Being Trans is Exhausting

It’s worth saying again.  Being transgender is exhausting.

exhausted

Why in the world would I have gone to all of the trouble to change my name, have surgeries and take hormones if I still wanted people to see me exactly the way they used to see me and use my old name and pronouns?  I wouldn’t.  That’s insanity, right?  But people, especially people that have know me a long time, just don’t want to let go of who they used to think I was and acknowledge, respect and honor who I really am.  It’s maddening, frustrating and, frankly, exhausting.

Candace and I went to visit her sister’s family a few weeks ago.  Her sister, who is ‘supportive’ of me, called us ladies twice even after I said something to her about it.  And then we were talking about me using the men’s bathroom in public and she was shocked (SHOCKED!!!!!)  that I would do that.  shockedAnd then we talked about me thinking about legally changing my gender on my driver’s license and she was surprised that that was even possible and that I would want to do it.  People just don’t get it.  She still refers to us as lesbians.  Please stop doing that sis!  She’s worried about what trump will do because her “sisters” are lesbians.  OMG!!!  I love her and I know she means no harm but this shit hurts.

I know that I could educate her, or try to, and I do try, but really, it’s just not my job to educate everyone around me.  Problem is, they really don’t care all that much to spend any time thinking about me and my gender on their own.  It’s just a big pain in their asses and kind of embarrassing to them.

And then, at work, I had to hire two new employees right before the end of the year.  Do I come out to them as trans?  All the other employees know I’m trans and some of them slip up occasionally and refer to me as she or my old name.  Plus, there still is the occasional phone call for someone named Dawn.  How do I explain that without coming out?

There’s also the fact that I avoid going to the doctor or hospital because I don’t want to have to come out as trans to get medical care.  I need to find a new PC doctor because my old one retired and I’m dreading finding a new one.  I’m hoping I can hold off going until I get my gender changed on my insurance, but then I realize that I will still have to explain that I’m trans in many cases.

It never ends.

This is the kind of crap that makes me just want to pull up roots and move somewhere where no one knows me and start over.  I didn’t do all of this to be dead-named and mis-gendered or misunderstood or to have to constantly be coming out.  Really, it’s pretty simple folks.  I used to be a girl and now I’m a boy.  Treat me as such.  You wouldn’t expect a boy to use the women’s room and you wouldn’t call him a lady either.  I just want to live my life in peace as who I really am.  I have no interest in constantly being reminded that I’m trans or having to explain myself or correct people or educate everyone.  There might be people who want those things or don’t mind it, but I am not one of them.  I did this so I could live my right life and be seen and treated like who I really am.  That’s it.  I didn’t do this to create a political buzz or stir something up or to become your educator on all things LGBTQ.  I really have no interest in all of that shit.  Other people are much more equipped than I to answer your questions (if you even think enough about it to have a question ) or be your political LGBTQ steward.  I just want to live my life as me.  I’ve waited a long time to get to do this and you fuckers are getting in my way.

frustrated

But, truthfully, there is no escaping my trans identity.  I am trans and I always will be.  Even if I did move far, far away from all that I know I’m still trans.  There’s still the doctor visits that I would have to discuss being trans or the hospital stay or the nosy neighbor who figured you out on the internet.  There’s no escaping being trans in this world.  I get breaks from it occasionally, but it’s always there.  I’ll be going about my day just fine, being seen as male every where I go, and suddenly someone will call me ma’am or someone I used to know will spot me and yell out “DAWN!!!!”

angry

What am I to do?

Well, first, I have to accept that this is part of my life now whether I like it or not.  There will be times when I will have to come out as trans.  There really is no way around this at least at the moment.  If I ever opt to have bottom surgery, maybe that would mitigate a lot of the need to come out to doctors and hospitals, but I’m not 100% certain about that either.

Second, I really need to get my own shit together about this subject and make it clear to my family, friends and co-workers what I need and expect from them when it comes to my identity.

