“Hi, My name is Becca.” That statement said anywhere but online is incredibly hard. When I can accomplish it face to face, I fully expect to be receive a beating.
When I was in high school, my step dad brought home a border collie for Christmas. We named her Nickie. It quickly became apparent that she probably had a bad experience with men at her last home. She was only comfortable around women and would shy away or quickly crouch down if you moved your hand toward her to pet her. Never have I ever wanted an animal to have the capacity to read my mind more than I did with that dog. She eventually did warm up to us and grew to trust men again.
Looking back, I can relate to Nickie more and more. At a recent hack night at a friend’s house, I was persuaded to come out to a mutual friend. When she found out, I immediately put my head down, looked away and managed to get a meager “yeah” out of my mouth. When she acted stunned, I wanted to run away.
This morning, a friend sent me a link to a meet up for women interested in learning Ruby on Rails. The first paragraph in the description read:
“This workshop is intended to reach out to women developers who are new to Ruby and Rails. To register, you must identify as a woman. Men, you are welcome to come *if* you are a guest of a woman who has registered for the class.”
Although they didn’t specifically state that transgender women are welcome. It’s clearly implied. Beside being nervous that they would know more about programming than me, I’d feel extremely nervous walking in or introducing myself to these strangers as Becca. Would they ask me if I identified myself as a woman? Would the name Becca suffice? Would other people there walk out if I was there? Would I be ignored? Would people use male pronouns around me?
My friend Sarah often tells me “Keep your eye on the trail, not the cactus.” But if I do that, I won’t see the cactus when they attack!
Even at a place where I should feel completely accepted, The GLBT Center in Denver, I’m horrible. Every week, we have to introduce ourselves with our preferred name and preferred pronoun. When it’s my turn, I put my head down and kind of mumble “Becca. Female.” I won’t go to group in girl mode or change after I’ve arrived because I’m afraid what the people at the front desk will say. I’ve been told that they are very accepting and are told not to make any comments. I just can’t bring myself to trust them.
It’s not that I’m ashamed. Well, maybe I am. I can’t say I’m exactly proud of this aspect of myself. And why should I be proud? Everything I’ve seen throughout my life has taught me not to be proud.
*I was run down and beaten by grocery workers while out for a walk.
*I was harassed and improperly touched by officers of the California Highway Patrol while dressed during a traffic stop.
*My mom’s second husband used to tease and put me down about my cross dressing.
I wish someone would have reached out to me when I was younger and told me that it was going to be alright and that I wasn’t alone. Although horrible, part of me really understands why so many young gay kids have committed suicide.
I’m very envious of trans people who wear their transness on their sleeve and just live life. I wish I could do that.
It was an incredibly eye opening thing to see people cheering Against Me’s Laura Jane Grace. And while I didn’t notice anyone staring or laughing at me when I went out on my bike recently, I was still hidden by my helmet and sunglasses.
Not only do I need too finish PTSD therapy. But, I also need to keep taking small steps. That is the only way I can get past this.