30 is the new 20

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Ritsuko Akizuki by Chiaki Rakutou

While I’ve been going about getting ready for my day or eating, I’ve started taking up an old habit of mine that I used way back when I was working a 9to5: Listening to TED talks. There’s always something to be learned or be inspired by, depending on what really matters to you. During that job period a few years ago, what really mattered to me was staying creatively charged and becoming independent – they were typically connected in very tight-knit association. What really matters to me these days comes in two parts as well.

The human connection and achieving success.

I can’t tell you just how unexpected my life has turned out. To add a bit more perspective, I started this blog in my Sophomore year of college 10 years ago. I was ambitious, confused, and unsure of where I would fit in outside of the confines of college. I didn’t expect to still be writing entries for this blog over a decade later, let alone have anyone reading it. I didn’t expect to have the connections I’ve made as an artist in my own right. I didn’t expect to publicly come out as transgender in my late twenties. Thankfully, the human connection has always been a prevalent aspect of my perspectives as far back as my early teens. After sabotaging my growth of success in high school and then falling short of my goal to graduate with honors from college, I thought I had learned the hard way enough to achieve a level of success I believed and wanted for myself.

Now, I’m just a few months shy of having been alive for 30 years, and it’s pretty clear that my twenties has been the most enlightening & thrilling, yet debilitating & demoralizing period of my life. I have had no success for two consecutive years in being hired part-time & full-time. I did have a short, summer stint in a company last year and, thanks to a friend, started working at GameStop approximately 15-20 weekly for minimum wage. I’m in massive debt in my attempt to pay my bills, creditors harassing me, car repairs, previously paying rent to help my mother, and the list of reasons goes on. After being told for months that I wasn’t trying hard enough to find a job, I cleared the air  with my mother. I have accepted her wishes to relinquish her of the responsibility of housing me. My “lease” under her roof ends the end of May and she believes I’ll be smart enough to “figure it out.” I’m still not sure where I’ll end up, but hopefully by mid-May I’ll have some kind of arrangement.

Despite the peppered successes that I have been met with in my twenties, I have reached at a point in my life where I often feel frustrated at where I’ve ended up career-wise. Though I wish them well & celebrate them, I find myself angry at the successes of my peers to the point of disengaging from social media for the sake of my psyche. I have become ambivalent toward the gradual increasing number of romantically-inclined suitors in my life due to the shame I have to dispel every day I look at my bank account.

In lieu of all of this, I was recently hired for a Sales/Marketing Executive position after a grueling three-step interview process spanning two days. My sales experience at GameStop as well as my corporate background and probably a number of other factors that, for some reason, failed me in other interviews qualified me as someone to bet on.

These people are giving me a chance to find success in a field I fervently avoided for much of my life. However, GameStop taught me that I have a gift for sales which lies in my level of empathy and sensitivity to humans. Said in a few words: I actually care. I leveraged that and my absolute need to start a career outside of my creative passions. Thankfully, they saw what they needed to see. How very ironic.

Given that this job will be what appears to be a macro version of what being a Sales/Retail Associate is, there is a strange paradigm shift within my life happening as I encroach on 30. Giving myself an opportunity to pursue this line of work is inherently empowering me to combine the two elements I mentioned earlier. By facilitating a human connection, I’m able to understand what people want – physically and psychologically – so I can help better their lives. By helping to better them, I, in turn, able to achieve a better life through repeated success. Not just in my commissions or pursuing the highest level of leadership I can, but also in nurturing my deep-seated passion for cultivating meaningful human experiences.

After a lively conversation with the woman who handled my first interview, she asked me how old I was. I told her and she replied:

“You’re in my age group! Good thing 30 is the new 20, huh?”

Maybe she could be right about that? As I put aside my creative pursuits to fully commit to building a career path as a business leader, this job could very well be the real beginning of my life as Nina. I truly hope so.

