Sunday, April 04, 2010

Revisiting A Very,Very Tired Conversation LOL

Picture if you will, a courtyard. An ocean of violets in bloom.  The animals strike curious poses.....  Oops, wrong scenario.

Okay, lets try again.

Picture if you will, a theatre.  A tranny is in the men's room.  Four teenage thugs strike curious poses.  They feel that she, that she is in the wrong room.

Oops, I'm sorry. My sense of humor can be a little quirky.  For those who missed it, the lyrics are a Prince reference.  Er, the top set.  The spoof version, I take full responsibility for, so throw the tomatoes this direction.  I love 'em!   I think a Prince song just popped into my head because this story happens to hinge around androgyny. :P

Alright, and now on to the story. Seriously!

A few weekends back, I was in London, Kentucky with friends.  While we were out shopping around, we decided to go catch a movie.  Eventually everyone settled on "She's Out Of My League", and after the tickets were purchased we made our way to the refreshments counter.

I was pretty close to home, due for laser, and traveling light.  So I had elected to go as a guy.  It was very obvious that my presentation was suspicious at best.  I had received lots of odd looks at a Cracker Barrel restaurant earlier that day, and had been addressed "ladies" by the waitress.  That sort of thing is great for my confidence, because my goal in guy mode is really not to pass fully, but rather to get by.

Inside the theatre, I was getting tons of weird looks, which I really didn't mind.  No one seemed threatening.  Then something happened that made me think.

I went t the restroom about half way through the movie.  All the shows had started within a few minutes of each other, and were all right in the middle of their run time.  The lobby was mostly desserted, but there were employees around and it  felt pretty safe.

As I have done all my life, I stepped into the men's room in men's clothes, without any consideration.  As I rounded the corner inside, I was shocked by the sight of four rough looking teen guys.  One was pointing a small knife in the direction of another, and one had his head in the sink.

As they noticed me round the corner, the knife quickly disappeared into a pocket and one of the guys began shaking the one with his head in the sink to get up.  The other two were both looking at me like I shouldn't be there. One of them opened his mouth to speak, but then stood quietly, still looking in my direction.

My heart was racing.  This situation didn't feel safe. These were just kids, but they looked like absolute thugs.  The knife was probably just out to carve something into a wall or something, but still they were staring at me, and they had a weapon somewhere.  At least it was a good sign that they had put it away.

I had an option at this point. Turn and walk out, or walk past to get to a stall.  I felt myself wanting to back up to the door and leave.  For some reason though, after a moment I found myself walking past as they observed me curiously.  I was still terrified, but trying hard to look like I belonged there.

As I closed the stall door, they all began to laugh and someone said "That dude looked like a girl!"  My fear started to subside.  I've seen kids offended by my appearance, and I've seen kids who simply think I'm a big joke.  These kids didn't show any signs of that fear driven transphobic hatred, but instead an amused curiosity.  I tried to hold on to that thought as I sat protected only by four thin metal walls and a puny bathroom stall latch.

Everything went quiet, and I waited to step out.  First I glanced around the floor through the gap around the bottom of the stall wall.  There was no sign of them, so I quickly made my way back to the lobby.

The rest of night went a lot better but this experience left me with lots of questions.  What if those guys had been the sort who would react violently to someone like me?  They could have chosen to kill me as quickly as they chose to put the knife away.   They were pretty sure the restroom was safely deserted or they would not have picked it as a hangout probably.

On the bathroom question, I have always thought it is simple.  If you are presenting male, with any degree of success, I figured you should be in the men's room.  If you are presenting female, and people are accepting that in their interactions, you should be going to the women's room.  They were simple rules, but have served me well until now.

But what happens, when you are at a point where you can't always present as female, yet can't pass consistently as a male?  I think right now, depending on distances, angles, and variables that shift from day to day, I can be perceived as anything from a very effiminite male, to an obvious transexual, to a tall woman with strange fashion sense.

I guess the obvious answer would be to go full time if I can't consistently pass as male.  But with my employment situation as it is, that has major financial risks.  Especially before I finish laser, I consider it a bad idea.

I suppose really all I can do for now is do guy mode in unfamiliar places only when it's necessary, be mindful of how my presentation is working on any given day, and just be careful of the possible consequences.

I'm looking forward to a day when I don't have to worry about it anymore.


Lori D said...

This is a great post and an excellent example of some of the harsh realities when we choose to make our way to presenting and living full time. Being "half-way" or "Most of the way" there means that you're going to get called out, just because you're too far on that side of most people's binary that it wigs them out.

I had so many frightening bathroom incidents like you described it's not a funny thing to endure. I hope others who consider transition understand that eventually they're not going to be comfortable (nor are others) even when they just need to pee. Plan on going for it and eventually presenting as your target gender more often than nought.... the electrolysis and HRT effects are going to give off more gender cues to strangers than you might think.

Glad you're writing more. I dig it :)

Véronique said...

Glad you came through that incident OK! Scary indeed.

I was lucky that I was "part time" only for about five months, and I had only amusing incidents with men's washrooms. I made a lot of use of unisex "family" washrooms during that time, when I could find them. There need to be more!

