Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Awkwardness! :P

I went to work this morning and my boss asked me to call someone at one of our vendors.  After a 10 minute phone call, he offered to email some documentation.

The email never came, and eventually me and my boss continued research on our own.  I was sitting in my boss's office when the vendor called him.  He had tried calling me, but we had not heard the phone in my office.

Listening to my boss's side of the call, it was obvious the email had come back undeliverable. "It's shannon.blah@blah.com" my boss said.

I knew what had happened right away.  On the phone people mishear Shannon, as Sharon all the time.  The boss corrected him, giving my real email, with my actual androgynous name, rather than the unquestionably female name Sharon, but he dodged using pronouns in discussing me for the entire conversation.

Was the boss just looking out for my feelings by leaving his impression of my gender or was he dodging an awkward correction?

He forwarded the email to my boss with the original wording, addressed and written to Sharon.

He really didn't seem too bothered by the whole thing and we worked the rest of the day without incident.

I'm still always flattered when I get evidence that people I talk to on the phone properly ascertain my gender...even when the circumstances are a little less than ideal.

Guess the time is coming for me to talk to my boss.  Everyone knows I think, but opening the conversation is of course my responsibility.  Just a matter of how and when and I suppose I'll think it out over vacation.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Presentation Changes: Update

My last post was on changing up my local presentation, and this is just a little follow up.  Saturday was pharmacy day, so I made my monthly 1 hour drive to the CVS I have used for the past year.  As usual, I didn't feel like presenting male to pick up my meds, and picked out a nice casual outfit.  Unlike usual, instead of changing and doing makeup in the car, I left the house  presenting the way I wanted, except for one extra shirt.  :P

Mom and Dad seemed okay with it, and sent me to run errands for them while I was out.  I picked up stuff for them at the local Dollar General.  One of the customers there thought I was an employee for some reason and started asking me where to find an item.  We chatted comfortably after I explained I wasn't an employee.  Guess I wasn't looking to scary!  When I got farther away from my home town I dropped the extra top and got to present properly.  Everything went as smooth as silk.

Monday, I decided that I didn't want to move backward in presentation and settled on making a fairly complete makeup job a regular part of my work look, since it went okay Friday.  Today went just as well, even though I added styled hair to the look.  My makeup held up to the hot work environment and no one said anything mean to me.

I had lunch at Dairy Queen and one of the newer employees who has only waited on me twice before was at the register. When I presented my credit card, a manager stepped over  to assist, and the clerk actually said "I've got her." Of course, people fail to use the pronoun they mean to on occasion, so it doesn't necessarily mean anything.  Did she actually perceive me as female, despite the baggy shirt and giant shoes?  

Last week, another girl there was teasing me about my hair, and came by my table a couple of days later to apologize and gave me a big hug.  My impression is that someone told her about me sometime after that encounter.  So maybe this other girl said her because thats what she saw, or maybe she said it because she knows my story, or maybe a little of both. :P

For the most part it was a good day.  I feel so much more confident wearing makeup, and it really takes stress out of my days and is fun in the mornings.   

I guess really, in the course I am on, being out and tolerated is just a short distance from full time and tolerated in my home town. That has always been a dream to me. I love the people here, and my family, and it would be so nice feeling like I still fit here. Eventually I want to be able to move somewhere that I can start over and go "stealth" as they say. I'd be a lot more comfortable somewhere that people aren't familiar with the way I was before; a clean slate where I can start anew, free to express myself without worrying about my former life effecting people's perception.

But it would be nice to always know I can come home and still be safe and welcome. Before I started transition, that felt out of reach. A I go it seems more plausible all the time.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Presentation Changes

For some reason I was feeling really brave yesterday.  Not only did I go crazy and post a v-log of me practicing singing at the far upper end of my vocal range, but I changed up my presentation at work!  

It started simply.  I had been talking to my friend Rebecca online a bit during the week, and I kept saying I was going to wear eye makeup to work.  Friday felt like a good day for it, so after I finished my usual morning routine, I opened the makeup kit and quickly added some mascara.  Then I couldn't stop!  I thought of how much more confident I would be with a little powder to even my complexion.  Then I had to add a little color back to my cheeks.  At that point the mascara was nearly set and it seemed silly not to have a bit of eye shadow, so I applied a reddish natural tone to the lids and brushed it outward.  Having done everything else, I decided my lips should match, so I put on a light coat of coral colored gloss.

