CW: Trans and “passing” stuff.
I remember being 17 at an In-N-Out burger, I was a Senior in HS, hanging out with my friends and not “Out” in any way. I had just started growing my hair out past my shoulders and starting to self-actualize, I didn’t really have words to put to my feelings, was I gay, was I a crossdresser, or was I something else?
Well, it seemed other people made some realizations for me, be it the queer girls I would date or in this situation the guys gatekeeping the mens room. I remember walking towards the bathroom at this In-N-Out and seeing an older man walking out, he sees me entering and does a triple take, looking at me then the MEN on the door, then back at me, back at the door etc… It’s like that old colonial fairy tale about Indigenous people not being able to see the ships on the horizon because those tall masted Galleons were beyond their comprehension. This guy saw right through me, his mind boggled at the idea that I was assigned male. Through the blur that has been my life, that moment remains crystal clear in my memory.
I write this because after that moment there have been thousands of experiences like this. I still get Sir’d if i’m slummin’ it (I’m getting laser hair removal so that helps), but 99% of the time I get ma’am’d these days. Plus my paperwork’s legit, most importantly I have a US Passport with an F on it, an essential tool for any mass traveling transgirl like myself. Kentucky might argue that I’m not a woman if only NY says so, I have a better chance of not getting treated like an M if the highest ID in the land says F. This sounds paranoid, but people can get arrested for nonsense and end up as a woman in a male jail, it happens and we have to watch ourselves. Another reason why anybody who thinks being transgender is to “gain privilege” can go eat a rock.
Coming around to my point, I’ve spent the better part of the last 2 days at the DMV and there was some of The Most Boring Pain. It came from one person who wanted to see my birth certificate (the one document I haven’t changed) because they “needed to confirm my gender marker”. I was livid, my gender markers should have never been brought up, it says F on all my paperwork. I looked super cute and have never met this person before, so I can only imagine they knew me from porn or TV, they seemed to recognize me on some level.
After waiting for a number of hours (no appointments available) I get this flack. I likely would have made a scene if it weren’t completely packed in the DMV, if I were to raise my voice everyone in town would have likely heard. I did mutter that it was “fucking ridiculous”, but I felt so caged in I basically couldn’t defend myself. I still feel a little out of place around all these Pennsylvanians, I’m used to the warm, comforting misery of a big city DMV, the diversity of lifestyles is a comfort to those of us who are potential targets of discrimination.
I resolved everything today, i’ll skip the boring details but I spoke to the right people and was able to get everything I need bigotry free today. Now I have to worry about some jerk who has potentially seen some of my paperwork and name, just another footstep behind me, reason to watch my back. This isn’t getting in the paper and no institutional changes will be made, it just took me 2 days to achieve what would take any other woman half a morning, simply because some guy decided to pick on me. Such is life.
It’s The Most Boring Pain because it’s been roughly 17 years since that door at In-N-Out, half my goddamn life, and this still happens, still having the same arguments about validity. Some of that is my fault, for not staying consistent with things over the years and going places without an entourage etc, but some of that is unavoidable. It does feel like at times I’m being continuously punished for my mistakes, but that’s just a way to describe life in general. I suppose my hope has always been to see a world in which “passing” doesn’t matter and people don’t put so much weight on these labels. I believe that world is coming, and it’ll come off as quaint, telling young people about all the shit we pre-2000’s transpeople got. That’s my hope at least.
I’m writing this not to discourage other people from being their true selves, I always fear that I’m over sensationalizing the negative aspects sometimes, I just wanted to put some truth out about the day to day of being trans. It may seem like the power here lies in the government to jerk me around or in individuals to make things difficult, but that’s not real power. The real power, the strength in this world is not in those who weigh others down, but those who rise up against them, if only by being themselves.
To them I say, behold the strength of somebody living their authentic life. You may go out of your way to put walls up but I will push through every single one of them. Our spirits will break barriers for future generations, to make a world where every room will have allies. So when I face this adversity, I know I’m part of a long chain that will eventually break, as long as theirs people standing up for what’s right.
So thank you to all the allies and to my brothers, sisters and non-binary kin, after venturing into the 9th ring which is the DMV, I know I have people that support me and my journey. Big hugs.