Field Notes In/On Transition
The Slow Season
The further I get into comfort with my transition, the less I feel compelled to write my blog about Transition. It’s true, the last few entries have been less often, and a bit more of a struggle to write. It’s not like I have nothing to talk about, less fears, doubts, joys, accomplishments, or anything.
I have some recent “firsts” even. The other night I had dinner and drinks (too many drinks, Oy!) with an acquaintance from “the community”. It’s very cool to find so much commonality with a Trans Man, someone going the opposite direction from me.
The “First” though, was using the Ladies room in the restaurant we were in. Which I did kind of unconsciously, as I wandered out of the Ladies, I realized I had been in the Ladies. I’ve consciously avoided restroom confusion when out in public places as I am wary of any kind of confrontation. But there wasn’t any, and in fact I’m sure that in that particular restaurant, no one gives a fig which identical (except for male/female action figures on the door,) Loo you use.
I’ve gotten way less concerned with accidental “Sirs” or “Hey Buddy” comments coming my way. It still irks me a bit, but hasn’t made upset in a while, except in those rare cases where the “tone” of the “Sir” is sarcastic, or mean sounding.
I do get the occasional weird Tranny-cat calling from a couple of the “spare change” scruffs who dominate the sidewalk on my street where I work, but like most people, I ignore these jag offs who don’t seem to know that no one is going to give you change when you heckle or harangue. This kind of thing doesn’t piss me off like it used to, and I am developing a bit of a sixth “creepy dude” sense. I take wider berths around not so well lit areas of my walk home now that it’s getting darker earlier, things like that.
Not just because I’m presenting female, and getting more creepy dudes noticing me, but due to recent reports of a gay bashing in my ‘hood. This has many folks in the community being a bit more vigilant. It’s sad of course that we have to be fearful, but at the same time, bullies aren’t all just people you know from work or school. Sometimes they are strangers who have nothing better to do than pick on people for their own vague stupid reasons. Being a woman in public really is completely different from being a man. It really really is.
While I am being a bit more cautious, I am getting out and about as much as ever. I feel like i’m getting out to restaurants, hanging with friends a bit more than I was last year. Coming out of my shell a bit perhaps.
Part of my new comfort with being out in public of course comes from being a woman all day 5 days a week at work, and having more and more people see me as such. My friend I mentioned above, told me over drinks that he’s heard from neighbours and acquaintances that... “there’s a new woman working at the video store, and she might be Trans.”
So exciting to hear those kinds of things. I like being perceived as the new person at the store, that maybe some folk are not even connecting me with who I was presenting as less than a year ago. I do really feel like a new person most of the time.
Speaking of new things, new ideas: I also have recently been thinking about my future a bit more, beyond transition, beyond the next so many months. I may always have been a dreamer, someone with hopes, fantasies about some vague future where I make a living writing, filming, etc, but have never really believed in that future, they were comforting pipe dreams. And while I just might be able to make a living in the future as a writer or some other artistic “job” I am not aware of presently, I have been really coming to understand that I have a pretty good capacity for listening, conversing and helping people, offering points of view, etc on whatever issues we are discussing.
The one thread throughout my own many jobbed “career” has been my ability to get along with people, and more importantly to converse meaningfully with anyone, pretty much. From being a Stage Manager (where the patience of Job is not nearly enough to deal with “talent”) to a live in personal care-giver, or an ESL teacher, and especially as a manger/clerk in an Indie Video Store, the one thing all these jobs have in common is being able to think and converse laterally, to give people options for what it is they are doing.
I’ve always bemoaned my job history as too disjointed, confusing for potential employers, and had a very cynical view as to whether there could ever be another job out there for me, beyond the video store. And while things are actually humming along really well at said video store, I do feel that it likely won’t be my employer until retirement age, which at the rate the world is changing will likely be in my 80’s or 90’s :p
I do need to start thinking about if God/Buddha/(insert deity/non-deity here) forbid, something happens at the store that I’m out of work... What can a late 40 something or older Trans Woman expect to find for work? I’d love to have some benefits, or a great paying gig, but more importantly it would have to be something where communication is the key element in what I’m doing.
Currently, I’m thinking about doing some volunteering and/or training in the vague area of “counselling”... As a Trans person, I want to be able to help other Trans folk, and non Trans folk understand that at the core we are all just people struggling with our identities, and coming to terms with who we are on the inside, and the outside. I’m not very confident in my ability to finance some sort of higher education, doing a course at a community college, or even some sort of masters course, but people keep telling me that it’s somehow possible to work/school in the 21st century. I still have some doubts. The idea of ending up in as much debt as I was Pre-Japan is very frightening to me.
For me though, just having some optimism, that someday when I’m done at the video store, I won’t be a homeless person, living of the welfare is kind of a new idea. For a really long time... since returning from Japan and finding that even if you apply for over a hundred jobs, you are lucky to get your old video store job back... I’ve had a very dark view of what potential I might have “career wise.” The odds of me ever making a fortune, or even a living as a writer has always seemed slim to none; about the same odds as winning the lotto.
As I continue my transition, though, I have begun to see some light down that tunnel. Despite the horrid state of the economy, and the fact that we have leaders who put oil (and other “Big Business”) ahead of humanity at every single turn; I do feel like there has to be something out there that will both give me some kind of near comfortable employment down the road when DVDs are obsolete and movies are beamed directly from Walt Disney Corp. into your brain or whatever.
It’s kind of freaking me out a bit that I have these hopes, that I can see a future for myself as Josie. As Joe, I saw nothing but darkness, disappointment and self loathing that leads you nowhere (and KnowWhere) but into that place of “But I Can’t Do That,” “I’m Not Good enough,” “I’m Not Qualified.” I now realize those terrible mantras are the same things that kept me from starting transition for so many years. Now that i’m in the midst of transition, I realize those mantras were just the fear, self hatred talking, and talking and talking.
I have no idea what possible “jobs” my new life might bring me. Maybe i’ll be working at Black Dog until I’m 70, I really don’t think you can predict the future, but you can be prepared for it, and that is what I’m starting to do right now. At the least, my mind and my heart have begun to grok the idea that I actually have a future.