Monthly Archives: December 2013

New Year, Familiar Thoughts

As the New Year draws ever closer, I am inevitably reminded of time passing and, as cliché as it may sound, I find myself reflecting on my goals, hopes, and dreams. I often feel like my life is sort of in pause mode and I am waiting to hit play… waiting for the medical/bureaucratic aspects of my transition to start, or waiting for a job that I actually want to be doing, or waiting for grad school, or waiting to feel more settled in home life and relationships… I am trying to find ways to live in the here and now, ways to remind myself that I don’t have a pause and a play button, it’s now or never. I know it’s kind of silly, but the New Year feels like a chance for a fresh start, a new chapter; I find myself making commitments or hoping for things like, this will be the year I start testosterone, or this will be the year I legally change my name, or this will be the year I officially come out to my family, or this will be the year I propose to my partner (more later on this), or this will be the year I start grad school, or this will be the year I lay out plans for/finish researching/find partners for my dream of starting a grassroots, community-based, social justice advocacy non-profit, or this will be the year I get hired for a job I love… Who knows if any of these things will come true, but it’s nice to dream and feel hopeful about them.

I’ve been thinking about marriage a lot lately. The concept of marriage and I have had a very unstable relationship. I used to not even question the idea I would get married, and then my parents got divorced and I kind of dismissed it as something that would never happen to me, but then as it sank in and marinated a little bit I realized I was terrified of a failed marriage and vowed to never get married, this vow was strengthened as I continued on in my educational career and learned about things like heteronormativity, homonormativity, and privilege and oppression, and then I started thinking about what if my partner or I was ever in the hospital and the hospital staff wouldn’t let the other in because we weren’t officially married, or what about if we ever wanted to have kids, how would that work? In a system that is stacked against us, it might be nice to take an ideological stand and never officially wed, but if doing so means facing fewer bureaucratic difficulties than we would otherwise, it may be a luxury our self/couple care can’t afford. While I was trying to sort out these thoughts, I stumbled upon this article about the privilege that allows someone to make the choice to not get married, and I started thinking, “yea, it’s possible to have a queer marriage, choosing to get married doesn’t make us the poster children for homonormativity.” So then I started thinking, maybe marriage wasn’t a horrible idea… I mean if I love my partner and we want to have a party with our friends and family to celebrate that fact, and it might make navigating bureaucratic situations a little bit easier – why not, right? There’s still the part about me being misgendered when/if we do have an official marriage, but the system is going to misgender me whether or not I’m married, so why should that be the deciding factor?

Anyway, besides all of those ruminations, there’s a new puppy in our lives. Baby Emma is bringing joy to me and my partner as well as her big sister, Xochìtl. Her other big sister, Frida the cat, is not so sure, but we think she’ll come around. There’s no feeling quite like having a sleeping puppy in your arms, and we know Emma is going to make a great playmate for Xochitl. Plus, my partner and I get the chance to further refine our parenting skills, bonus! We just gotta watch out for those teeth and potty accidents.

That’s all for now, until next time…

Updates and Things

Hi Everyone,

So an interesting development in the work drama saga: I have learned that I legally have the right to only have my preferred name appear on things like the schedule and the time clock at work. I’m not sure about the specifics on this exactly, but if anyone does know about them, I would greatly appreciate the info! I am going to wait until after the holiday season, when I will *hopefully* no longer be a “part-time, seasonal” employee to ask again that my preferred name be the one printed on the schedule and in the time clock. I’m going to wait because as a “part-time, seasonal” employee, I can be let go at any time and without the managers having to give me a reason. But I’m pretty sure they have to list their reasons for letting go of people who are not seasonal, and it’s illegal to fire someone because they’re trans*, so I’ll wait until I have that protection… of course, they could just list another reason for firing me, but at least I feel like my position is a little bit more secure that way.

In other news, my partner just gave me a haircut! It was getting way too long and all over my face. It’s a big relief having it short again. It’s only been a few days but I’ve really noticed that acquaintances or people I don’t know very well seem to be a bit colder toward me… It’s not like my hair was THAT much longer before, but now that it’s shorter it’s almost like people are looking down on me for moving in the opposite direction of normative gender conformity. And I realize that maybe I’m imagining this, maybe it’s just been a coincidence that the people around me have been in bad moods, but as a friend of mine once said, “someone could be looking at me funny because my shoe is untied or because I have food on my face, or maybe they’re looking at someone else entirely, but my brain is always going to go straight to “I wonder if they’re looking at me because I’m trans*.” I dread comments like, “oh your hair looks nice but I liked it longer.” Because for me, it’s a matter of feeling comfortable, of not feeling anxious every time I look in a mirror. I cut my hair because I wanted to, not because I was looking for anyone’s approval.

