Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Calling out! Calling out! Haven't you wondered?

It seems I have went too far with my voice!

Dealing with people on the phone from off site while at work was one of the first ways I started to work on correcting my voice. Despite certain inherent risks, such calls are still when I am at my most comfortable with myself it seems.

The last two weeks, I have been working extensively with representatives from one of our vendors on the phone. Some of these conversations were literally hours in length. For the most part I am the single point of contact with this company so as I saw it there was no need for caution regarding gender presentation . The tone of these conversations was mostly professional, but with a little humor mixed in to kill the time and a light casual feel.

My name is androgynous. No one asked me my gender but it was always clear that they had assumed female. Somehow you can just tell. The subject never came up, so of course I didn't feel obligated to clarify my gender status.

I really enjoyed getting to be myself in a professional environment. It was just so fun and comfortable I can't even put it into words. It was me being myself, without a worry in the world, and knowing that the people on the line knew my gender without question.

Monday, I arrived at work, and my boss and the other tech here were chatting in the office. The boss called me inside. "S, we have got to work on your voice!", he said with a boisterous jovial tone. "Steve from ______ called for you this morning, and he was telling me how 'S was working on this, and how she had done this, and she had done that'.

I'm not a good liar. If I were, the best response would have been mock surprise. Hopefully my very real look of total awkwardness was close enough! I think I probably looked more like a child caught with a hand in the cookie jar though.

For a moment, I thought about saying "Did he seem to think I was nice to work with? Did he think I did a good job? If so, does my gender really matter?"

Instead I said nothing. Probably for the best!

Next my boss told me I needed to watch some Home Improvement episodes, and imitated the signature Tim Allen grunt.

I just smiled and said "No comment." with a laugh, and then we were on to other matters.

Later that day, I had to call one of the Follett ladies, then she called back for me and got my boss on the line.

"Is S there?" she asked.

He said "I'll transfer you over to him."

She said "No. S. I was talking to her just a minute ago."

She was certain my boss was talking about the wrong person because he said he. :) :): ) :) :) :) :) :)


When I walked in Tuesday morning, the boss and the other tech were discussing those two incidents. I heard them before they knew I was there, and rather than eavesdrop, I just stepped into the conversation. Again, a bit of ribbing, but nothing mean or insulting.

I thought my boss was pretty cool about the whole thing, to my face. I mean, he's not exactly the most sensitive guy in the world, so its all relative. He didn't make me feel threatened, and I don't mind a little light humor in the least. I am certainly not thin skinned. Still, I am a little worried, that this topic would find its way into their conversation two mornings in a row.

Are they just curious? Do they already know everything? If so, how are they going to cope with me coming out more and more on the job? Was the joking with me on the first day experimental, to test my reaction? Or perhaps an attempt to tell me subtly that I need to be more careful?

My feeling is that they both know a lot more than they are telling me, and that the first mention was to test my reaction. However, I do think they would like it if I would be a little less "me" while I'm here. :P

Yesterday, we switched phone systems. My first go at recording a voicemail greeting was rushed. When I was learning the phones later in the the evening, I realized I needed a full message, and not just a name. As my hand hovered over the record button, my personal pride insisted that I push the envelope. The voice everyone will hear when I am not at my desk, is genuine, professional, and gregarious, but not the least bit male.


chrissie said...

"The voice everyone will hear when I am not at my desk, is genuine, professional, and gregarious, but not the least bit male. "

so just like you, then.... ;-)

Well done, Ms Shandy.


ms.shandy said...

Aww, thanks Chrissie! That just made my evening. :)

Amy K. said...

Way to go, Shandy! What you've written here really put a smile to my face. I dealt with the pre-transition hijinks in an office environment two years ago, but recently reprinted an old blog about it. It's called "Pushing the Envelope" if you haven't read it. I think you'd like it. I enjoyed hearing your little stories. :)

Leslie Ann said...

They would have to be very unobservant not to realize what's going on with you, but they are men, so it's not out of the question. Maybe they're just now starting to put it together. They don't seem disturbed by it, so...keep doing what you're doing!

Love ya, girlfriend!

Yvonne said...

Shandy I don't even know you and yet reading this I feel kinda proud of you. Well done, you're being true to yourself!

Y. xxx

Rebecca said...

I really enjoyed this post, and like Amy it also put a smile on my face. You go girl!


ms.shandy said...

Thanks so much for all your kind comments everyone! :)

@Leslie Thats so rude stereotyping men like that. That would be hard to say with a straight face, but I'm typing, so I don't have to! :P

@Rebecca So glad you got a smile out of the story. I always feel a little less lonely, knowing I have this blog as a connection to people who understand what I'm going through. Thanks for taking the time to stop by, and to comment too! :)

@Yvonne I'm just a crazy desperate person who never was brave enough to be myself. I'm still not brave enough. The only thing that changed is that after 30 years of trying, I ran totally out of restraint. ;)

@Amy I do remember that entry. It was pretty inspirational for me, because there are a lot of parallels with my current situation in there. I just read back through a bit ago. Its so exciting reaching out and exploring, after a lifetime of being afraid to be yourself. I think this is a period I'll always remember fondly, despite the awkwardness. ~XO~ =)

Jerica said...

This is awesome girl! I'm jealous, I'm seeing a voice therapist and hope to have something going in a few months. Till then it's just a little bit high pitched version of what I got =/

ms.shandy said...

My voice, is still very a much a work in progress Jerica. For some reason, I do pass 100% on the phone though. Its like I do something differently. I hope some day I can figure it out so that my voice works consistently though.

So funny! I was just telling a friend a moment ago that probably best case scenario for me is eventually sounding like a southern fried Fran Drescher. LOL!