Third, I need to stop being so ‘easy going’, aka a wimp, about how they speak of me and assert myself and enforce my ‘rules’.   This is the hardest one for me.  I’ve never wanted to be the kind of person who gets bent out of shape if they get mis-gendered, but when I see people who say they care about me not even really trying to do better it does hurt me and makes me angry.  I think it’s best if I learn to speak up more and remind them when they mess up, especially when it is obvious that they’re not trying at all.  If being assertive doesn’t work then they will get the same treatment from me.  I will refer to my sister-in-law as a he and her husband as a she.  Every time they mess up I will respond back at them immediately in a way that makes it clear that they need to try harder.  This might cause some hurt feelings on their part, but honestly, they hurt my feelings and don’t care, so why should I?  This is a 3-part process.  1. State my needs.  2. Remind them of my needs when they mess up.  And 3. when all else fails, make them feel what they make me feel so they stop being so thoughtless.

I never thought that living as a lesbian was easy but compared to being transgender it was a lot less exhausting.  I didn’t have to be concerned that every person I interacted with would acknowledge my sexuality or see me as a lesbian.  Most of the time I didn’t really need to think about my sexuality at all and preferred that others didn’t think about it either.  Living as trans is different.  It’s not about sex.  It’s about who you are.  Your identity.  Your gender.  Every interaction you have throughout the day has a little bit of gender thrown into it no matter how hard we try to avoid it.  You can not escape gender in this culture.  Polite people do not talk about sex to acquaintances, but everyone uses gender constantly in their conversations.  It’s a subconscious thing and most people aren’t even aware of how often they use gendered pronouns.  It’s so ingrained in us that it’s automatic.  Getting people to flip pronouns when they’re not especially motivated to do so is a monumental achievement and exhausting.  It’s exhausting to constantly get referred to as the wrong gender too.  And it hurts, especially when it’s done by those who we care about.  Bathrooms and lockers are gendered.  Dressing rooms in stores are gendered.  Sales people and wait staff are taught to refer to us in gendered ways.  Anyone who thinks gender is not that big a thing has never had to think about it and is at least mostly comfortable with the words people use to refer to them.  I’m here to tell you that gender is exhausting and inescapable when you refuse to let others decide who and what you are.

 

*Note:  While I admit that I am not 100% comfortable with everyone knowing I’m trans and living out all of the time, my need to not be seen as trans by everyone is not borne out of internalized transphobia.  I do have some internalized transphobia, mostly based on a healthy fear of what others might do to harm me.  I readily admit this.  But, really, the heart of the matter here is that I just want to be seen as any other male in the world without having to explain how I’m different all of the time.  I’ve spent my whole life feeling like I’m different and I honestly just want to be accepted as a guy without any asterisk or explanation.  Maybe that will change one day, but for now, this is how I want to live my life.

 

 

Ode To My Truck

About two years ago I wrote this post about what vehicle to buy next.   While this subject is probably not directly related to gender for many people, it is actually something that I have given a lot of thought to in regards to my gender expression.  A couple of weeks ago my quest to find my next ride came to an end.  I had mostly decided that I wanted to get a small SUV like a Honda CR-V, Toyota RAV4 or Subaru Outback.  I never drove the RAV-4 but both the Honda and the Outback had scored very high on their test drives.  Candace is also looking for a new vehicle and has been pretty sure for a couple years that she would either get another Honda Pilot or a Toyota Highlander.  After testing the Honda and being disappointed in it we needed to go look at the Highlander.  At this point I had mostly decided to get an Outback in green with all wheel drive.

This was going to be my next car:

subaru

I like the color, it’s small agile size, muscular lines and incredible intelligence.  This car practically can drive itself it’s that smart.  Not the manliest vehicle, for sure, but still a handsome driver in my opinion.

I’ve been driving this truck since 2007 and have loved it:

avalanche

This time around I wanted something smaller with a hatchback and all wheel or 4 wheel drive.  I wanted something rugged and masculine looking that didn’t make me look like a little old lady.  I was pretty happy with my decision to get the Outback, even though it’s not super masculine.  I’ve had an affinity for them since they first came out in the 1980s.

