Hey All. Hope everyone out there is having a great spring. It is a time of rebirth and growth but mostly it’s an end to winter which, if you live in northern climes, means ‘holy shit we can go outside once again and it doesn’t hurt’!
Anyway I’ve had an interesting past couple of weeks to say the least. The job I currently have includes travel. And by travel I mean throughout the United States even though thus far I’ve only been sent to the south. In January I was sent to bumfuck Louisiana and these past two weeks I was sent to bumfuck Kentucky and bumfuck Alabama (I think there’s a theme starting here). Still waiting for my trips to Colorado and California. I guess this brings me to personal feelings that I can’t say that I’m proud of but feel somewhat justified in believing. Basically I dislike, am afraid of, and am fairly prejudiced against the southeastern U.S. Now I can’t pretend that this feeling is completely unfounded, at least for this non-passing trans girl from the north. But the south is less educated and much more red (republican) than most of the country. And I’m not talking your run of the mill fiscal conservative republicans. I’m talking the crazy right wing nutjobs that want to turn ‘Merica into a theocracy. Although I don’t think they see it that way because ‘CONSTITUTION’! Mind you the proto theocracy they already have going is only building momentum and does not like people like me. In fact, my people are now number one on the enemies list. Mostly because they have almost completely lost the culture war and gay marriage is legal in Mississippi for christ’s sake. Gay marriage didn’t go their way so the next goal of the wacko right is to basically erase the existence of trans people. Although they seem much more interested in trans girls as opposed to trans guys. They seem to have a huge disconnect in realizing that trans guys even exist but that’s a topic for another post. (Note: I am not writing that particular post because it’s so out of my wheelhouse) I think most all of the trans community has heard of the latest round of ‘bathroom bills’ being approved around the south. The bills that are touting what a HUGE problem trans girls are in bathrooms. I mean I know when I go I always try to flush loads and loads of tp down each toilet. Take that janitorial staff! But seriously the right (and here I’m talking about official republican party line) does not want the ‘trans menace’ to spread any further. Never mind the opinions of the AMA, APA, England’s NHS, and honestly several more professionally recognized organizations that all state that gender dysphoria is real, cannot be changed, and can be treated by allowing the person access to hormones, surgeries, and legal rights to live as the gender they know they truly are. I know, crazy right? It’s like they want to us to be treated like actual people. Getting back to my main point here is that my prejudices are somewhat founded but still I really try not to judge people until I have interacted with them personally.
So that being said how did my latest southern odyssey play out? Meh, about how I expected. Now keep in mind that I didn’t really present very femme much of the time. Mostly because when I work in the field it’s full Personal Protective Equipment which includes hard hat and steel toed boots and I also wear old work jeans (which are women’s but it’s not that obvious apparently) and long sleeves at all times. The sleeves are not required but I need to protect my arms from the sun, mostly because I like to wear tank tops in the summer and I don’t need tanned arms to go with ghostly white shoulders. Not a good look. The field is one thing. I expect that. I know how I look. I have a pretty good feeling how an un-femmed me appears to others (hint: like a boy). So I try to prepare myself for this. And honestly I really don’t interact much with the locals when I’m on site. I’m not the field lead and have no interest in socializing at all so I have very little need to talk to them which I think works out for all of us. The field is one thing. My main concern with these trips is my time spent away from the field.
This trip was no different and, as I thought, I ended up spending most of my free time in the hotel. But I did have to venture out at least a little bit. I couldn’t get delivery every night especially since the delivery ‘options’ were crappy pizza chain, crappy pizza chain, and crappy pizza chain. So getting out and about is where my fragile psyche really took a beating. I mean I wasn’t wearing makeup but I still had on larger purple glasses (girlish), skinny jeans (girlish), long hair down (girlish), and girly colored trainers or flip flops clearly showing off painted toe nails (girlish). I really tried to steel myself against all the he’s and sirs that I would receive and that was pretty much all I heard. I was hoping at least a couple (or even one) people would address me as female but that did not happen. I think the worst one was the hotel clerk who had just seen my ID. My ID with ‘Teela Wild’ on it along with a big ‘F’ for female. So she hands my ID back to me and without missing a beat says ‘thank you, sir’. BLARGHHHHHHHH! Seriously?
Generally the misgendering occurred along with some really nasty looks. Now, I’m fairly used to the stares. Or if not stares than the eyes of people lingering a bit too long trying to figure me out but I got those and then some when I was out in the south. I mean really nasty hateful glances. Maybe it’s in my own head. Maybe it’s not. And in a nutshell that was pretty much it. No one (and I mean no one) addressed me as female. It’s hard not to be a bit down after that. It’s hard not to feel that I just went back to square one with this whole transition thing. I mean I know what I look like. I know what I sound like. But I also know what I am and not being addressed correctly by any stranger takes a toll that I thought I could handle but really had a lot of difficulty dealing with. But I made it through. I even got to have dinner with a twitter friend on the way back home so getting out and being myself for that one evening made a world of difference. And then I got back home late the next night and I realized just how comfortable home can be. And how my life in Upstate New York is about a million times better than anywhere south of the Mason-Dixon line that I’ve been. And how I still try to give all people that I encounter the benefit of the doubt but also knowing that there are many out there that hate me for just existing. And, honestly, really happy that I wasn’t born in one of these bumfuck towns because who the hell knows where I would be right now? Probably not living as openly trans that’s for sure. Alright, that’s enough of my The South bashing. I know a lot of great folks that live down there and there are good and bad people everywhere so I probably shouldn’t be so narrow minded about their perceived narrow mindedness. I guess.
Thanks for reading. Stay safe out there.
Teela Jewel Wild