My Facebook transgender narrative

This morning, I had a strange impulse to look back into my past. I typically avoid this for the sake of staying present and aware of where I’m going, but I did it anyway in the simplest way possible: I used Facebook to flip through all of my profile pictures. And I’m going to share this experience, along with some of the profile pictures, with you in a visual, personal way that I hope will put my unique transgender narrative into a bit more perspective.
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Just a girl doing the business

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Original Art by Sovalou

Exiting the stall, two gabbing girls strolled out the bathroom, leaving the sink area open for my use. My girl friend stood quietly, drying her hands as she waited for me. After discovering that all but the closest of the sinks to my friend had faulty hand sensors, I  chuckled to myself as a peculiar realization hit me that I just had to share.

“Hey,” I whispered to my friend who had accompanied me inside the bathroom, not as moral support but as a fellow woman who also had business to attend to. I began washing my hands to further keep my next words between us in the event someone still inhabited one of the stalls.

“Remember when I was terrified to go to the bathroom alone and I always asked you to come with me?”

“Yeah,” she said, almost as if she knew to keep her response short and concise as I removed my hands from under the faucet, shutting off the running water.

I smirked at her typical matter-of-fact reply which, for anyone who knew her like I did, was standard fare. She cared a lot for me though and had been my biggest supporter, confidant, and donator of about half my wardrobe. I owed much of my early maturity & the foundation of my girlhood to her constant trust and love for me as her friend and fellow female.

I turned the dispenser wheel and tugged at the paper towel, still wearing a confident smirk of contentment on my face.

“I can’t believe how far I’ve come. Wow…I’ve really grown up, haven’t I?”

My friend nodded in agreement, a small smile on her face. Truly, I was in awe of myself. A little over three years had passed since I began self-exploring publicly. Slightly under three years since I came out to my mom & sister – the former of which still believes that God must decide whether to have her treat and perceive me as her daughter. I had suffered, endured, questioned, and doubted so much for so long. And now, after doing so countless times solo, I simply live my life. I go to the bathroom with only the rare instance of irrational paranoia creeping up on me.

Yes, even I, who had been blessed with a “cute face” (according to my sister), was, for a period of time, terrified to go to the bathroom of fear of being outed or stared at critically. And now, I don’t ever give it a second thought. Once in a while, I even occasionally smile or exchange a few words with another female whose goals are exactly the same as mine:

Do my business. Wash my hands. Touch up hair and makeup if need be. Compliment a girl on her boots. Keep on trucking through the day kicking myself for not saying more to that girl because I just so happen to be gay as fuck. (Fun fact: I’m demi-pansexual) 

Believe me, I know I’m fortunate, not just in looks but in the diverse area of the U.S. I live. Transgender persons who haven’t started HRT, or haven’t perfected their makeup tech, or have stronger features than I are still being policed & restricted, wanting nothing more than to do their business, small talk other ladies and, ultimately, be seen as another female who has no ulterior motive.

And yet, we are the danger. Why? To fear-monger a baseless, seemingly moral cis agenda that transgender persons are somehow looking to prey upon the gender group we want to be accepted by. A tad backwards, wouldn’t you say? Except, North Carolina seeks to pass bathroom bills that would do much more harm than good. Meanwhile, we are the ones cowering in fear of judgement, ostracism, and/or harassment. We are the ones who torture ourselves holding our waste if we don’t have a supportive friend with us just so we can feel safe and validated. Trans people are the ones committing suicide because they’d rather be dead than be repeatedly demeaned and forced to use the wrong bathroom…

…I remember these moments well. Such memories coursed through my mind that day not too long ago. And now look at me. Somehow, I had survived. I had become self-validated as a girl/woman in nearly every aspect.

Tossing the damp paper towel in the trash, I followed behind my friend as we exited the Ladies room together, confident and self-assured in my femininity and identity. I quietly hoped I’d find a way to share that realization in a way that would inspire others to find their self-assuredness & confidence. To not lose hope when the times are still very much against “girls like us” who, as the popular saying goes, “just need to pee”.

For a bit of contrast, I too was nearly made to use the wrong bathroom. I published an entry about that experience here that occurred during the beginning of my three years as an infant in my transition.