January 3, 2008
Reflecting on Day 2 at Work
After you live for 38 years in one gender, and then, pretty much overnight start living in the other, it’s the little things (not to go TOO Pulp Fiction) that are super easy to screw up.
Today I went to the cafeteria right across from my building for lunch. I got my lunch, and went to pay. Salad by the pound – $5.99 – D’OH! No wallet! Wallet (new one) is back in my office, in another building, in my jacket. WOO HOO! I have a fiver in my pocket… but I’m $0.99 short. You can’t really put part of your salad back. I told the cashier that I’d come back and pay (which I did). Back outside, back to the rain, down the hall to my office, repeat. Lesson learned – remember to have cash in pocket or wallet in hand.
One of the metrics I used back in September to figure out how “normal” things were is if the first thing that people asked me about when they saw me was transgender stuff, or work stuff. Back then, for the first couple weeks, the curve spiked, and very slowly dropped off. It took about two weeks until half the people started with non-trans stuff, and just pure work stuff.
I was expecting an even higher peak, and an even shallower drop off when I came back to work. I was fully prepared to be answering questions for quite some time. But, this is not what happened. Already, it’s been more than 50% starting on “work”, and not on my surgery “vacation”.
Part of the “normal”-ness of this all seemingly is related to the fact that while lots about me physically has changed – I dress about the same (see picture below), my voice is the same, and the email and f2f conversations that I have with people are pretty much – you guessed it – the same. While I’ve not tried, I’m going to guess that going to work dressed “ultra-femme” (besides being not at all me!) would generate much more of a reaction. I still have the opposite problem, in that I dress so conservatively – even still masculine according to some – that I’m still “read” as male.
I do also think that part of the “normal”-ness is about being comfortable. I *am* comfortable, I feel comfortable, and from what people have said – they see it too. As a result, it leads me to think that it reduces the discomfort, and also helps folks get through this with me much more quickly.
One thing that has been odd though is when people who I run into ask questions about things that I blogged about, but I know I never told them. E.g. “How was Vegas?”, “How’s the Samwich feeling?”, “How’s the Samwich’s tooth?” It’s kind of scary to think about how much you generally remember about conversations, and how experiences like that cause a total double take.
Tonight I brought the big kiddos to see their new cousin at the hospital (Anh and Samwich and some other family and friends were already there). Baxter is super cute, and we welcome him warmly to the family. After the visit, we went down the street to grab something to eat. When we were ordering, the waiter, who was looking down at my chest (I saw him look), said:
“What will the Gentlemen have?”
I said, pointing to Samwich (hoping he would get a clue):
“Who, the baby?”
“Well, most people don’t call me a Gentleman!”
He looked clueless, and continued to Sir/Gentleman me the rest of the night. Usually, I don’t bother to correct people, but it’s rare when I do, and it doesn’t even register. This doesn’t count as a Crappy Look, but it’s damn close.
Again, I realize that there’s lots of stuff that I still need to do – more hair removal – earrings – maybe a little jewelry – maybe not as conservative clothes (but see above…) – more healing – longer hair. I get it. I’m not asking people to get it by default – but wow, if someone says “I’m not a sir, I’m a ma’am” – why not take ‘em at their word at that point?
Anyway… today was another crazy traffic spike day here in this space – both another article from Valleywag ( http://valleywag.com/340222/what-it-feels-like-for-a-girl ) , and also a Microsoft MSDN blog – (One Louder – Heather Hamilton at http://blogs.msdn.com/heatherleigh/archive/2008/01/03/transgendered-in-life-and-at-microsoft.aspx) – so the comment stream went up both here and in the Valleywag article especially. One thing that’s really remarkable though, is as of 10:30pm PT tonight, the comments are very very supportive and positive. Again, my faith in people is increased. I really do appreciate the positive comments and notes of support. Even the challenging comments – its all good – I’m a fan of transparent and open conversations.
So, for those of you who have spent the time reading and those of you who have spend the time to then comment – thanks!