Another day, another source of anxiety

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So has this popped up in your Facebook, Twitter or Reddit feed yet?

It’s shown up two or three times for me already, and it’s frustrating, and then then I think about it a little bit here and there thought the day, and it becomes downright depressing..

“Oh look, another gorgeous, perfectly stealth trans woman that thinks the bigots even notice her.”

The trans woman in that selfie passes for female, 100% stealth. Full stop.

Regardless of how absurd the HB2 law in North Carolina is to most of us, it never would have actually applied to her. For her, HB2 as it exists today is literally unenforceable. For me though, it’s a very real fear/anxiety every time I use a public restroom.

Nobody would ever notice if she went in there, unless she decided to go out of her way to draw attention to herself… like taking a selfie and posting it online. And for all the “allies” out there… remember that there are always second and third order consequences.

Is the HB2 law bullshit? I sure think so. But this trans woman has now basically validated the outrage and hate of the closed minded people who think this law is necessary to help with “protecting their children.” Those people now have something to point to, they have a target, and will just be even more angry and violent about it.

Bigots won’t stop being bigots because of this selfie.

And all people, supportive of trans rights or not, that see this selfie will be just a little bit more unsure and scrutinizing of possible trans people in public.

I’ve already seen it, just shopping at Costco this afternoon.

I don’t pass perfectly like she does, and I never will. I’m 5’10” with a torso like a linebacker, square jaw, massive nose, prominent Adam’s apple, and basically flat chested even after 6 years on HRT; yay genetics. I stand out wherever I go, even when I try as much as possible to just blend in. That’s just the genetic lottery. This trans woman may have lost the “big” lottery by being born trans (and not CIS) in the first place, but she clearly won enough smaller lotteries to pass “stealth” the way she does. I lost all the genetic lotteries, and thanks to this stranger, I get to be reminded of that in public (and on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc.) a little bit more than normal for a few days or weeks now.

It’s just a reminder to me that even among trans people there’s still huge variance among individuals experience.

And none of us has the right to cause extra stress or harassment for anyone else.

Tranny, she-male, trap, etc.

Some day I plan on writing a post (or series of posts) about the many problems and issues of trying to “date” while being trans, but in the meantime, I wanted to write a little about the topic of trans slurs. Like most nerds these days I use Reddit for a variety of reasons, and in response to one post someone sent me the following message:

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So first, yes, the terms “tranny” and “she-male” are generally considered offensive, and yes they’re even offensive to me. I don’t use them much in my day to day life except when I’m bordering on panic, or having a breakdown. They only really come out in my daily life as a result of all the crippling/overwhelming anxiety and shame I live with.

In my online life however, I’m trying to use them as a kind of “acceptance therapy” if that makes sense.

I’m not female (genetically I’m not 46,XX) and I lost both the socio-economic and genetic lotteries; I wasn’t able to transition before puberty, or be raised/socialized as a normal girl. And after 6 years now on hormones I still don’t pass for female, so it’s safe to assume I never will. I also wasn’t born into a country with socialized health care, so the likelihood of ever affording surgery is almost nil.

So I have to find some way to be ok with the fact that to the vast majority of people, I’m a freak; I’m just a man in drag, trying to “invade” women’s spaces.

I’m just a “tranny.”

Quick aside, if you really want to argue this, go read up on “HB2” just signed into law in North Carolina. This isn’t the first or last time anti-trans laws will be codified.

And sure, other people have (and will continue to) use these words/slurs with the explicit intention of hurting me. Though it’s much more common online (It happened at length back when I was hardcore playing “Lord of The Rings Online”) than in person; in real life it’s usually more subtle, a cashier of waitress will shift to gender neutral (or sometimes outright male) pronouns “hey guys” instead of “hey ladies” if I’m around.

One day in particular I’ll never forget…

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Three years ago, just a normal day out to lunch with my mom, we go to a local diner (like a Denny’s) and the hostess greets us, “Hi lad-” she literally stops mid-word, pauses and recovers, “Hi guys.”

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Other times it’s more subtle, the hostess or cashier won’t stop mid word, but will change to gender neutral for any subsequent interaction. That happens so frequently that trying to remember every instance is impossible.

This is why “Hi guys” is just as upsetting to me as outright slurs; it’s subtle, and nuanced, and it strips me of my identity in a seemingly polite way. It’s another way for people to tell me, “You’re a fraud, you don’t fool me, I know you aren’t female.”

As one therapist told me a couple years back, I’ve developed borderline agoraphobia from this.

That’s reality for me, even living in the greater Los Angeles area, one of the most “progressive” and LGBT friendly areas in the world.

So at least if I’m up front about it and use these slurs to describe myself, it dulls the pain ever so slightly when someone uses them with the intent to harm. Maybe it even cuts off some would-be harassment attempts before they begin, I don’t know.

Another ordinary day?

While I don’t really want to write about being transgender, it doesn’t seem like my obscure writing about tech is ever going anywhere. I’m never going to be a part of that “cool kids club” of tech bloggers (e.g. Serenity Caldwell, Rene Ritchie, Jason Snell, et.al.) so what can I do with my time?

And today I saw this tweet in my timeline by a trans woman (presumably) in tech, being retweeted by a prominent “tech-celebrity”/”influencer” that I follow.

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And it immediately made me uncomfortable. How would I talk about my life experiences pre and post transition? I can’t pretend to know what CIS-women go through, because I’m not CIS.

It got me thinking about all the little ways that my life is a struggle. I’m not female; nobody views me that way. I’m a third gender that’s basically non-human, even in one of the most socially progressive states in the country.

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I’m with my mom, visiting the Apple Store today, she’s looking for a case for her new iPhone SE. The store isn’t busy, there’s easily 4-5 employees talking amongst themselves, not helping any customers.

Nobody greets us or asks if they can help us. We have to actively seek out someone to see if they have the leather case in the color she wants. The employee forgets about us, so my mom flags down another employee. I walk around and browse the Apple Watch display, two employees are talking together one table away. Neither one asks if I have any questions or want to try one on. They do greet and help a young woman and her male friend (boyfriend?) find replacement watch bands.

I keep browsing, this time the iPad Pro. Another woman is there, trying out a 12.9″ model with the Smart Keyboard, an employee walking past asks if he can help her, then moves on when she declines. I pick up a 9.7″ model to try out, then a 12.9, then move to one with the keyboard attached. Nobody ever says a word to me. Eventually my mom and I leave, they didn’t have the case in the Navy Blue color she wanted.

While our visit was short (20 minutes maybe?) nobody ever acknowledged that I was there.

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This was a good day, I was just “invisible” to the people there, or at least they were polite enough to act like it. Some days, a lot of days, are far worse.