Hello my darling readers, I hope you have been well. Today marks the end of my first week working as Emma instead of Robert. There were a lot of ups and downs, a lot of amazing moments and dreadful ones. There was a lot of love and probably even some hate or judgment; but through the thick and thin, I have survived my grand entrance into the world of full time living.
As I sit here and write this, I feel different than I did just 5 days ago. I feel not only more confident, but I feel more at home in my skin. Every time I look in the mirror I see Emma now instead of Robert. Every time I get dressed it’s as Emma instead of Robert. Every morning I get to wake up and be this new identity. One of my coworkers referred to this Monday as a sort of birthday for me and I think I like that idea. Monday, June 8th was Emma’s true birth into the world. She existed, in part, before that day, of course, but never fully. There always had to be alternation between when she got to show herself and when Robert had to carry the cross of his existence another day, but no more. I am Emma now, completely Emma.
I can’t lie and say that being able to assume this identity fully hasn’t been bitter sweet. June 8th might be a birthday, one worthy of celebrating year after year, but it was also the day my old self died. Although I choose to think of this end of Robert as a sort of death, in actuality it was a convergence. You see, for our entire life we were split in two. I know I’ve discussed this before but I feel compelled to revisit the idea as it has been on my mind a lot lately. Robert and I are, in many ways, two sibling, yet separate, spirits inhabiting the same body; one inhabiting the male energy and the other the female energy. When “I” think of “myself” I can only really do that comfortably by thinking of “me” as a “we” and an “us.” In actuality, it might be easiest to say that we are Emma, instead of I am Emma. There are two of us in here, and always have been. Robert’s death, as I said, was really his convergence with me. We, after years and years of being torn apart by socializations, gender expectations, and shame, have been reunited.
Most people will struggle to understand that idea and I will continue to struggle to try to explain it, but suffice it to say that when Robert was the captain of this body and life, he was never truly alone. True, I, the “female” energy, was never permitted to walk about in our body or really interact with others, with the rare exception of getting to present and dress the way I wanted in secret or to confide some of myself to very close friends, but I was always present. I was the Yin to Robert’s Yang, but because of a great number of social factors, we were never allowed to cohabitate our body once the age of “puberty” came. In order to survive the trials of growing up in this extremely gendered society, it became necessary for Robert to take over our life just as I was forced to hide in the dark, locked away and left alone.
Monday marked the day that our split, this divide we have suffered through for over 20 years, was erased. The best image I can conjure for others to understand is that Robert’s Yang, finally bonded again with my Yin, and He and I became the “We” we were meant to be. We became whole, and so the name Emma (which means whole and universal) takes on a deeper meaning than just an arbitrarily picked name. We are complete, in as much as any mortal being can be complete. The hole that has been inside of Robert’s heart has finally been filled and together we are able to walk forward as a bonded being. True, that bonded being is this fabulous “woman” you’ve come to adore ;) but in all actuality we are much more than just female or male. We are both, a comingling of the two and beyond. We have transcended the binary assumptions about identity and have created our own. There is no word that can adequately describe who we are or what we are capable of, but we choose one for the sake of simplicity in dealing with our fellow humans who may or may not attempt to comprehend us. We are a transwoman. But we have gotten off the point a bit; we are supposed to be updating you on how our working life is going. Again, for the sake of simplicity, we will begin to refer to ourselves again as an I instead of a we.
Overall this week at work has gone from being extremely stressful to being more routine. Monday was deeply stressful and filled with loads of anxiety, but today (Friday) holds almost no anxiety at all. My coworkers, in large part, have adjusted to my new appearance and name. Only one person so far has accidently called me Robert and it was in an email, which was almost immediately followed up by another email apologizing and calling me Emma instead. One of the clients I work with very closely even had some very nice and kind words to share with me (I’ll explain in a moment). Unfortunately I missed the opportunity to hear those in person when they were in our office, but the attorney that represents them passed along the message.
Although I wasn’t asked to do it, I felt compelled on Tuesday to email the client I work the most with to sort of explain myself to them. Because I email them nearly every day and I’ve actually met them in person (and have seen them multiple times) I felt that it would be good to at the very least let them know that this new Emma T. was the same person they were already accustomed to working with. So, as a professional curtesy, I wrote an email that basically said that since I worked with them so closely, I wanted them to know that I was going to start doing business as Emma T. instead of Robert and that there were a lot of reasons for that (which they could ask about if they wanted to know more). I told them that I was the same person they already knew, and that if they were worried that I wasn’t that the attorneys that oversee my work could verify my identity. I also mentioned that I would need help to changing my credentials in their docket system to Emma instead of Robert.
