Transgender 201: Being Attractive Is Not Enough

While having a first time face-to-face meeting with a fellow transwoman in a local cafe, our friendly conversation was interrupted by a 20-something guy who thought I was someone he knew. However, her and I entertained him as we rarely have moments like these. He talked our faces off upwards of an hour about big, intellectual ideas centered around psychology and humanity that genuinely interested me. He then kindly asked us for our numbers, of which she declined while I casually offered it up as I tend to do in an playful act that has become something of a personal social experiment I’ve been unofficially collecting data on.

The next day, he pretty much asked me out on a date via txt which honestly surprised me. On my way to work that day, I saw he was attempting to “friend” me on Facebook. I accepted his request and left it at that. Hours later, after clearly going through my Profile Photos, he messages me with the one of the most transphobic one-liners you could ever say to someone. While on the job, I broke out laughing & immediately sent a txt to the friend who was with me yesterday that the inevitable had happened. My brief exchange with the guy inspired this Tumblr post of which he was guilty of doing all but one. Feel free to guess which one in the comments.

Yes, he was relatively attractive. Yes, I would have given him a chance. Yes, I did not feel the need to reveal that I am a transwoman right out the door. Yes, I would have eventually told him if he had found something beyond my looks and initial actress charisma to desire more of.

Figures my first hands-on instance of transphobia & bigotry would be with a person who I had just met. No, I am not wrong for refusing to over-share in an effort to give myself a chance to be seen as the woman I am. Despite my seemingly jovial response, I am the victim. Not him.

Why am I posting this? Because it’s important to highlight my experience to the friends who think me having low expectations about ever obtaining a long-standing relationships is grossly unnecessary and misguided on the basis that I’m arguably an attractive black woman. To the masses who think transgender people are actively being deceptive by either going “stealth” or giving someone a chance to know them as a person in an effort to trick someone into a relationship.

On the contrary, we are protecting ourselves from gender discrimination, psychological harm, and, for those with less of a thick skin than me, losing hope in our existence. Case in point, according to the latest data compiled from the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey, 39%  of respondents “experienced serious psychological distress in the month prior to completing the survey compared with only 5% of the U.S. population”. 40% of respondents “have attempted suicide in their lifetime — nearly nine times the attempted suicide rate in the U.S. population (4.6%).” My particular instance is centered around relationships, but is hardly the most prevalent of reasons so many of us would rather continue living a lie or be “stealth” due to the stigma of simply being honest with ourselves. Worse, deny ourselves of being alive any longer.

This is not a joke and people on the outside don’t seem to get it. To be told “ohhh you’re attractive – there are people out there who totally would jump your bones” is downplaying a very real struggle that they will never have to navigate. Being told this by people who are either already spoken for on the long-term or have already ruled them out is even more demoralizing regardless of a strong will to endure.

I have not nor will not hide who I am in the interest of finding a mate. The moment I chose to continue pursuing a career in entertainment, I relinquished this and embraced my past for myself so no one would have ammo to dehumanize me. However, this is a very real thing that people do and likely have done to me multiple times in silence after me giving them my name for them to google at will. In this case, even after I sent them an open offer for candid discussion, he chose to remain silent. I’ve given people my name and number more times than you might believe, and the result, thus far, has been the same [among cis males].

For a final bit of insight, this instance of being asked to hang out one-on-one at a later date is the furthest I’ve ever gotten with a completely new person that I was truly interested in AND who showed a genuine interest in me after just an hour of conversation. This was also the first time I actually thought, “He’s quirky, incredibly smart, and hungry for knowledge; maybe he could be different...” For a moment, there was a semblance of hope…

I intended to unfriend him if he remained unresponsive to my offer for “open candid discussion” all weekend.

He had beaten me to it.

For more valuable insight & statistical facts pooled from over 20,000+ respondents (including myself), download the full report of the 2015 U.S. Transgender Survey. And, as always, thank you for reading.

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I Killed My Babies

At the start of 2014, five months before I began HRT, I made a very expensive choice to cryogenically freeze my sperm. At the time, I knew how testosterone blockers and oral estrogen pills were projected to change my body, but the only real certainty was that I would become sterile after a couple of months. Regardless of the choice I was making to move forward with my transition, I also knew that there was a chance I could one day end up in a loving relationship with a cis female who, like me, would still want to have a child with me. Knowing this, I took a very long drive to Pennsylvania (twice) – once to fill out the paperwork for a 2-year storage and another to actually do it.

Truth is, I figured I foresaw where things were headed for me career-wise. I was confident that my future self would be able to achieve financial stability before the two years ended. As this was my last major financial investment, recouping it, given my job experience, wouldn’t be that difficult.

Sadly, my life has never been so easy.

Two years passed and at the start of 2016, I was immediately plagued by the thought of not being able to maintain my storage. My lifestyle and body had shifted dramatically for the better. However, my financial health had plunged; I was wrought with debt just trying to keep myself afloat in a seemingly unfair and unwilling job market that no longer wanted to hire me. There was no way I was in any position to maintain my storage, but I pretended that I had somehow dodged a bullet and paid for much longer than two years or they had just trashed my storage because I hadn’t paid. Both would be preferable than having to take any action.

And then I finally received my first notice of due payment.

Neither of my imagined possibilities had occurred; they were still keeping my storage, but billing me monthly. Again, the worst possibility.

As I had more pressing matters to deal with – one of them being creditors harassing me; another being figuring out where I could possibly live in late May after my mother decided to kick me out of her nest – I ignored the payments. No, I wasn’t simply running away from reality, but had hope that somehow, some way, a proper job opportunity larger than my current part-time job would enable me to pay it off and keep the possibility of having a child alive. Just before I was to move out, an opportunity did arise, but was short-lived unfortunately.

