I have this really hard time saying “Hi. My name is Becca”. Even in places where it should be very safe to do so. And it’s left me wondering if I’m embarrassed to be seen as trans. So, I thought I would explore that idea for a little bit.
Last week, I was at the bill signing for Colorado’s civil unions. I was really fine for the entire roughly 90 minutes we were there. There was a time when I wouldn’t want to be seen around gay or trans people. I feared it would out me or put me in danger. But I think, largely because of the personal acceptance I’ve gone through and the recently added vitamin B, I didn’t have a problem standing amongst a crowd of over 100 people.
But, when we were leaving, the person I was with saw an employee from The LGBT Center. The two women talked on our way to the door. At some point between seeing her and reaching the front door, the young woman next to the lady my friend was talking with turned and stuck out her hand and said “Hi! I’m ………”
This is something I’ve had a very hard time coming up with a solution for. I don’t pass. Im not sure even how. In the past, due to my social anxiety and lack of acceptance, I wouldn’t even try. Now that I’m more comfortable with who I am, I still look at my hideous face and hair line. I listen to the sound of my voice. I still avoid mirrors. Don’t even get me started on my nose.
Given I was standing next to the coordinator of the transgender programs at the LGBT Center, surrounded by gays and lesbians and shaking the hand of this woman’s partner (who I’ve met before), I should have felt safe enough to say the word Becca. But, every time this happens, I’m caught by surprise. I’m not used to being seen in public. I come and go in the background. People don’t want to talk to me. I exist in crowds with my head down. Heck, I successfully evaded a conversation last night.
To be clear, I don’t actually believe I’m truly ashamed of being trans. I’m out to all my friends and all my family members except my grandparents. I’m out on Facebook and Twitter. I’m one hell of an advocate. That is, as long as there is a phone or computer screen between me and the world.
I know what people see. A couple of months ago, I went to the LGBT Center for a meeting. Once I told the man at the front desk who I was there to see, he picked up the phone handset and asked for my name. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity before saying Robert.
There’s absolutely nothing about my facial structure that screams female. So, I continue living this weird male existence. My breasts have grown. So, I often wear a sports bra and a baggy sweat shirt. I’ve tinkered with my voice. But, I’m not really sure what I’m doing.
I’ve been trying to push my personal boundaries recently by trying to present at group meetings. And I’ve presented on the bus recently. Well, as best I can. I try to stay clear of the line that delineates where the laugh track starts.
I was thinking about this the other day. And something a friend told me about the gay community just popped into my mind. He told me about gay generations. People older than me have a different philosophy about being out than people who are, for instance, in high school right now. I know trans people roughly my age who don’t like it even if I say the word trans in a public restaurant. Even if its in hushed tones. I did that once with a friend who passes very well. I could see the fear in her face.
I feel like I’m caught in this weird middle ground between generations. People my age typically aren’t out unless they really don’t have a choice. I mean they don’t pass. If they do pass, they tend to blend in. Because I tended to use social media to out myself and try to beat my own anxiety to a pulp, I tend to be a little more vocal online. My Facebook & Twitter feeds often border on activism. But, I’m not about to walk down the street in a dress or wear a t-shirt proclaiming my particular birth defect to the world.
What did I do when this lady offered her hand and introduced herself? I was that jerk who shook her hand and said hi. I told her it was nice meeting her. But, I didn’t give her a name either way. I need to figure out how to solve this puzzle.