As I settle more and more into the fact that I’m probably not going to find a job doing social justice/community-based/gender equity type work until after I attend grad school, and that until then I’m going to be stuck working somewhere I’m not thrilled about, I’m trying to prioritize having fun. So I’m hanging out with friends, making new friends, reading for pleasure, writing for pleasure, and brainstorming free ways to enjoy my time outside of work. Having pets really helps because they keep me busy, get me moving, and love to cuddle <3. If I don’t prioritize these things, I find myself moping around feeling sorry for myself, dwelling on the bad things in my life, as opposed to thinking about all the great things in my life. So, here’s to de-stressing, strengthening relationships, and learning to enjoy life.

That’s all for now, Until next time…

Questioning

I have been thinking quite a bit, as usual, about my gender identity and presentation and how I would/will feel most comfortable. I have been questioning myself a bit more than usual lately. I’m usually plagued by thoughts of “what if I start hormone therapy and I don’t feel this way in 5 years or 10 years, etc.” Recently I’ve started thinking about the fact that if I start hormone therapy and if sometime in the (distant) future I was able to somehow find the money for top surgery, that I would start passing as a man. As someone who identifies as a non-binary trans* person, I struggle with the idea of being read consistently as a woman or a man. Currently I am mostly read as a woman, a situation that I’m not happy with… but would I really be happy being mostly read as a man? Probably not… but if I’m going to be misgendered either way, wouldn’t it be better for me to at least feel less dysphoric, and more like my presentation/body match my gender identity? I’ve also been questioning whether or not I desire to be more masculine of center in my presentation because of my romantic/sexual preferences. Admittedly, my preferences are not super clearly defined, they have ranged far and wide; however, I would say that more often than not, they tend toward femme individuals… and as someone who has grown up in a society where the dominant narrative insists that femme people are supposed to be with masculine people, I worry that this has affected my feelings about my gender. Because, our preferences/tendencies do not exist in a vacuum, they were/are formed and/or at least influenced by the society(ies) we grow up in… These are the questions I’m currently grappling with.

Until next time…

The Work-Challenges Saga Continues

Hey Everyone,

So I haven’t even BEEN to work today and I’m already so fired up that I just have to write about it. SO, something I haven’t really talked about yet, but that has been an ongoing problem for me is my name situation. It’s a challenge in many ways in my life but for right now I’m just going to talk about how it’s a challenge for me at work.

Let me start by saying the managers at work have almost always (except for once) called me Lane, and they printed Lane on my name tag (so far, so good). However, whenever the weekly schedule (the one that says who is working what hours for the whole week), or the daily schedule (the one that lists everyone who’s working that day and when their breaks are), are printed, they always list my birth name. The daily schedule has always been the one I’ve had more of a problem with, at the start of every shift, the first thing I do is go cross out my birth name on the schedule and write Lane. I learned to do this when I was paged by my birth name, over the loud speaker one time, and then a few co-workers connected the dots and started jokingly calling me my birth name. A choice quote from one of them was “That’s forever burned in my brain.” “Great,” I thought. Luckily it mostly blew over, and I started crossing out my birth name and things were peachy for a while. Until one day, when I wasn’t working, my partner came home and told me that during her lunch break, the topic of names had come up in the break room and someone told everyone my birth name and then they all started debating which name they liked better. As triggering as that was to hear, I was really glad that I hadn’t been there because that would have been really hard to sit through.

I didn’t think the weekly schedule was such a big deal, up until a week ago, because people just mostly look at their own schedule, right? WRONG. So, because they’ve started doing the layoffs at work, everyone has gotten in the habit of checking everyone else’s schedule to see who’s been fired. That’s been really great for me because the people who don’t know my birth name have all tried to console me over getting fired when they didn’t see Lane listed on the schedule and the people who do know my birth name have so helpfully volunteered the information to some of the people who didn’t know. AWESOME. My partner came home today and told me that one of our co-workers said asked her if my birth name is my “real name” today. She replied “that’s Lane’s birth name.” The co-worker then had all kinds of questions to which my partner just kept saying “Lane’s name is Lane.” She asked me what I would prefer be her response in those situations, after thinking about it for a while, I said “If someone asks you if my birth name is my real name, just say no.” She struggled with that a bit, and I said “it’s none of their business, they don’t get to demand that answer. So they’re confused. I don’t care.”

