pass as female, and all I was wearing was some makeup, a wig, a gaff, and a purse. I wasn’t even wearing lady clothes.

As you might imagine, this experience had me singing and dancing with joy for most of the weekend. It was also a great help in bolstering my confidence when two days later (Sunday) my wife and I decided to go clothes shopping at old navy (judge me if you will, but they have cute clothes that are rather cheap, which makes building a wardrobe on a budget a lot easier). This time, however, I did dress up a bit so that I looked more the part of a typical female. I also got to sport my new flats which are darling, but are probably a half-size too small for my feet and definitely need to be broken in before I can comfortably walk in them for prolonged periods of time.

Shopping was rather fun and I found a handful of clothes which increased my wardrobe by about 4 or 5 outfits, although I’m fairly sure a few people very obviously read/clocked me as trans. One of the store clerks even went so far as to sort of follow me around as if I was possibly shop lifting and made a blatant point to come harass me to see if I “needed help finding anything.” I only allege her less that friendly intentions because of her general disapproving demeanor and accusatory tone. I suppose she could have just been having a bad day or dislikes her job, but compared to any of the other girls working in the store, she was definitely not as friendly or accepting. The dressing room girl was super friendly and nice to me. I suspect she read/clocked me but didn’t seem at all bothered by it.
Overall it was a huge boon to my confidence to have gone clothes shopping while presenting as female as it was one of my fears. Not sure why it was a fear, given the pleasant experience yesterday, but it was. I’m just happy to be able to check it off of the list of “fears to overcome.”

Since this post is so long already, I’ll hold off on the HRT effects for a later day. Not much has changed although the breasts are still growing little by little. I think I’ll be fortunate in that department unlike so many transwomen but only time can tell for sure. Well, without further ado, here is my rocking ninja turtles slacker outfit that was paradoxically passable (sorry that some of them are blurry):

Thanks again for stopping in. There is much love here for all of you. **MUAH**

No comments:

Post a Comment