I did not get a response back via email, but the next day the aforementioned client was in the office meeting with one of the attorneys I work under. We actually saw each other when he walked out of the conference room while I was on my way to the bathroom, but I don’t believe he recognized me. I won’t lie and say that I wasn’t horribly anxious about the reaction this person might have. We have had several conversations about a lot of things and he even showed interest in my two published novels, but he is a rather masculine kind of guy. He coaches hockey, loves to camp and hunt, and seems very outdoorsy and almost a bit rugged for someone who works in an office most of the time. Given my knowledge of his personality and our previous interactions while I was Robert (we had a couple beers together for goodness sake), I was really worried that his attitude towards me would change for the worse. You can imagine my surprise when I was told that he’d tried to stop by my desk to talk to me and that he had wanted to give me words of encouragement and tell me that they understood and accepted me as Emma.
Not in my wildest dreams did I imagine that my transition at work would go so smoothly. I’ve even now had two separate encounters with the women I work with in the women’s bathroom and neither one of them went badly. The first one was honestly a bit of a surprise for the other woman, but she didn’t seem to care after the initial “Oh!” confusion. The second one was this morning and the person who saw me (someone who hasn’t really talked with me much since I announced my transition) very cheerily said good morning to me like it was no big deal that she was finding me in the ladies room. I wish you could see the smile on my face. So much of my anxiety about work has centered around using the women’s restroom and so far, I have either been permitted to use it alone/anonymously, or I’ve been treated with kindness. I haven’t encountered every coworker yet, so it’s difficult to say that it will never become an issue, but after 5 days, I am issue free in the bathroom!
Outside of the bathroom my coworkers have also warmed up to me quite a bit. With the exception of scowling-religious-lady and one of the more moody women I work with, everyone who initially seemed distant or reluctant to interact with me have completely changed for the better. One of the other paralegals I work with who I mentioned on Monday has done a 180. Instead of avoiding me and not talking to me, she has returned to her typically friendly demeanor. In fact, she and another person I was worried about, had a pretty decent conversation with me this morning about clothing and trying to find clothes that fit correctly. Evidently they had been worried that I would show up on casual Friday dressed in the typically fancy clothing I’ve been wearing all week and they would be tragically underdressed compared to me. Upon seeing me in a more casual outfit, they both seemed relieved and even complimented the way it looked, asking me where I got it. I don’t know how genuine their interest was (I’m envisioning the bracelet thing from Mean Girls where they are like “OMG that’s so cute” when they really hate it), but the fact that they are talking to me again means a lot to me, not to mention the fact that they feel comfortable enough to discuss women’s fashion as if was just one of the girls.
Outside of work has also gotten a lot better. I still absolutely get funny looks from people, but as my therapist consoled me, that is just part of the beginning stages of transition and will eventually either fade as the HRT has greater effect, or I won’t notice it anymore. Obviously the HRT hasn’t changed me much since Monday of this week, but my reaction to the lingering stares and confused glances has changed. I’m starting to not care as much and even find myself just chuckling about the people who are particularly egregious in their gawking. I suspect part of this is just a sort of numbing to the pain of sticking out so badly, but I think part of it is a boost in confidence I’m getting from other experienced.
For example, last night two of my coworkers (a good friend and the new girl) and I went out to a happy hour to celebrate a myriad of things (New girl starting work as well as her recent birthday, and my emergence as Emma). Upon sitting down at the table I was properly gendered by the wait staff several times.
The guy who fills the water glasses and takes away the unneeded dishes, came up to the table right away and said “good evening, ladies!”
Our waitress, who was pretty dreadful either because she was too busy or just DGAF, followed a few minutes later and asked “What can I get you ladies?”
The chef who came out to deliver our first round of sushi and appetizers announced, “Here is the food for our lovely ladies!”
And one of the other waitresses who came to deliver our second round of drinks (because our server was completely MIA at this point) said, “here is your lemon drop, Ma’am,” as she handed me my martini.
It’s truly unexplainable how amazing it is for people to just assume that I’m female and to gender me appropriately. Add to this the fact that the whole evening neither of my dining companions mis-gendered me by calling me he/him/Robert. There were even a few times where I found it confusing to hear one of them refer to “she” and it took a moment for me to remember that they were talking about me! I get to be a she now! It just makes me so damned happy that it’s almost absurd that something so simple could have such a huge effect.
The thing I want to stress the most in this post is that transitioning to full time is scary and can even be really trying at times, but it is so worth it. I am so much happier as Emma than I was as Robert. I am so much more at home in my body and life as a “woman” instead of as a “man.” There are moments when I’m walking along and I realize or remember that I’m getting to be Emma right then instead of Robert, and it just makes me smile. I get a little skip in my step and hold my head high. This must be what true confidence feels like. I have to say, it’s rather refreshing.
Well, that’s all I have for today. I know I haven’t posted pictures in like forever, but I have some saved up that I’ll try to get up this weekend, assuming my wife doesn’t work me to death with her hopes of doing all the lawn work and painting the rest of the house. If I don’t check in again before Monday, I hope you will keep me in your thoughts Monday afternoon while I’m at my interview for grad school. I know that I’m going to kick ass, but any positive thoughts on my behalf couldn’t hurt either. =)
Mucho amor por todos ustedes! Hasta luego!