In the end, some of my favorite London Jeans and a stretchy tank top ended up in the mix too, leaving no men's items in my look except the usual Doc Marten's and a seersucker button up, partially buttoned.  I felt a little nervous as I pushed open the door at work, but nothing really dramatic happened.  There were a few curious looks through the day, but not a word was said about it.  

I think I have pushed my work look as far as I possibly can without coming out now.  Which means I've given people as much warning as I really have a way to before the announcement.  On the 5th, I leave for a vacation in Maine with my family.  When I'm back, depending on how the laser treatment is holding up, I might open communication with management on the subject of my transition.

Looks like I do get another contract year, as the papers are  on my coffee table.  A lot can happen in that year.  Time will tell! :)

On a side note the co-worker who invited me out to lunch never asked any really personal questions.  "What are your future plans?" was as close to the subject as the conversation ever went.  Me and a few of the girls at the office have had lunch together three times since that invite, and my initial sense that she was trying to feel out what is going on with me has faded.  Now it feels more like they are just trying to include me, which is just incredibly sweet.  

Things are going well with my boss right now too.  The week started off rocky, with a disagreement over the allocation of some technology resources.  Long story but it ended up with me feeling disrespected and like my boss was siding with the other tech over me for invalid reasons, and with him feeling basically like the whole world was out to get him.  Wednesday he asked to talk with me and we went over our feelings on the whole thing.  We ended up leaving with a better understanding of each other's positions and there were apologies from both sides.  Since then, things have been much less stressful.

At one point we talked about training up one of our summer workers, maybe to fill a position in the future.  I said "It might be a good.  The board coud want rid of me at any time! Ha!"  He never asked why I would think that, and didn't blow off the comment as a joke either, though I phrased it as one.  He just said very seriosuly, "That won't happen.  As long as you keep doing your job.",  or something very near that in meaning.  

Hmm, keep doing your job.  I believe I will.... :)

Friday, June 25, 2010

V-Log 2: Vocal Work Out

This was jsut posted to youtube as a test. I was playing with the capabilities of my new phone and recorded myself "singing".  Then I decided to see how youtube publishing worked.  So it ended up online.  This is really really bad, I warn you in advance.  It's just one of the songs I use quite often to stretch the range of my voice.  I always sing it right at the upper end of my voice, the more I practice.  So, I always sound strained, since I'm vocally at the end of my rope through out.  Not to mention that I'm borderline tone deaf and don't pay a lot of attention to cadence.  A musician I am not.

The point though isn't sounding good. Its just exercising and trying to find your voice.  Actually speaking is really better practice, but this has its place I think. I feel its been beneficial for me at least.  The song is an old folk song I used to hear sometimes on an old Peter, Paul, and Marry LP.  Always found it lovely.  Though, not when I do it. :P

Anyway, sing in the shower, sing in the car!  Its therapeutic, it expands your voice, and its just good fun, even if you suck.

Oh, and I was in guy mode while I was playing with my phone so I look pretty rough.  Wow, I'm big on disclaimers, am I not?

Don't be too harsh.  :P

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


Boy 1:  Is that a girl?
Boy 2:  No, thats  a boy!
Boy 1:  Girl!
Boy 3:  Its a boy...A man!
Boy 1: Hey!  Are you a girl?

This exchange took place between three young 8-12 year old looking boys in the hall at work.   They had come with their parents now that school was out it seems, and none of them had seen me before.  At the time I had my hair pulled back in a tight low pony tail, and was dressed in my loose, crumpled male slacker garb.  

By the time the direct question came up, I was far enough down the hall to pretend I had not heard, or  had assumed they were talking to someone closer.

On another note, a friend has invited me out for lunch some time this week.  We used to work in the same building 3 years ago, but now our paths rarely cross at work.  The invite came while I was back at central office Monday.  Maybe its just meant to be a chance to catch up, but something tells me she's got questions.  If she asks, I'll probably answer honestly.  I'm just so ready to be out, and this could be the chance.

