Sunday, August 23, 2009

My Misconceptions Shatter

There was a point in time, when all I really wanted was to be able to be myself. Then, as I opened up my heart to my friends, and began to venture out into the world, I thought I could have much more. In public, there was never a laugh from anyone. Mostly, I have felt safe and secure since my presentation started to come together earlier this year. My friends have always encouraged me about my appearance and my passibility.

I suppose all the positive attention and interaction went to my head, because somewhere over the last few months, I began to believe that I could lead a fairly normal life after all. There was this feeling that passibility could be within my reach; that I could some day safely go wherever I want and that people would correctly perceive my gender. Does it sound a lofty goal? Delusions of grandeur perhaps? What does it mean, when wishing for what most people already have, is expecting to much?

At any rate, as the title indicates, tonight those rose tinted misconceptions were shattered.

It was a lovely Saturday, and I had the day to myself, so decided it would be fun to drive over to London for dinner and a look around town. I got ready at home, in complete convenience instead of getting ready in my car. It was such a fun and relaxing experience. Dinner was magnificent. Service was very friendly and respectful. I walked through a couple of stores without finding anything I really wanted to buy, then my day took a turn for the worse.

As I stepped out on to the parking lot, a car load of teenage girls drove by, and a few were looking in my direction. Perhaps initially they looked because I was way overdressed for the store, having just came from the restaurant, which I was probably also overdressed for! (I can't help it! I only get to go out occasionally and I like to wear something fun when I do.) As the car rolled by, windows down, no one looked amused. They seemed casual, appraising looks but then as the car got past me, someone inside yelled loudly "Oh my god, that was a man!"

I was shocked. I had just been clocked, from a moving car, at a considerable distance. The speaker was not just suspicious. She stated it with no room for hesitation. She was certain she had been looking at a man. It was a bit of a blow, especially because of the distance involved. My confidence was shaken a little but still there.

My intent was to go home after that store, but after this incident, I decided I wanted to make another stop, so I could end the evening on a positive note. I went to Starbucks. The barista was all smiles, and incredibly nice, but completely unreadable. I'm almost certain she knew I was transgender, but the transaction went well and the other patrons didn't pay a lot of attention to me, so my confidence was partially restored.

Then, things got much worse. I walked into a gas station to buy a bottle of water on the way home. The clerk was a teenage or early 20s girl, and there were two younger girls inside the store. As soon as I pushed the door open, the laughter started. I've never experienced anything like it. There was a point in time, when I would have probably ran back to my car, but I am stronger than that now. I kept my poise, worked my way back for my bottle of water, and returned to the counter, while these children still laughed sophomorically, openly staring at me.

I had to walk within inches of them to get to the counter, then realized they may actually be in line, so I turned and asked. They said they were not, obviously trying not to laugh or smirk, then went down an aisle and continued snickering.

As I checked out my bottle of water, I was still smiling and completely calm. Then the clerk asked "Why are you all dressed up? The dress, and the wig, and all that?" My brain was struggling for something to say. Not only was I caught off guard, but baffled by the notion that I was wearing a wig. I was caught between wanting to correct her about my hair, and trying to decide what kind of answer such an obtuse, clueless person deserved. My sanity was starting to slip but I kept calm, and with an easy smile I looked her right in the eye and just said "It's a long story." My mind keeps going over all the things I wish I had said instead.

I was numb in the store, but once I got in the car, my social survival instincts disengaged, and I started to feel the hurt of what had just happened. The girls in the parking lot had clocked me at a distance. The girls in the store made up their mind while I still had one foot outside the door. No hesitation. No "maybe she's not a girl" suspicions. They knew I was a genetic male, without even getting into complex things like talking to me. Just looking at me from a distance, they knew.

And her question. "Why are you all dressed up? The dress, and the wig, and all that?" In the end thats what it comes down to. To some people, that is always going to be the perception. To someone, so inattentive that she thinks I am wearing a wig,when you can see traces of scalp through the first 4 inches of my part, I am obviously a genetic male after literally a few seconds of observation. Even to someone that clueless, it is that obvious.

My misconceptions shattered in an instant when I finished analyzing the events of the evening on my drive home. Suddenly and painfully I am aware that I am not nearly as passable as I thought. Probably most people recognize the truth of my genetics as soon as they see me. Most of them are probably only polite to humor me. To most of them I am probably a man in a dress. A man. I will probably rarely get a sincere "ma'am".