All of this just really sucks because after I was outed at work (a story for another time), and then I confirmed the fact to my managers, they said I could come to them with any concerns, ever. They really emphasized that no concern was too small. I was like “awesome, it seems like they actually care.” Silly me. I went to them a few weeks ago, asking if it was possible for them to change my name in the system. The store manager said he thought so. A few days later, one of the other managers announced to me, in front of other associates, I might add, that it wouldn’t be possible. The next day the store manager told me he was still working on it, despite what the other manager had told me. The next day, when I punched in, the computer said Lane. I was overjoyed! I felt like I was floating for that whole shift. But the following day when I punched in, it was back to saying my birth name and it has since. So, I’m left to guess that it’s not possible. In a fair world, this wouldn’t be my concern, it would be the concern of my manager’s, trying to make me comfortable so that I could do the best work that I am capable of. However, we don’t live in the world. So, for now I will run to the daily schedule at the start of every shift to cross out my birth name and write in my chosen name, and work with anxiety in the back of my mind, hoping that a co-worker doesn’t joke about my name today, and that someone else doesn’t put my partner on the spot to answer demands about my identity.

That’s all for now, until next time…

Gendered Policies Are a Struggle

Hi Everyone,

So the past few days have been somewhat eventful. I was approved for a medical discount card for use at our local clinic, so now I can have a doctor or dentist appointment and only have to pay $30! Now I just have to wait until we have $30 extra in our budget, which should be in a couple of weeks as long as everything at work keeps going well. Speaking of which, both my partner and I made it past the first and second round of layoffs! Now we just have to keep our fingers crossed that we don’t get laid off after the winter holidays and things should be alright! However, they have started scheduling us for progressively fewer hours which is concerning because we are going to have to get second jobs if this is the new norm… which will be no mean feat, considering that we don’t have regular schedules at our current job and they don’t put up the following week’s schedule until the middle of the week. They say that’s going to change, but my partner and I don’t really have that much time to wait for the scheduling to get more predictable.

I got called in to work earlier than my shift was supposed to start because someone called in sick. I was not really thrilled about starting work earlier but I was happy that we would at least have a little bit more money to add to our budget. Unfortunately, the person who called in sick was scheduled to work in the fitting rooms… “why is that unfortunate?”, you might ask. Well, the company we work for has a gendered policy about who is allowed to work in the fitting rooms: only women employees are allowed to be the fitting room attendants. The reasoning behind this is that, apparently, it’s alright for women to go in the men’s fitting room, but it’s not alright for men to go in the women’s dressing room (who knows about non-binary folks, we are left to guess what this means for us, as usual). I’m not going to get into the complicated implications behind this policy right now, because while it is a valuable conversation, it is not the point of this post. The point here is that, I have told my managers I am trans* (well, I was mostly outed to them and I just confirmed that it is true) and yet they schedule me to work in fitting rooms, where “only women are allowed to work”)… Not only do I feel like this goes against their policy but I also feel uncomfortable working there. As a non-binary trans* person, people are often unsure of my gender identity, based on my presentation. Typically, once they hear me speak they decide that I must be a woman because of the way my voice sounds (I assume). This means that gendered areas are tricky for me, if I choose the women’s area, I am often glared at, people do double takes, people visibly make it clear they don’t want to come near me, and sometimes I am informed that I am in the women’s area (as in, “shouldn’t you be in the men’s area?”). And I don’t really know what happens if I choose the men’s area because I’ve only worked up my courage to do it once or twice and it gives me so much anxiety and fear that I don’t think it’s worth it. So, as it is I currently try to wait until no one is in the fitting rooms to run back and check that they’re clean and/or do the cleaning. As you might imagine, this is an anxiety-riddled experience. Now some of you might be asking, “why don’t you just tell your managers you don’t feel comfortable working there?” and believe me, I have considered it. However, I am worried that telling them that just adds to my list of complications, and is therefore another reason to lay me off. So, for now, I’ll just do it. It’s just another example of how trans* people’s identities are often invisibilized/trivialized etc.

Well, I guess that’s all for now.