Leslie Ann said...

Well, I hope you've finally gotten all these bathroom stories out of your system. Number one was refreshing, number two was moving, but now it's time to dump this flow of anecdotes.

Is this the tail end of your steady stream of bathroom stories? I hope so, but please mind your pees in queues.

Love ya, girlfriend!

Tina said...

I disagree with Leslie completely! I love the bathroom stories. This could evolve into something like the "walks in a bar" jokes. Ex: "A Trans-girl and a Priest walk in a bathroom...." Can't you just see the possibilities? :D

On the serious side (like I have one), It is good to share the not so glamorous and sometimes dangerous, reality side of being Transgendered. The world can be scary, but the smart girl can increase her odds for sure. :)

Keep writing girl, like Lori said, I'm lovin' it!

Peace Out,
<3 Tina

Common Teri said...

Scary situation to be sure. A good reminder of how dangerous androgyny can be. Forget what an uncomfortable experience that was. Rewarding to be seen as a woman in man's clothes yet risky if you're as a feminine male.

Be safe. Hope you find a workable solution to your job situation.

ms.shandy said...

@Lori Thanks for stopping by! I think you are right. Its something people need to be very aware of. Transition is a long journey, with some awkward periods. Nothing happens over night and no matter how carefully you plan, syncing up your presentation change at work and elsewhere with the physical changes can be pretty tricky.

@Veronique I think I've had a very skewed view of my male passibility until now. If some odd looks or something made me think of it I was always like "Me, not pass as a guy? Now that's optimistic!" It's actually very flattering that I can't pass anymore. I'm totally thrilled! I do wish I were comfortable officially coming out at work though. Until I finish laser I don't have the confidence anyway though, so I guess we'll see what happens. :)

@Leslie Hello! This story has knives, and thugs. This is no place for potty puns. I should never have made you privy to my blog. I'm so angry I'm absolutely flush. Now scat!

@Tina Ok So a tranny and a pirate walk into the men's room. The pirate says "Ahoy lass, ye missed yonder sign. This be the men's room." Don't you love jokes with no punchline at all?

@Terri Work might come out fine. I'm a little scared to find out. I think they have me pegged though already.

NickyB (aka the CFG) said...

When I came out at work, I was officially told by my HOUR manager that "40% already knew".
So yes, they probably already do.

I was trying to remember my own "incident" to post here... it was at an airport, I think.
These guys shouted "hey, you need to be next door!", then "hey, he/she has got the same suitcase as you!".

These kind of things used to mortify me, I mus admit, but you may be more 'thick-skinned'.

I think it comes down to something I told a friend in a similar situation recently:
"If you want to pass as a guy, try to look like one".
Chances are, you're not making enough effort to pass as a guy!
Now, if the thought of even trying that horrifies you, then you need to be very very careful where you go and what you do. There are some crazy folk around. Seems like we're gonna need to wait another 50years before society understands more than the gender binary.
But I digress...
OR, you could just start going to laser as the "full" REAL YOU. Why not? Your features are good enough, so put on loads of eye makeup, and keep the rest of your face clear. Then if necessary, gently use an electric pocket shaver after your appointment, and don't let having laser dictate your life any more.

A great post :-)

Anonymous said...

Wow, I am glad you got out of there ok.
It is something I have had on my mind now for a few months.
I am permanantly in womens clothes (except work) but they are andro in appearance. I dont wear makeup with the clothes but do style my hair a little soft.
I have had many weird looks in the toilets and on a couple of occasions men have wlaked in as I am washing my hands and walked out thinking they were in thw rong toilet.
When they get back in they seem to want to make amends and go overboard on the "hello Mate" thing.
I dont know weather I should cry or laugh but I know it does make me feel uncomfortable.
I know I cant yet use the ladies as it would present even more challenges, so i often limit my drinking, and go just before I leave home to reduce the problem.

Jerica Truax said...

Wow girl that is scary! I'm not sure what I would've done. When you gotta go, ya gotta go. hehe. *hugs*

Glad you are still passing for a girl without trying hehehe

<3 Jerica

ms.shandy said...

@Nicki The airport thing does sound a bit scary, and caught in between there is so much potential for things to happen that can range from terrifying to embarrassing. You're right about my not trying hard enough to pass as anything resembling a normal male. I'm not sure I can make myself do it anymore though, so I guess I have to go with the "very careful" advice for now. :)

@Lisa It can get pretty hectic, but it sounds like you are doing just great. I'm pretty lucky at work, in that most of the staff restrooms are single user, and we have a very tiny staff with everyone knowing everyone else. When I'm away from home in guy mode I do get some very odd looks though in restrooms. I would try to limit my restroom trips out and about too, but taking spironolactone makes it incredibly hard to do. :P

@Jerica I don;t consistently pass as a girl without trying, just sometimes. Really right now, when someone who hasn't met me sees me, there's no way to even guess how they will interpret the odd combination of cues, when I'm in guy mode. I have to be ready for pretty much any greeting from ma'am to sir, or sometimes someone who will try to avoid saying anything gender specific to me.

Thanks everyone for writing! =)