I used to say one of my worst fears was the possibility that I might never pass well enough to feel safe, and that I would be caught between genders, since I can not bare to live as a man again. I'm afraid I might be there. Everyone tells me how lucky I am, and how obviously feminine my nature and movements are. My body is doing what it is supposed to do on hormones. Still there is something about my appearance that can get me flagged as male in seconds . I'm not sure more hormones will ever change that. Its probably something facial; some combination of angles too sharp, and a forehead not smooth enough. But I'll never have the money to fix that. Maybe its the adam's apple I so despite. Maybe its a heaviness of the neck, of a broadness of the shoulders. Perhaps some combination of everything. Unfortunately most of that, I'll never have the resources to fix.

The dream of a normal life, where I can feel as safe as the average person walking into a convenience store, and socialize with the comfort that no one in the room has misconceptions about my gender, is dead. I'm always going to be a curiosity, and a joke to a few people, and to many people, I'll always be a man.

It hurts.


Leslie Ann said...

Sweet Shannon,


I've known you just over a year. The difference is amazing. You are not finished yet. It takes a lot of practice to be flawless. In time you will learn more subtlety in your clothing choices, once the novelty wears off. You will live in a more urbane place, though cretins live everywhere.

Don't let the buggers win. You need thicker skin, that's all, and some time to work on the tells. It'll come.

Love ya, babe!

Amy K. said...

Oooh. I was wincing while reading this entry. Either it's the fact that you write so well, or that I have been through SO many instances like you've just described... probably both... I really feel your pain. I'm so sorry, Shandy! I have come to loathe those teenage pipsqueaks with a passion at times. God knows what I'll do when my daughter is a teenager and her friends come over. Sorry, I'm just angry for you. I wish I could've been there with you to yell, "What the f--k are you laughing at!!!" Hang in there. It will get easier. You'll get gendered as male less and less, and when you do, you won't care as much. It's an uphill struggle. Just keep saying to yourself, "I think I can, I think I can..."

Sending virtual hugs your way,


chrissie said...

You'll do fine, ms shandy..... It's normal to take some knocks along the way.

Leslie Ann is right.

"Illegitimi non carborundum", cariad....


ms.shandy said...

Thanks so much ladies. I woke up in a little better mood this morning, but your comforting words have really helped me finish pulling myself back together. As I read I cried with joy. Its so nice to have someone to listen sometimes. Actually I'm crying again now at the thought. :)

Thanks for the compliments on the writing style Amy! And you are right about everything. You still have to know you can make it. And I do. For me its just going to take more time, and a refining of my public presentation.

Leslie, you are so right on clothing choices. Genetic girls who dress like me are definitely in a minority. Out of my whole place of employment there is only one girl who's actually flashy at ll. But for me, there are problems with doing that. Walking around dressed that differently invites scrutiny I don't need. Plus giving away that much of your shape is probably not a good idea when skeletally, you are male.

I'll be honest. Its embarrassing, but I think I just got so deluded that I thought I could pull things like that off. I guess I really needed knocked down a notch. Pride doth come before the fall after all. I suppose I am just lucky I learned how far I was over-reaching from a few teen girls,instead of some large, scary guy on a dark parking lot somewhere.

I think its time to respect my limitations and rethink my sense of style. Clearly short strapless floral dresses, 4 inch satin heels and pearls are not going to work for future trips to Ruby Tuesday's. Go ahead, laugh it up, I am. LOL!

Leslie, Amy, Chrissie, thanks so very much.

Warm regards,



Anonymous said...

We all know what you're feeling here Shandy. Hey, you're talking to the queen of "dressing down." I'd kill to be able to wear that cute sleeveless number you wore out of town recently. We all have male qualities that have to be overcompensated for. I'm lucky to have blonde hair that is easy to conceal...I have very narrow shoulders for a guy, partly because they've both been injured and my muscles are gone. I can't help but wonder what people think when they see me because I weigh 270 pounds. A GG that size would have so much gobby fat on her she would waddle like a duck. They have rolls of fat on the back of their arms...I don't. A woman my weight would have legs like battleships...mine are comparatively slender. Men are normally more physically dense than women. I've just about given up on wearing anything less than 3/4 sleeves because my forearms resemble Popeye's and also look like I have been using them to train attack dogs for the police.

