I am a transgender woman in her early forties, and I’ve been out of the closet for more than six months, including at work. I live every day en femme and have abandoned the lie that I’d been living for most of my life.
To say that it has been a hard journey is an understatement. I work for a small company and my boss (the owner) is an old, conservative, privileged white arsehole. It’s been a rocky road and there have been many fights between the two of us. At the end of the day I always win out because a) I’m much fucking smarter than him and b) my civil rights are protected by our constitution (I’m South African) and c) he’s a coward who doesn’t have the balls to face a lawsuit.
Be that as it may (and the situation sounds rather more bleak and grim than it is), I suffer from subtle microaggressions every day. Ferinstance, today was Valentine’s day and he brought in a red rose for each of the ladies at the office. Except for GUESS WHO?
So, now, I’m a little bit pissed off although I’ve already dissected the situation but my give-a-fuck-o-lator is giving me some trouble with its generosity. On the one hand, I feel a bit sorry for the other ladies because (and of course the irony is lost on them) it’s not about them and how they feel as recipients, it’s all about my boss and his feelings as the giver.
(Dale Carnegie was such a wise, if cynical, dude).
But I digress. Additionally, there is the overt statement that I’m not a woman, based purely on my genetics (and perhaps also because I don’t “pass”, having started my transition late in life). I’m thinking that it shouldn’t matter; that the unspoken insistence that I remain “one of the boys” is demeaning and disrespectful.
That is all, rant over. Am I being overly sensitive?
Kindest, bestest regards extraordinaire
Crazy? Perhaps. Who wants red roses from an old, white, conservative privileged arsehole anyway? (Notice how I refrained from making a Stormy Daniels reference there?)
You declared the rant over so now there is nothing for me to do other than ask if you could be my ghost writer from time to time. You have a certain je ne sais quoi.
I don’t think you are being over-sensitve at all. You were slighted. Publicly. I have a feeling that you are strong enough to handle it based on your letter – which I decided not to censor (much) because if I “hear” it spoken by someone from South Africa, it seems more international than crude.
I wish I had good advice for you. Even so-so. Unfortunately, I’m blank. You’re a pioneer and you’re going to face things most of us can’t truly understand. We can empathize and do our best – but we are not pioneers and have not gone through what you have.
Your co-workers, like it or not, are also pioneers. Perhaps unwilling ones. Try to give them all the empathy you hope they will give to you. They will have different levels of acceptance and understanding – I bet a few surprise you. It just takes time and for some people it will take more time.
Meanwhile, be sure to know your local legal rights and be sure that your employer knows what is expected as well. Being understanding and patient does you should be a sap. You deserve to be treated like everyone else at work and should accept nothing less.
Best of luck to you – please let us know how things go.
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