Basically, there have been four vehicles that I’ve always wanted to own.  They are the Ford Mustang (owned a black 2004 Anniversary model for about two years.  It was fun to drive), the Toyota Celica (no longer being produced), the Toyota 4Runner and the Subaru Outback.  I was on the edge of owning another one of my dream cars but I wasn’t really very excited for some reason.  One night I was outside with my dog and my eye caught sight of my old faithful truck sitting in the driveway.  Suddenly I realized that I wasn’t ready to not have a truck anymore.  When I went back inside I pulled up the Toyota dealer’s website to check out their used inventory so I could see what options they had on the lot.  I had basically ruled out buying a 4Runner because of the cost.  They were more than I wanted to spend and usually when I found them used they had over 100k miles on them.  I didn’t want something that old.  But, I got lured into looking closer at the 4Runner because they had a used one with 47k miles within my price range.  When we went to look at the Highlander for Candace I was going to take a look at it.

Well, I loved it.  It was grey with black leather interior and looked very handsome parked up on the curb.  The fact that the salesman had to drive it off the curb for me to test drive only made me like it more.  I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t drive as stiff as I’d imagined that it would and had a very comfortable ride, while still delivering a truck-like feel.  The interior was very handsome and comfortable.  When we came back from the test drive I parked it in front of what I thought was a new blue truck.  Candace commented on how pretty it was.  Yes, it’s very pretty but I don’t want to pay for a new one.  The salesman informed us that it was used and opened it up for us to look at.  A couple of years younger and with only 17k miles on it, a little spiffier interior and a really beautiful blue color, a few features the older one didn’t have that I had wanted and we started to make a deal.  Ultimately I drove that blue 4Runner home that night and we did the paperwork the next day while Candace ordered her new Highlander in red (Ooh la la Rouge, to be exact!  Where do they come up with these names?).

Here’s my new baby:

4runner

So far I’m happy with my decision.  This is not my favorite model year of the 4runner to be honest but it is actually the nicest as far as the interior features they’ve ever made.  I don’t intend to do any off-roading, which this is very capable of doing, but it’s nice to know I can.  In some ways I actually liked the older grey model better because it looked a little less pretty and a bit more rugged.  I definitely wouldn’t have been worried about getting it dirty or scratched.  I’ve always liked this blue that Toyota puts on some of its cars though, so I’m really pleased with that.  The interior is very handsome in black leather and I definitely feel like a cool dude driving around in it.  We took it on a week long trip to visit family a few days after we got it and it performed very well and handled all of our cargo as well as keeping the dog comfy on the long trip.

I’ve become a bit obsessed with my 4Runner and the vehicle in general since obtaining it.  I watch YouTube videos and look at photos online, read the wiki page about it and generally obsess over it.  I wanted to look back at the history of the truck because I was having trouble remembering when it was that I first saw one.  I remember the experience well, just not the year.  My ex and I had been invited to help one of our friends do something called a “Loon Watch” in Northern Minnesota.  The Loon is the state bird of Minnesota and every year the DNR gets citizens to volunteer to count them.  They assign each volunteer a lake (they have 10,000 of them, ya know?) to go to on a specified day and count how many loons you see on the lake then report back to the DNR your results.  So we had met our friend who had brought another friend to join us.  Her friend (can’t remember her name) had just bought a brand new Toyota 4Runner and I thought it was the coolest thing I’d ever laid my eyes on.

This is what it looked like:

87-4runner

It was basically a small pick up but the top could come off and it had a back seat.  I drooled over that truck all weekend.  The next day we woke up at the crack of dawn and launched our two canoes into the first of several lakes we would need to traverse to find our assigned lake.  After several hours and a couple really scary portages across swampy muck filled terrain we finally arrived at our tiny little lake.  There were no loons anywhere to be found on that lake (which was more like the size of a small pond).  The trip was a grand adventure though and I’ll never forget it or the cool truck I met.  I’m still not sure on the year, but it had to be around 1988 or 89.

