Saturday, 29 June 2013

Whose Side Am I On?

I had an incident in work today that was awkward for me to deal with. As soon as one of the girls on my team thrust the open magazine in my face and said something along the lines of "do you think she is fit?", I knew this might be a little awkward. I recognised the girl on the page, she was someone I had already seen a story about a month previously on the internet, and the story was about her successful transition from boy to woman.

The girl on my team was trying to 'trip me up' in the same way she had just done to several others on my team into saying they fancied someone who 'is actually a man'. Now, I was suddenly faced with a dilemma. The topic is very close to one of my biggest secrets and im very conscious of what I say and do whenever it comes up because I dont want to give the game away, but I had mere seconds to come to a decision about what to say, and im not exactly proud of my response: "he". I could have played along, and just had a laugh at my expense for a few minutes but instead some twisted form of pride got in my way and regrettably on the spur of the moment I panicked and opted to save face.

I explained I had seen the story previously and wasnt going to fall foul of her game, but then of course the obvious happened and members of my team started chatting about a few people they know who crossdress. Regardless of my response, this would have happened anyway im sure. I didnt hear a lot of the comments, but I did hear the odd one: "Yeah, he wears womens underwear and everything", "thats just weird", (referring back to the magazine) "I cant believe thats a man, look you can still see his willy in his knickers", and so on.

I felt really uncomfortable, and it does seem to be happening on a semi-regular basis these days. If its not dealing with media portrayals of Transvestites (Just-Eat & Bet Victor adverts are the worst for me at the moment, I cant help but feel they are a reflection on me), its the topic being brought up by friends from time to time. Another example is about a month ago we had some friends stay at ours after going to see Eddie Izzard, soon after their arrival they started chatting about him being a Transvestite, and spent a good 30-45 mins speculating in a manner that gave the impression they thought it was a bit freaky. Of course, I didnt say very much and me and my partner gave knowing glances across the room from time to time.

I never know what to say or do in these circumstances. I read all these blogs online by people who take a stand for what they believe in whenever they are challenged, and I have a lot of respect for these people and feel obligated to do the same. To try and defend those who are like me and try to make those who are uninformed understand were not some sideshow freaks. Realistically though, ive got to look after number one. Its selfish but im not and do not intend to out myself to friends in the near future, if anything it could cost me my relationship with my girlfriend and that is far too important to me. I cant go down the route of defending and informing without giving away the fact that I know far more than I should, which means I cant do anything other than sit there and listen while my friends talk about people who are trans* in a frank manner, which im sure they wouldnt do if they knew they were talking about me too.

I would love to have been able to sit down with my team today to challenge their misinformed views and try to have made them a little more open minded. I wish I had not responded the way I did, it is extremely disrespectful and only served the purpose of reinforcing to the others in the group the fact that she was born a male, and not who she is now as a person. Instead, I just sat at my desk and just waited for the conversation to die out so the topic would change.


  1. Most of my friends know so I don't have that issue these days. In fact its more likely me saying things that raise the subject. I do know what you mean though, I have been there many times. .... I just used to keep quiet, always the best option.

    I see nothing wrong looking after yourself !

    1. I do keep quiet but feel like I should be saying something, with the situation with my team I was directly spoken to so couldnt really keep quiet about it, but could have chosen my response better. I panicked and effectively joined in with my initial response, and im not proud of doing that at all.

      It also makes me feel bad because in this instance, and the instances with my friends they are basically talking about me without realising it, and ive got no way of defending myself without outing myself to them.

      Not fun! :(

  2. It ain't easy riding out those conversations. The ones where you listen t to ill-informed twaddle, or one some occasions, snide comments.

    I think if you're careful, you can challenge misconceptions, but it's tricky. Maybe it helps if you're known to be a bit Right On. :-)

    To play Devil's Advocate: is it selfish or is it self-preservation? Are you acting from fear, or acting out of respect for your girlfriend? Maybe if other trans* folk did more, it wouldn't be open season.

    Looking at the last paragraph, I think it is easy to be down on yourself for not Fighting the Fight.... but, what's to win and what's the cost?

    Yours, from the closet,
    Lynn ;-)

    1. I left a reply and while I get the email to say it had been added, I just checked now and it wasnt here... weird. Well, here it is again, copied and pasted from the email:

      I could try and challenge misconceptions, but its all too easy to drop myself in it by giving away too much. The easier option is to ride it out but then I have to listen to mis-informed conversations where I am unknowingly made out to be some kind of pervert, among other things. My girlfriend has also sat through one or two conversations like this and it is not nice for both of us.

      Well, in the past I have said I would love to come out to everyone in my life and in a way I still stand by that, but at the same time if I actually had the opportunity to do so, im not sure that I would. Fear would probably prevail, especially after hearing what some of my friends and colleagues think about people like me!

      If trans* folk did more, then yes there would possibly be more understanding and acceptance, but it is kind of a catch 22 really. You cant defend yourself without opening yourself up to potentially more ridicule.

      Well, there is far more to lose on a personal level than there is to win, at the same time things wont ever change without challenging peoples views. However, personally in the long run I doubt we would ever see total acceptance and understanding like those of the LGB community at all, so is it even worth it?

      I suppose to summarise, its uncomfortable to hear people talk like this, and I hate feeling powerless to do anything about it.

    2. I think it very much depends on where you are going with this. For me there is a very real chance I will transition and that has driven my thought process. The secret I carried was getting ever heavier and in a way telling people set me free. I have no doubt that I attract pity in some quarters, maybe ridicule behind my back but overall coming out has been a liberating experience. For so long it was a worry that others would fine out was the big secret of my life. Now its out there the secret has no dread In general people have been kind and supportive and I guess in my own way I have challenged perspectives and corrected some ill conceived ideas. This wasnt the reason I dud this, just something that happened along the way.

      In no way would I suggest that correcting people's perceptions should be the driving force. I strongly believe that coming out should be for the sole reason that it makes sense for the person concerned and not for some greater good.

      As for people's opinions in general, I believe that most don't care and often people say things without really believing them. Its uncomfortable to hear but that's life sometimes. I work in a bank and apparently I steal money all the time !

    3. I think if transition is likely then telling people is an inevitability and the earlier you can correct those misconceptions amongst your friends then easier your life will be. There will probably be those who will talk in whispers when you back is turned, but like you say at least the secret is out. This however is not the path I am on.

      I also agree that choosing when to come out should be down to my circumstances, and not down to some 'greater good'. And I suppose that is not really my issue, although being out would be great, and would help! Its more the helplessness of not being able to defend myself when things like this come up, for fear of outing myself accidentally.

      Haha, I work in customer services and ive been personally accused of all sorts so I do get what you mean!

    4. Honestly .... I wish I wasn't on that path either ...

    5. I think in some ways we all wish we werent on the path we are on, wherever we are under the trans* umbrella. Life would be so much simpler, but here we are. We all have our own difficulties and it is something that will be with us for the rest of our lives.

      All we can do is keep our chins up and smile knowing that while life is tough we are making choices that are right for us, and that will at some point lead to happiness.

      As much as I moan, complain, and point out the difficulties im going through on here, I wouldnt change who I am for the world. For all the bad times, I get more back in good times.