Looking back over the last few years, I never really had a plan at work, but the way things have happened, I've accidentally slowly tempered people and I don't think many would be surprised now.  Having people know before an official announcement would just relieve tension at this point.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Pomp and Circumstance

The last 9 days or so have been really eventful!  Last weekend, I had an amazing trip to Lexington.  My work week was wild, as school was winding down and there were lots of loose ends to tie up, and this weekend the seniors had their graduation.

Really, it was an unusually social week for me, and I'm very lucky that the weekend before it bolstered my self esteem. The stress would have been unbearable if I were still feeling the way I felt the last time I blogged.

Actually I did arrive in Lexington feeling pretty low when I reported for laser Friday night.  Saturday though, I got up and threw on the outfit pictured in my last blog, along with some 3 inch peep toe brown leather pumps to dress it up a bit.  I drove to Louisville and looked around St. Mathews mall and everyone treated me so normal.

Back in Lexington, everyone was really encouraging about my looks.  At one point in the Transkentucky meeting we discussed working in drab when people sort of have you figured out.  I chimed in and said I was basically out at work, and was going to launch into the story about my ex from way back telling me I had been spotted by some of her relatives in London.  But I never got to tell my story because as soon as I said I thought I was out at work, several people began to imply there was no way I could pass as a guy.  There were other reassuring moments too though, and by the end of the meeting, I was feeling confident and ready to take on the world.

At the meeting, I finally got to talk to Leslie, who I have missed a lot in past weeks and months.  But we didn't get to talk as long as I would have liked.  I also had the pleasure of meeting some really cool new people, including Sophie Hawes of the Freeing Hummingbirds blog.  It was a pleasure getting to talk with her  and she is every bit as charming and engaging in person as she is online.  Its always encouraging to get a glimpse ahead in the transition process too, which makes meeting her that much more interesting.  Full time, I can hardly wait!

Also... I got hit on at a gas station,  (twice almost actually) which made me feel a bit more normal and human.  After we chatted while we were pumping fuel, he pulled up beside my car while I was programming my GPS and asked if he could give me his phone number.  The whole thing was just very sweet.

Tina, Lisa and I had two great midnight cookouts with a charcoal grill and it was so nice getting to spend some time with them.  Tina got some hair styling done over the weekend and saw an electrologist.  I dropped by her salon and was treated really well.  Sylvia came as well and we both had a consultation with Tina's electrologist.  She was very kind, with lots of compliments and advice.  Really she reminded me of my friend Debbie, in that she seems to have a tendency to take trans girls under her wing.  Very motherly and sweet.  I'll probably use her services in the near future.

A neat weekend, seeing all my friends.  Seems a big year for everyone and its nice watching everyone grow and find their place.

When I got home, I felt like a different person.  This place doesn't seem so oppressive right now.  For weeks, my confidence has been battered, but last weekend it was bolstered.  I guess friends, normalcy, and encouragement are just emotionally healthy things. :P

Sunday morning my post laser break out came, and with a vengeance.  There were places on my face big enough to cast shadows quite literally, and my upper lip was a mass of sores.  Monday morning came and the skin was too delicate to shave still, so I reported to work with 3 days worth of patchy fried hair protruding from festering acne like follicles.  I got some odd looks, but it didn't bother me.  I just focused on my many blessings and the temporal nature of the problem.  I was grungy and male looking all week, but I never felt anything less than human, or less than a woman.

I ended up designing the banners for the graduation and setting up the camera and projector to project events on stage live.  I thought my contribution was pretty much over, but then I was asked to run the camera and help look after the projector.  The table with the projector, camera, and laptop for power points was right between the seating for the graduates and the teachers.  So basically, literally the very center of everything.  Down there with me most of the night, two gorgeous co-workers who actually got to dress appropriately for the occasion.  Dresses, heels, perfect hair.  There were feelings of inferiority and insecurity.  I guess there is still a part of me that just wanted to run away.  I think I managed it well though.  I still held onto my confidence, looking like a male scarecrow despite the huge audience, conspicuous placement and being surrounded by people who, generally make me feel ugly. LOL!

Actually, I still feel great. Skin is clear almost now, and the facial hair should shed from laser by Wednesday.  Depending on the results this time, I might be approaching my time to come out.  We'll see!