While the 1st and 2nd generation 4runners are still my favorites of the 4runner family, the current, 5th generation, is probably my next favorite.  Sometimes I look at the truck sitting in my driveway and can’t believe that I finally have my own 4runner after all of those years of admiring them on the roads.  Candace’s mom always names her vehicles and she’s got us starting to do it as well.  I used to call my Avalanche Megatron because it’s kind of a transformer truck, similar to how the old 4Runners could morph into a convertible.  When Candace asked me what I was going to name my new truck I immediately told her it’s name is Sapphire.  Then I told her that we should call her new Highlander Ruby, which she liked a lot.  Hopefully they’re both going to be beautiful jewels that we will enjoy for many years to come.

Just for fun, this is the picture I’ve put on my computer’s home screen, to further prove my incessant obsession with my new truck.

old-blue

Now that truck is ready to climb some rocks and ravines.  I think this could make me want to take up the hobby of off-roading.

Thanks for indulging me my obsession.

On a personal note, I have put in motion the pieces I need in order to change my gender on my driver’s license and passport.  I’ll write a post about all  of that once it’s completed.

Carry on!

Note: If you happen to be interested in learning about the Minnesota Loon Watch here is a link to the DNR site: http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/eco/nongame/projects/loon_survey.html

Also the loon has a very unusual, beautiful call.  You can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4ENNzjy8QjU

Note 2:  It occurs to me that, though I named this piece “Ode To My Truck”, I really didn’t talk about my old truck much.  Suffice it to say that I still love it and I didn’t trade it in, so it’s still sitting in my driveway.  I drove it last night for a couple hours and it felt like a nice old broken in pair of Levi’s.  I need to keep it until we sell our camper or at least move it to a sales lot somewhere.  After that, I guess I’ll have to sell my truck and that will be a very sad day for me.  I’m a little bit in love with it, though not obsessed.  It’s probably the coolest vehicle I’ve ever owned.  Of course, that’s my opinion only.  Perhaps I should have called the piece “Ode to My Love Affair with Vehicles.”

 

My Little Advocate

I have a friend who’s 8 year old daughter is famous for saying whatever pops into her little mind with reckless abandon.  This little girl scares the crap out of me.  For a couple of years now she has looked at me strangely but not said a word.  Her mother knows that I’m terrified of what might pop out of her mouth and finds it pretty amusing.  I must admit that it’s fairly funny that I would be so nervous around an eight year old.  Lately she’s taken to telling me that I’m gross and weird.  I’m gross because a few weeks ago her dad and I took a bite out of some gourmet dog treats to see how they tasted.  (Not bad, actually.)  She told us both that we were gross for the rest of the night.  She likes to remind me about it every time she sees me now.  And now, for some reason, I’m weird.  I think she likes me, but I’m not really sure.  She brought me a bouquet of lollipops when I had my surgery and proceeded to eat a couple of them before she left.  Still, she looks at me like she’s trying to figure me out, but says nothing.  The tension has been building between us for quite a while now.

Last night Candace and I had dinner with her and her little brother and parents to celebrate New Year’s Eve.  She was quiet and pensive all evening.  She’s eight going on fifteen and already has teenage mood swings.  Apparently she didn’t want to go to that restaurant, but we had made reservations weeks ahead so…too bad, sweetheart.  After dinner we all came back to my house to play games and hang out.  My basement is a party zone and I have a little disco light that I turned on.  She started telling me that it was stupid to have a disco ball in such a small space and that I was weird.  Ok kid.  Usually I just say, yep, I’m weird.  Yep, I’m dumb.  Whatever.

All night I was misgendered.  It was she and her from all of the adults when referring to me.  As they were all packing up to go home and her dad said something about me and referred to me as a she, my little eight year old friend put her hand on her hip and said, “Dad, it is not a she.  It’s a he now!  It used to be a she.”  Dad’s expression was priceless.  Her mom told her she was smarter than her dad (that’s true!).  Finally it was out!!  My little friend said what I should have said a long time ago.  And now I know that she knows and we’re good.  Thank you my little advocate for speaking up for me.

Out of the mouths of babes.

Happy New Year!