Indeed, we are our own worst critics. One of the problems we as TG/TS, etc. have is that we so adore femininity and do not take it for granted. We want to express that femininity as often and as thoroughly as possible. Those teen girls were probably wearing bluejeans with holes in them. Hmmm...I wonder if I...Grandma Montana, could get away with wearing them. NOPE! We search for that happy balance where we pass the best. When we venture off the reservation, we get slapped back down. The only way to avoid it is to stay home...NOT AN OPTION, or dress like everyone else...usually an undesirable option.

If you need to get your confidence back, put on some jeans, don your flipflops, wear a nice, but not revealing top, and get back on the to speak. I never seem to have trouble with young teens because I'm so old they just don't care to pay any attention to me. If I get read, it's nearly always some women about 5'2" tall who is kinda homely and wrinkled, about my age or a little younger. I think my efforts to look nice shock them into looking twice or three times. Sometimes they look up at me as I walk doubt checking to see if my skin is in the wife of the Jolly Green Giant. I'm only 5'9" or so but that's a good bit taller than the average girl. Most of the time I think they are suspicious about my gender, but are just not sure.

In other words Shandy...don't sweat it babe. You'll find that sweet spot where you really are accepted as GG. You're just too pretty NOT to be able to do that. Who knows why you had so much bad luck in one day? I'm willing to bet it doesn't happen again for a long time...if ever.

Wickked said...

Ahhh, how misconstrued people's ideas can be of "normal."

Shan, I want you to know that you have been and always will be someone I look up to. You have real courage get up and do something for yourself that so many helpless T-Girls would never find the courage to do. I love you dearly and appreciate you more than you will ever know.

As for the comment previous to mine, I'd like for it to be known that although Suzi is right in that a physical male's body is more physically dense than a genetic woman's...


(In my own defense)
Allow me to be the first to point out that it is not necessarily true that a "GG who weighs 270 pounds would have so much gobby fat on her she would waddle like a duck." I'll never forgive myself for telling the entire World Wide Web this, but I am only 10 pounds shy of 270, and I, for one do not look like I have battleships for legs, nor do I have fat rolls on the backs of my arms, is this not true? You've seen me almost entirely naked, and would you not agree that even though I weigh in heavy, that my physique is not an accurate indicator?

Shannon, what I'm trying to get at is that everyone is proportionate in their own way. Albeit some have smaller shoulders, and some are half a foot taller than most GG's, but these are usually the people that have a more naturally formed bust and hip area, or they have a higher pitched, more feminine voice. The thing to keep in mind is that like some TG's, a lot of people carry more weight in their stomach, and some of us carry our weight in our hips and thighs, like you and I have been blessed with. Either way, as long as you know what makes 'you' work, and do it with style, what the hell do these little twerps have to say about it? Now when it comes to your ribcage and adam's apple, now those are problems that can easily be dealt with either by realizing what a truly beautiful woman you are, or having plastic surgery...which you definitely DO NOT need, no matter how much you complain to me. :)

And it's no offense to you Suzi, I'm just trying to add on to what you said.

Too put an end to this rant, just remember that the greatest mistake you can make is not being true to yourself. Forget the rest.

Love you.

Robin said...

Also, I hope you know that you have one of the curviest set of hips and bum I've ever seen, even on GG's. :) Thought I'd let you know dear.

ms.shandy said...

Thanks Robin and Suzi! I'm pretty much over last weekend. And Robin that last part is especially welcome! I've hated my body all my life, and wondered if there was anyway things could ever be corrected enough to make me feel better. I'm still often standing in mirrors, trying to decide just how wrong my proportioning is. So words like that last comment are very gratifying. Reading that just put me over-the-moon happy.

Think you are right about being true to myself as well. I've always been a proponent of trying to "blend". But really I am who I am, and I enjoy wearing what I enjoy wearing. My body does have a few specifically male traits here and there. But besides that, I am proud of my body for the first time in my life. So if I want to celebrate that by showing a little skin, I will! All the goofy little girls can laugh all they like. :P

ms.shandy said...

Was just looking back through the comments and wanted to say one more thing. Robin you definitely don't look your weight. For one thing, you carry your weight very well. And for another, you take pride in your appearance and always look great. Besides, I think we both know where you carry quite a bit of your weight. You make me feel like such a pitiful flat chested creature! *SMACK* LOL!

Anonymous said...

Keep posting stuff like this i really like it