And the billings kept coming…

End of July arrives and the impending bill about to total $200 is breathing down my neck. I had received a notice in the mail about how I could either extend my storage or terminate it. I had been holding on to this notice for some time, mulling it over as I hustled to obtain a second job according to my projected timing. Managing my funds well and actually succeeding in my goal to land an awesome second job a few days into August were wonderful pluses. However, they were not enough to justify me paying monthly, clinging to a hope that my life and luck would lead me to a cis female who would want to have a child.

So, to stop the bleeding, I made a call to the cryo center to begin paying a portion of my bill on a monthly basis. I also mailed my notarized form – yes, it’s that big of a deal that they make you have that done – for the formal termination of my would-be children. Logically and strategically, the core basis of all of my thought processes, this made sense to me. Emotionally, however, not as much.

Last Saturday, I received the notice in the mail stating that the termination had been completed. Truthfully, due to the lack of physical interaction with said sperm, I didn’t break down crying or anything. I did, however, feel a sense of loss. Almost like I had let someone down who had put their faith in me. In this case, it was my biological unborn child(ren) that I will never be able to have.

Many people will say “oh just adopt” or “trust me you really don’t want a child”. To that, I say: Yeah, you’re [probably] right. Yes, I had hopes to carry on my genes that I know are quite good. To see the miracle of life in action as a mother caring for a child who I could clearly see had parts of me and the woman I’d love. I did romanticize the idea of it all, but to actually choose to end all possibility of it…Well…despite how calmly I’m taking it, my actions prove that I wanted to fight for my right regardless of me also paying money to take hormones.

Just like junking my car, which I actually took tons harder, this was the necessary thing to do. For me. Right now. There’s still a lot I’m figuring out about myself as a woman and what I want on multiple levels. As I continue to cull the excessive fat from my life, l have no desire to feel any regrets. I would much rather truly live freely within my controllable certainty than chain myself down for the sake of an uncertain probability.

“Because I know the real you…”

pixiv-hanekoto
Pixiv @ hanekoto: Gumi – VOCALOID
On Sunday, I visited extended family. It’s kind of an awkward situation on how to define him – “friend” would work – since the person I visited was divorced by my sister as of this past summer. They have a child together who has magically become five years old. Though I’ve been interacting with my nephew a little bit since he’s begun making intelligible conversation, my visit to their house was the first time I was drawn into actively playing with him.

Needless to say, I hadn’t gone there to play with my sister’s son but to have a nice sit-down with her former husband, and laid-back guy I have always considered a friend. However, I’m glad I didn’t resist the impulse to deny my nephew’s request. This kind of opportunity when a child actually cares enough to ask you to play with them after having mere touch-and-go interactions prior is not something you ignore. Lest, you put irrefutable thoughts and assumptions into their heart that may damage the possibility for growing a friendship. Even someone like me who has very little experience with children knows this.

So, we played with stuffed animals, had a few games of tic-tac-toe using the most creatively imagined rules I’ve ever seen, drew and colored various shapes (mostly ice cream), and had a back-and-forth discussion about what “being nice” means. Most of all, we laughed and were having fun just going with whatever whim came about. Those two hours were very insightful, both emotionally and mentally. Not because of anything he did, but through realizing what it might be like to have a child…

…to be a mother-figure.

My friend and I did get around to talking about the divorce and how that affected him, as well as more positive things he was doing to keep his existence purposeful. He showed me quotes he had written down as possible candidates for another tattoo. As I read them, more and more I resonated with the place he was trying to reach.

I am attractive and worth being loved.

I LOVE MYSELF

I don’t think I have ever truly loved myself beyond my mental and emotional meddle. I was always trying to fit a mold that various people in my past have helped me shape, whether it was through clothes, way of speaking, or physical qualities. I sought individuality – being different from everyone in my family – though once I hit college, I realized something was not right.

Missing.

Broken.

My individuality was apparent but how the world branded me as was becoming harder to accept as I had simply adapted to get to the next day.

My situation is different than his, but we bonded over the painful truths we have come to accept and overcome with time. Believing that I am transgender, and sharing that with him seemed like it would be simple. But no, it hasn’t gotten any easier.

“So does this mean you’ll be walking around in a dress now?”
“That’s a pretty blunt way to put it…”

He was joking and actually was highly supportive in his own lackadaisical way – he told me later my sister had told him & his mother which threw me. In any case, his struggle made sense to me and I’m thankful I could make the trip despite the dreary weather. He convinced me to stay for dinner & I helped him prepare a piece of it. His mother came by also and her & I swapped smartphone stories for most of our conversation. This was the first I had ever been with all of them without my mum.

Spending quality time with my nephew, discussing with my friend the realities that have come & altered the very fabric of our individual lives, and exchanging lively banter with an older woman who not once let on that she knew my not-so-dark secret turned an otherwise depressing day around in a special way. Those moments allowed a few of my worries to be alleviated. One of them being the thought of never measuring as a proper mother – never mind the thought of never being respected as a female in general. Things that are every day for others continues to weigh on me…

…but not at all that day. My mind & heart truly clicked while interacting with my nephew, though I’m still far from being good with kids.

I felt a wave of joy as I got in my car as I thought on my future, feeling more alive and confident about who I am in order to take the steps needed to transition into the person and body that will fix what is missing. To help me feel beautiful for myself. To hopefully come to love who I am, and, if I’m lucky, be loved someday.

Wish I could experience such vivid clarity of self-actualization every day…