There are so many facets to being trans*. Between community, relationships, and transition, it can be difficult to find a place to feel comfortable. But how do you find comfort when your body does not align with your image of yourself? How do you handle dysphoria?
I found out this week that I get to keep my seasonal job. They moved me to part time.
I love this job for many reasons: I get to help people, answer questions, become more knowledgeable, and basically just have a job, which is always good.
One of my favorite things about this job though is the internal policy which bars discrimination of all kinds, including based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
Throughout our lives, we are burdened with labels, whether they are self-made or the creations of others. Within the LGBT community, they are especially prominent. There are bears, lipstick lesbians, bois, butch, femmes, baby dykes, studs. Even lesbian, gay, and bisexual are labels. I have been thinking a lot about labels lately as I try to identify myself. I have come to a few conclusions.
As I continue to think about myself and my gender, there are certain questions which sprawl through my mind. I often find myself quoting in my head Romeo and Juliet: “What’s in a name? That which we call a rose / by any other name would smell as sweet” (Shakespeare II. ii. 47-48). These lines are important to remember, meaning that no matter what the name, the make up of the individual remains the same. Names are assigned, only a signifier of the person you are. So why am I discussing names?
I am slowly admitting to myself that I really am trans, that I do want to transition. I feel more comfortable with male pronouns, with a masculine chest, with my hairy legs. So how do you tell someone that? How do you explain to someone that your gender is not truly female, the sex you were born, that you are really male? What can you say to someone to get a person to understand?
Over the past week, I have come across a few blog posts from people who have either noticed positive interactions for gender non-conforming children or who have helped to break down the gender binary for children in the classroom to prevent bullying. Children learn so early on how gender affects the world, how it creates a line to follow in every interaction, in every choice. Society dictates from the moment of birth how children should be dressed, what they should play with, how they should react and think, all based on its sex at birth, and children learn within those boundaries. The only way to allow children to escape the binary is to walk ourselves outside the constraints society sets or to educate them about gender outside of the rules reinforced in their everyday lives.
While researching today, I found a campaign working toward creating an equal environment for all genders at colleges and universities, The National Student Genderblind Campaign (NSGC). According to their mission statement, they question the way society has dictated that women should room with women and men with men. Why can’t students live with whomever they are at ease?
I had a job interview today, the first one in about a year. And though I now go by Cael on a day to day basis, I have still not changed my name legally, so I still must legally apply as Mary. In the course of past interviews, it has always been difficult to try to figure out how to dress as my life has progressed. At first, it was easy—though uncomfortable—to put on some tight pin stripe pants and a spaghetti-string tank top under an equally tight button up shirt. Then as I grew more comfortable with myself, I would trade the tight pants for some men’s slacks instead. Little by little, my style changed to reflect my male identity, and I no longer own any women’s clothes.
I have written before about societal expectations and how they affect the way gender is interpreted. Now that I present as a male, though, what is expected of me has changed. I do not visibly reside outside the lines of normal anymore, so I must think about what society wants to require of me as a male.
A friend recently suggested I write about hate. It’s such a hard topic, something we as LGBTQ people encounter on an almost daily basis. The level of hate one encounters, though, varies by location. Places with laws protecting the community such as California and much of the Northeast tend to be more accepting. People also vary in their acceptance of the community based on their level of education (generally those who have experienced higher education are less likely to harbor prejudice), their religious beliefs, and their social class.