Until next time…

Work Stressors

Today I worked an 8-hour shift that felt as if it were more like 10. Nothing really of note except near the end of my shift, a customer stopped me and said “Excuse me… sir? Miss? Ma’am? I’m sorry, I’m not really sure what you are…” I responded with a smile and waited for the inevitable question about a certain product’s location. Once the customer realized I wasn’t going to answer the question about my gender identity and which title I go by, they asked the question and I was able to help them find what it was that they were looking for. I felt flustered at the time, and reflecting on it, I feel somewhat angry, which I find interesting because I typically enjoy when I cause people to second guess their assumptions gender. However, upon further reflection, I think part of my anger stems from the fact that we have this seemingly needless gendered title as part of our engrained greeting custom and I just feel like it’s so pointless… why? Why do we have to address someone with a gendered title? Why couldn’t it just be “excuse me”? That seems just as effective to me… Because I don’t go by sir, miss, or ma’am, so it’s not like the inclusion of any of those titles is what caught my attention, it was the “excuse me” and the look of inquiry upon the person’s face…  I think the other part of my anger stems from embarrassment. Because as much as I like making people question their assumptions about gender, I recognize that in front of other people, who may or may not hold the same assumptions about gender as the person who is questioning me, I feel vulnerable when my presentation is being questioned. I don’t know if the people who are witnessing the event are going to join in with the questions, which at times can feel like demands for answers about my gender identity, or if they are going to feel like the questions/demands are ridiculous and come to my aid. So I am left feeling vulnerable, awkward, frozen, stuck, panicky, anxious, scared, and embarrassed. And that feeling, after it is left to stew in my head for a bit turns into anger. It all sounds/feels a bit irrational to me now that I write it down, but then again, emotions and gender aren’t really all that “rational”… and come to think of it, where did I get this sense that rationality is the end all be all? I smell hegemony. I feel like it’s probably related to the way dominant discourse values science and scientific thought above other “lesser” forms of viewing/thinking about/processing the world such as religion and religious thought or art or community processes etc. which, of course, are all valid, valuable ways of viewing, thinking about, and processing the world. Humph.

After that incident, it was mostly all I could think about and I worry now that I may have ignored or avoided other customers because I was stuck in my own head, replaying that scenario and trying to figure out how I felt and why… which is especially worrisome today, and for the rest of this week because my position is temporary/seasonal and this next week is when the last round of lay-offs are happening, which means the pressure is onnnn.

That incident rekindled a cyclical worry for me that maybe the company is going to fire me simply because of the way I look, without factoring in my performance at all, because perhaps they don’t want to have to worry about customers potentially feeling uncomfortable with an employee whose gender identity is not immediately obvious to them…

Ughhhh if I were to lose this job, my partner and I will have a really hard time paying rent.. not to mention for food, vet bills, medical bills (I have to go see if I can get my broken tooth fixed and she had some medical bills come up that she thought she had already paid!), etc.

Well, for now I’m still employed and we are still keeping our heads above water. Fingers crossed I make it past next week!

Until next time…

Hello

I’m Lane. I am a white, low-income, queer, atheist/agnostic (raised Catholic), currently able-bodied, non-binary, masculine-of-center trans* persyn who was Assigned Female At Birth (AFAB). I am 21 years old and I have a Bachelor’s Degree in International Relations from the University of California, Davis. Why am I telling you all these things? Because I think it is important to contextualize my story by letting you know my various identities, which come with privileges or lack thereof, which have defined my life experiences. I would like to write a blog detailing my story as a person who holds all of these identities because I hope that people who hold some of the same, or similar, identities to mine might read and relate to some of my experiences and possibly not feel so alone. I think the mass media does not value the stories of trans*, queer, and low-income people as much as it values the stories of straight/heteronormative, cisgender, and the middle and upper class, because those identities have traditionally been the ones the mass media sees as normal/default. I also think that the mass media does not value the stories of people of color and disabled people, among other identities, as much as it values the stories of white people and able-bodied people, again for the reasons listed previously. I recognize that in those aspects I do hold privilege, and I would like to again state that my story and experiences are very much influenced by the fact that I am white and currently able-bodied. I would also like to state that I am not attempting to claim that my story represents all queer, trans*, or low-income people, in the same way that I am not attempting to claim that my story represents all white, atheist/agnostic, and able-bodied people. My story is just that, MY story, it represents me and only me.

Now, for a few blog logistics: 1) I am going to try to post once a week, I may post more if something urgent/exciting/infuriating etc. occurs, and I may post less if I am short on time, need to prioritize other parts of my life, or don’t have internet access. 2) I strive to be as inclusive and non-oppressive with my language as possible, if something strikes you as oppressive in anyway, and you have the time and/or energy and/or passion and/or caring and/or motivation etc. to let me know, I would love to hear your feedback and get the opportunity to grow/learn (again, no pressure, just if you feel the urge!). 3) I will try to post trigger warnings at the beginning of every post for the things I think may be triggering, I recognize that there may be triggers that I do not think of, and if I have missed one, and you have the time and/or energy and/or passion and/or caring and/or motivation etc. to let me know, again, I would love to hear your feedback and be able to make my blog more reader-friendly (again, no pressure!).

Other than that, thanks for reading! If you have questions/thoughts/comments/concerns etc., I’d love to receive them!

Until next time…