Sunday, 20 September 2015

How am I treated? Pt 1

So, for once I am not talking just about myself (although it is my blog so I guess it is allowed...). And I should warn you - it all sounds rather bleak at the beginning. But bear with it. It is all really positive in the end :)

One massive delay in starting my transition was my fear of how I would be treated. Not by those around me - I choose my friends carefully! So whilst I was nervous about their reactions, I was never worried that it would get grim. Same with family - I didn't choose them but I think we are all a likeable bunch-ish. Co -workers is a little different. Especially in my old job, I figured some may have made my life really awkward and been able to make things difficult so I only told a few people and kept my early transition in the closet at work. Again, I chose carefully. And I chose wisely.

But folks on the outside, regular people, those buggers everywhere. It was them I was scared of. As a young indie kid I constantly took abuse from the public. Wearing makeup, having pink hair - just being different - made some morons think that I was a fair target for abuse - both verbal and physical. And I was not really one for standing up for myself so I ended up with many black and busted eyes, etc. Luckily never anything bad as I was actually pretty good at taking a beating (which is something I put to good use when climbing - although maybe I should just learn to be more careful...).

As life went on I tried to blend more into the background. Stand out less. Just be a literal dark shadow passing by. Course, folks head to toe in black don't actually disappear into shadows and can tend to stand out just as much as having shoulder length pink hair.
I also got angry with the world at this stage and when someone gave me grief, I learnt to give it back. I am not violent. I just want to stand up for myself and not get beat on. I want to feel safe. And once I did, less bullies bothered to try it on.

But loosing up to a third of your muscle mass and becoming part of a minority well known for drawing physical abuse - well. That is not something you do lightly. Add that to the constant reports of rights violations against trans-folk, the lack of understanding in the world at large and the general way that trans-folk are ridiculed and despised and you have very little reason to want to put yourself out there. 

Except that you have to. Keeping it inside just screws you up. There are an increasingly brave number of youths that transition because they need to but for anyone older the truth is that many just cannot face that. Many see three options; bottle it up, let it out or escape in a very permanent way. The suicide rate is high, trans* deaths are high and everyday verbal and physical abuse is insane (compared to the average population). Make no mistake, the trans* community is fragile.

So I have my fear and I delay the inevitable (as I have no intention of giving up). I took strength from the many brave folks that went before me and I knew that being in Zurich (and, soon, the UK) as well as having an amazing group of friends meant that I was probably in a great place. I had the best chance I could have and I could not waste it. So, you know, I didn't.

I had been out a few times in the past and it was never quite so scary once you headed out the door. Course, I was with friends I knew would have my back and only heading to relatively safe places but it was all good. Heading out in the village was lovely. To be dressed how I felt was just amazing. Of course you have some strays that would laugh or shout although not usually at me so that was good (not so good for the girls who did get the grief though). And any odd stares were just kinda water off a ducks back. Plus I did get compliments and have creepy guys try it on so whilst those advances were not welcome it did let me think I was not some huge freak. Taxis were the only real worry - especially at the start of the night pre-alcohol but honestly they just let me get on with it.

I was not ready for the daytime though. Being in a safe place is one thing but the wide world is scary!!! I'd go shopping and draw odd glances. Some shop girls (I avoided the males) were nice and helpful. Some gossiped with others. My trips were all rather grab and dash resulting in awful choices and wrong sizes. I did, over time, get a little more confident. I would chat to the MAC staff about the best choices for me. I would try boots and shoes on in stores in the open. I sometimes tried stuff on. I got stares and probably drew more gossip but I kept it brief then got outta there. And it was all something of a rush. But I was never confident and it never felt comfortable.

After months of hormones I knew I had to tackle the wide world. Being a gothy-indie kid I was able to shift my clothing reasonably subtly without anyone really thinking anything of it. My jeans became girls jeans (well - all my jeans belonged to a girl, they were now also cut for girls). My vests became almost dress length. My tops became open necked. My shoes and scarves went pink and my boots became very cute as heck. But this all got me the question "why are you modelling yourself on Dracula?" as, when folks regarded me, this was the easier connection. Then I added nail varnish. Then eyeliner. My hair became styled and less untidy. Just bit by bit. And I went out with friends (who knew) like this. There were stares still but I was happy to have them. It just felt right and that gave me the confidence to just... be.

Eventually I finished my work contract and I went for it. A day out in full makeup. Scary as heck. I rushed away from my town where there may be someone that knew me and became more relaxed when I knew I was just a face in the crowd. As strange a face as it may be (nothing new there though). Annoyingly I was great at 'night-out' makeup but it turned out not so good at day makeup! Most people let me pass by but I stood out and I knew it. Still I was in one of the safest cities in the world and I never felt unsecure. I would get coffee and the barista would treat me like normal, despite clear recognition of my gender state. Which is all I wanted! 

And now i will give you a break. But the next post, well, it shows just how fine folks are. And why I should believe in humanity more!

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