I wanted to write about how I survived my first job as a trans woman, but I unfortunately pressed Discard on my phone and lost my draft. So instead, I’ll write about something that happened to me a mere 2 hours ago as of writing this draft.
I finally got up the courage to go to the new salon my sister had recommended to me. What was holding me back was knowing that I’d be going visibly trans and that is sadly still a hard thing for me. However, I used the same psychological strategy as I did when I first got my hair straightened: Reminding myself that there are trans people who have no choice but to be visible every single day, and that I should be grateful I can even consider myself a binary trans woman in society where I do pass. So I ate my humble pie, got ready with my wig and contacts, and went on my way.
After giving myself one more pep talk about what’s the worst that could happen, I got out of my car and walked over. As I neared the salon, from afar I saw a black man sitting outside. In my usual introverted way, I hoped I wouldn’t have to pass them so they wouldn’t get a good look at my zero-makeup face. Too bad that didn’t happen as they were sitting right next to the entrance. I wandered past as casually as I could, only to have them suddenly stand up and say:
“Wow, you look like an honest-to-god woman! You sure got us beat!”
That was the LAST thing I ever anticipated to happen and a first for me similar to the security guard incident I had at a “rave”. As I glanced at them, I got a quick sense that maybe they too were transgender, but maybe Female-to-Male or just a non-binary transwoman, queer, or otherwise. I didn’t stick around to ask as I was too embarrassed and had no idea how else to respond when I had too many other things on my mind.
Thankfully, I was able to regain my composure and introduce myself to the salon owner as my sister’s sister. My sister had told me to introduce myself as her brother which I grappled with for a bit, but I made a silent promise to myself at the start of this year that regardless of the situation, I wouldn’t fake who I am anymore for anyone’s sake. I was grateful that the owner took my word regarding my gender and used female affirmations to prove it. I’m also grateful that I can keep going to my sister’s salon because I want to, not because I need to. I have literally stopped giving an establishment my business because of blatant misgendering which, in that case, happened when I clearly was presenting female.
I’m somewhat relieved my first experience on the street being shouted out at my least presentable state was being called a “woman” rather than the more scathing alternative exclamation. Instead of sacrificing my identity, I can now drop my sister a text saying “I introduced myself as your sister. I really don’t want to fake who I really am anymore, and I’m glad that’s out the way for next time.”