Need to rant. As regular readers know, I’m not gung-ho on going stealth. However, I’m also not gung ho about having my trans identity being the first thing people know about me. As with my bisexual orientation, it’s the kind of thing that I don’t want to hide but I don’t necessarily want to wear on my sleeve either (I do wear a t-boy cuff but only people who know what that means think anything of it). If it comes up, it comes up and I won’t hide but that is contextual. And where, when and how I come out is up to ME and no one else.
Now, I’ve been patient with friends and co-workers, trying to get them to get the pronouns right. When it’s just us, I can tolerate the slippages somewhat, although I’m getting stricter about correcting them. But today, I just about lost it. I was outed in front of total strangers not once, but twice! The first time, a colleague was trying to answer a student’s question. I did not know the student. The colleague point at me and said: “Maybe she would know.” I was mortified. I’m being read as male 95% of the time by strangers so I have no reason to believe this student was any different. I was presenting as male. I look and sound male. And I had to say: “You mean ‘he'” much to the bemusement of this student.
Next, another colleague called me by my girl name in front of a guest speaker. Again, I was mortified. I had invited this guest to the college and, when giving him a meeting point, I had told him to look for a guy in his 30s with a spider on his left hand. Since I got no weird looks upon meeting him, I had no reason to think that he read me as anything other than male. So to hear me referred to with my girl name must’ve been very confusing. And it certainly was very frustrating for me.
All they ever say is “sorry/it’s normal/give us time/it doesn’t mean anything/it’s just a slip” but what they’re not getting is that everytime they slip in front of strangers, they are OUTING me or at least confusing the person I’m interacting with so that, suddenly, a run-of-the-mill interaction becomes question-laden for the new person and embarrassing for me. What am I supposed to say? Oh, people think I’m a girl? Oh, people confuse me for my twin sister? Oh, I used to be female and I’ve transitioned to male but people around me can’t adjust? How am I supposed to have a normal interaction after someone “she”s the guy they see in front of them or calls him by a girl name?
Back when I first contemplated transition, I thought that I would have to leave and start somewhere new. Not because I want to go stealth but just because I want to be taken at face value. Then I thought, no, it’ll be OK, they’ll get used to it and be able to adjust. But it’s not happening with the people around me who are unable to see me the way strangers see me. It seems many of them are unable to let go of the woman they thought they knew. I know they don’t mean harm but it’s a reflection of what they’re seeing when they see me: not a guy but a woman tring to look and sound like a guy. And I can’t help feeling hurt, embarrassed and frustrated by it.
I almost took a semester off for next term but now it’s too late. The deadline to apply has passed and I’m going to be stuck there for a whole semester probably being outed in front of students constantly . I think I’ll have to just walk around ad not look at anyone, not have any conversations with anyone but new students so that I don’t get the “she” and the girl name. Then I’ll be gone for a year in the sub-arctic and maybe when I come back I’ll be “man enough” or they’ll have forgotten the woman and just see me as a new person. I hope so because I can’t handle the idea of 30 more years of “she” until I retire.