Wednesday, June 17, 2015

6-17-2015 Entry: Unexpected Benefits and Drawbacks of Going Full Time; and Sense 8’s Transgender Character Nomi




Hello my darlings! Today we are going to discuss some unexpected changes, or benefits, to transitioning to full time. There are the obvious benefits, of course, of getting to wear the clothes I like, getting to put on makeup to make myself look/feel pretty, getting to wear my nail polish all day every day instead only between the hours of Friday at 5pm and Sunday at 9pm, and having people correctly gender me in public. Outside of those obvious benefits, however, I have discovered some new benefits that I can’t say I was fully prepared for.

So many women these days pronounce, “chivalry is dead!” with a sad or bitter tone, citing examples of all the jerks they’ve experienced. Well, my darlings, I’m here to tell you that chivalry is not completely dead, at least it hasn’t been for me. You see, I’ve been spending the last several months preparing for my transition to my life as Emma with a sense of dread and worry. I was afraid for so long that I would be harassed, mocked, and made fun of by the strangers I encountered during my day to day life. I was particularly afraid of the way men would treat me, envisioning laughter and mean spirited jokes or lewd comments about me being a “tranny” or really just a man in a dress. I was so worried that I wouldn’t be able to interact with members of the opposite sex (hehe, I love that I can say that), but it seems my worries were at least partially misplaced.

No, my darlings, I have, in fact, been the unexpected beneficiary of random acts of chivalry by the men I encounter. Although they are often simple acts, it’s been rather pleasant to be on the receiving end of these acts. I have two examples from the past few days, which are both simple enough, but they were totally strange for me to experience. The first of these experiences was in the parking ramp that I occasionally use when I drive to work by myself or when I have an appointment (my wife and I share a car, as an FYI). I usually end up parking up on the 4th level because it’s typically less crowded and I can generally find a parking space quite close to the elevator/stairs. Well, yesterday my wife had the day off, so I drove myself into work and parked in this ramp. I was a bit late so I didn’t get the best of spots, but upon walking to the elevator I found myself waiting for a lift down with two other people. One of them was a man wearing a grey suit and blue tie, and the other was a woman wearing jeans and a shirt. The elevator dinged and the one in the center opened up. Standing inside of the car was another man, this one much taller and more robust than the first. The three of us entered and waited for the door to close. We descended down to the street level and when the doors opened something truly unexpected happened. So unexpected that I practically made a fool of myself. When the door opened, the men stepped aside to allow the woman I was with to exit before them, and then they paused. At first I had no idea why they weren’t just leaving until it dawned on me that I was a lady and they were waiting for me too!!

I quickly recovered, said thank you in my timid and quiet voice (because I’m still not 100% comfortable using my raised voice in public, even though I’d spent the entire 35 minute drive in practicing it) and stepped out of the car ahead of them. As we all went our separate ways I just marveled at what I’d just experienced. It was, as I said before, a simple experience; one probably not worthy of notice for anyone who was used to being seen as a female, but to me it meant something so amazing! I was being treated like the other women around me! Instead of being just one of the guys politely waiting for the ladies to leave first, I got to be one of the ladies!! (/que I’m a girl!! I’m a girl!! I’m a girl!! I’m a girl!! I’m a girl!! I’m a girl!! Dancing again). More than that, however, I was in all likelihood passing to these men as a female as neither of them seemed to read me as transgender. I’ve been at this full time gig for like 9 days, and I’m already finding myself passing? I’ve only been on HRT for 4 months and I’m starting to fly under the collective radar? This is truly unexpected. The chivalry is truly unexpected. Instead of getting berated by men, I’m being politely yielded to by men?? Am I awake?

The second experience was equally as unremarkable to anyone used to this sort of treatment, but it was almost as unexpected as the first experience. This time I was leaving work. I went down to the skyway level like I normally do, and headed for an escalator that spits me out of the building further down the street than if I’d taken the elevator to the first floor. I do this for several reasons, the biggest of which is to avoid more of the crazy people who tend to gravitate to the area. When you come out the side door they have less time to notice you and size you up for one of their typical cons (I say typical because I see the same guys doing the same routines week after week right outside of a liquor store, as if they needed the help solidifying the stigma) that usually go something like “Excuse me, my car ran out of gas just down the block /points in a direction where there are no stopped cars at all/, can you spare some money for gas?  No? you don’t have any cash? well can we go to an ATM to help me out (AKA So I can totally rob the shit out of you?)? No? Well fuck you then!”

So, as I’m preparing to walk out to the street and hope to avoid this exact kind of interaction (usually happens at least once a week), I notice a man walking in front of me. He is Latino, poorly dressed and looks really sad. I simultaneously feel really bad for him because I know from experience how hard it is for many Latinos (I was friends with many Mexican immigrants back in my college town, and even helped tutor some of them in their ESL classes) and begin to fear that he’s going to harass me for cash, which I never carry. Looking back at it now I feel really bad for the snap judgments I made about this man because what he did next was very considerate and nice. He walked out the doors ahead of me and turned back to see me walking up behind him. Instead of just allowing the door to swing closed on me or just nudging it enough to give me time to catch it, he stopped, stepped to the side and held the door open for me with a kind smile. I was, yet again, blown away by the experience. Never in all my life as Robert the male did any stranger ever do anything like this for me. As a man people just assume you got that shit and half the time don’t even think twice about letting that door close in your face. So far, as a transwoman, I am having the opposite experience. Other people are constantly yielding to me and treating me with a sort of unexpected politeness that I never experienced as a male-presenting person.

I have to say, it feels really good for other people to see me and treat me as a woman. It feels really good to “pass” in social situation. I understand why so many transgender individuals feel such a strong desire to try to pass. It is definitely uncomfortable to have people constantly staring at you, and passing offers the kind of invisibility privilege that being cisgender offers. With that being said, I am not ashamed of who I am. I am never going to try to claim to be a female when I know that I am something different and more than either of the binary genders. I am a non-binary transwoman and I am proud of who I am. I just also like being treated with kindness rather than gawked at. Can you blame me?

But all is not sunshine and roses with this transition. As with all things, there are positive aspects and negative aspects. While chivalry in some men is not dead, it is dramatically replaced with misogyny or horny-teenager-syndrome in other men. Along with the amazing ability to be “passable” as female, I am also subject to being ogled by men who have nothing good in mind. Having been one of those men in times past, I KNOW what these guys are thinking about (good God does testosterone give you just awful raunchy thoughts; I can say that because since I’ve dropped my T level to almost nothing, all those thoughts I used to experience have gone away completely).

 The amazing thing about these men is that they don’t even have the decency to try to hide their intentions or admiration. It’s almost as if they think that I want to see them staring at me like I’m a piece sex cake. They get that look, you know the one, the same look a fat kid (I used to be one) gets when they walk past a donut shop. Their eyes grow wide, they practically start to drool, and they just can’t stop staring. They may even make some sort of comment or sound to indicate their internal ecstasy over seeing such a desirable object. I’m glad to say that I have not been sexually harassed by any of these dirty-minded drool-bags, but I suspect that is only a matter of time. I suppose in some ways being “passable” as a woman also means being subject to objectification. This too will be something I have to get used to, especially as I become increasingly feminine as the HRT does its work and as I continue to lose weight (I’ve surpassed my 80 pounds lost benchmark with this week’s weigh in, yay!!).

But moving on from teenage boys pretending to be full grown adult men, I have to enthuse about a show I’ve been watching. If you haven’t hear the scuttlebutt or you’ve been living under a rock, there is a new show on Netflix called Sense 8 produced/directed by the Wachoskis (The Matrix, V for Vendetta, Cloud Atlas, etc.). For those who have been living under a rock, which I actually was in this regard until just a few months ago, Lana of the previous “Wachoskis brothers” is openly transgender. She even won a visibility award from the HRC a few years ago (you can read a bit about the show and watch her amazing speech here http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/lana-wachowskis-new-show-featuring-openly-transgender-actress-premiers )

The show itself is basically about this group of people spread out all over the world who are suddenly given this sort of psychic connection with one another, where they can contact each other and share their experiences without ever traveling. They can project themselves to each other and even tap into the other “cluster” member’s abilities/knowledge (there is an awesome scene where one of them taps into the fighting knowledge of the other and lays the smack down on some ne'er-do-wells). The most interesting part of this show, at least to me, is the fact that one of the cluster members is a transwoman. And this transwoman, wait for it… is actually being played by a transgender individual!! OMG, and the crowd goes crazy! For once, we have a damn trans person playing a trans person! And she is so hot! Like AHMG, I totally would (she’s even a lesbian in the show, which just tickles my fancy in all sorts of ways).

What’s somehow even more amazing about this character Nomi, is how it truly captures certain parts of very common transgender experiences. There is a scene where Nomi ends up in the hospital (held in quarantine by the bad guys, of course) and her mother and sister show up. Her lesbian partner is denied access because she “isn’t family” but her blood relatives are allowed in, despite them not getting along at all. Nomi’s mother INSISTS on calling her by her birth name Michael, and referring to Nomi as her son. She tells Nomi that she loves him* and always will, even if it’s on her own terms.  My wife and I were just stunned and horrified by this scene, not because it wasn’t accurate or didn’t adequately capture a very common experience among transgender individuals (my mother still calls me Robert, and my father still calls me Son, so this really hit home for me) but just because of how REAL it felt. I empathized so much with Nomi in that scene. I knew her pain and frustration. My wife, who hadn’t even really been paying attention while she was reading her book was so struck by what was happening in the show that she stopped reading and became immersed in the scene.

FINALLY!!  A show that was capturing the true essence of what it can mean to be transgender (and lesbian)! To be called Michael by your family instead of your real name! To have your partner denied entrance because they aren’t “family” and to be forced to deal with an unaccepting parent who refuses to see you for who you’ve become! Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed transparent, but this show is blowing that one away in my opinion, most especially because the transgender character is actually transgender!

And the goodness doesn’t end there. There are so many other parts of Nomi’s story that resonated with me. She’s a lesbian trans woman blogger who talks about politics and has a difficult parental situation? I’m beginning to believe I’ve had my life ripped off by a TV show! Okay, not really, but you can see how this character might appeal to someone like me. Regardless of the rest of the show’s story, I highly suggest you check it out simply to have some time to spend with Nomi. She’s even dating one of the Dr. Who girls in the show! How can you resist that?
If the trans character played by a trans actor isn’t enough to wet your appetite, then maybe all the hot sex scenes and Gay romance storylines will interest you. One of the other cluster characters is a closeted gay Mexican heartthrob actor named Lito who is madly in love with his partner, but is forced to carry on a pretend relationship with a woman (who eventually discovers his secret and embraces it). They have loads of steamy love-making scenes, not to mention a rather compelling storyline. This show just has LGBT written all over it, and I suspect most of that is because of Lana’s involvement in the show. If  you have Netflix, check Sense 8 out. The first season is available for streaming now.

 

Well, that’s all I have for today my darlings. I tend not to live a boring life, so I’m sure there will be more to come soon enough. Much love to all of you! and remember, you are beautiful, amazing, brilliant, and unlimited. Never forget that.

 

-Emma

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