Since I started writing this blog, almost exactly ten years ago, so much has changed.
When I first started writing, I was unhappily married, with two small children, to a woman who despised everything to do with crossdressing. We had some counselling, but nothing changed. What really made a difference was coming out to a close friend. My ex-wife was determined that nobody should ever know--I mean, what would people think?
It turns out that people wouldn't mind very much at all, as I found out when I continued to come out to close friends and family members. Then there was the divorce, which was unbearably awful, and then a period of readjustment to my life as a divorced person.
|Bluestocking Blue: Ten Years On|
Since then, my life is completely transformed. We go out together when I'm dressed. Admittedly, with a bunch of kids who have swimming lessons and sports fixtures and music lessons and all that, there isn't an abundance of opportunity for us, but it's unfailingly amazing and never gets old. We were invited once to a friend's birthday party, and I turned up as Vivienne to meet a houseful of strangers--who were all lovely.
My fem clothes hang in the wardrobe, next to my drab male clothes (not hidden in the suitcase in the attic). My heels are next to my man shoes. My makeup is in the drawer. She borrows my nail polish remover; I borrow her foundation brush. She helps me pick out what to wear.
Once a month I go to a very nice beautician (recommended by Missy) who does my leg waxing. We gossip like she would with any client, and she's super lovely. And I've been getting makeup tips from a local makeup artist, who had never had a trans client before but again is super lovely.
I'd love to say that I can be Vivienne whenever I want, but this isn't true. Overall, though, I could not have envisaged the direction my life would take. Where will it lead? I do not know, of course, but I am reminded of a line from the theme song of Ally McBeal (remember that show?), which resonated with me at the time: One by one, the chains around me unwind.
I even "came out" on this blog and admitted I'm a doctor, having previously pretended to be something else. I've been exploring the situation of transgender doctors, and have now made contact with several, as well as other professionals (an artist, a statistician, a novelist).
|Which box should I be ticking?|
Once a year, however, my hospital sends around a staff survey. It asks for lots of details, such as what your hours of work are, what mode of transport you take to get to work, whether you feel safe leaving in the dark, and so on. I assume they are trying to make sure that the requirements of staff to get safely to work are met. They also ask about ethnicity, and I'm assuming that they're trying to make sure that the ethnic makeup of the staff is a reflection of the ethnic makeup of the community.
But they also ask about gender orientation.
When that question comes up anywhere else, in online applications, or other form-filling, I click on "non-binary" or "other" or whatever third option they give other than "male" and "female". But at work, I don't. I still click on "male".
I've found myself reflecting on why I do this, but basically, it's a form of cowardice. I know other people, more out than I, who have experienced real difficulties created by their gender identity. Yet, they persist, driven by courage, or determination, or the desire perhaps to blaze a trail for those who follow. Like water on stone, eventually the stone will be worn away. Why don't I click that third box, and prepare myself for whatever follows?
Because a close friend once warned me that our city is still quite conservative. You can only come out once. There could still potentially be adverse consequences of being open. She would know; it's happened to her.
And so, for the moment, I don't click the box. It turns out, that, even ten years on, I am still worried about what people would think.
While my input to this blog has dwindled a bit since I started writing (far too much!) on Quora, I'm delighted to find that I'm still ranked at number 55 on the Feedspot Top 60 Crossdressing Blogs and Websites, updated on 11th December 2021, so I suppose I'm still allowed to have my gold medal displayed on the home page.
Congratulations on your anniversary and all that you've achieved. To be accepted and welcomed by family and friends, that's beautiful.ReplyDelete
Yes, you could say not ticking the box at work is playing it safe, yet you might also ask is it safe to come out there as things stand? You're not failing if you decide to keep work and personal apart, IMO. Sometimes work doesn't need to know everything, at least, not unless they're willing to make it okay to be who we are and not use LGBTQ+ as an excuse to discriminate.
I wish you and yours all the best for the years ahead.
Thank you so much Lynn, and I appreciate your supportive comment.Delete
On the other hand, I do feel that perhaps I should stand up and be counted. How many other employees are keeping quiet? Perhaps if we all ticked the third box, the hospital would realise they actually have quite a lot of non-binary staff, and make changes to accommodate us.
I hope you have a lovely Christmas and a COVID-free New Year!
We are in a similar situation apart from the fact that you have a more actively supportive partner, while mine accepts that this is part of me but want no involvement or ever to see this side of me. So I can only be Susie when I we're not together, although at least I don't have to worry about hiding her stuff as long as I keep it tidied away out of plain sight.
I tell myself I no longer care what other people think, but it's no strictly true and in part it's more for concern about not embarrassing my partner should the neighbours see me if I go out. And I've not come out to my family or even the Pride network at work despite being a committee ally. I don't think it's cowardice. As you say, it's not something you can step back from once done. And in my case, I'm comfortable with being gender fluid, so it's not exactly a lie if I tick or express as male, just not the whole truth of who I am.
Thank you for dropping by to post your comment.
I'm very sorry that your partner isn't more accepting, and I hope that she relents a little as time goes on.
When I got divorced, my first impulse was to throw all caution to the wind: I felt nothing worse could possibly happen to me than had already happened.
Retrospectively, I realise that giving in to that impulse would have been harmful, and I'm quite glad that instead, I have moved forward in a series of careful small steps. My idea is that small steps are unlikely to result in big harms--which is one of the reasons I'm cautious about ticking that third box.
I hope you have a wonderful festive season.
I really respect what you have done. My situation is similar to Susie's. As a high-level manager, I have never come out at work, except to one transwoman and the personnel manager (who took me aside one day and asked why I was so moody). This is a very LGBTQ supportive company. I have always been on the side of the LGBTQ folks at work when there has been any sort of harassment issues and that includes a few transgender individuals.
Hi Calie, and thank you for dropping by to post your comments.Delete
It's lovely that you're on the side of the LGBTQ+ people in your company, and surely it's great for them to have a senior figure who is supportive.
But if your company is truly supportive, then surely you should feel more comfortable to express more of your true self?
I'd be interested to talk further about this, if you're willing.
Calie's situation might be a bit like mine at work. I am lucky to work in a company that has a number of strongly supported diversity and inclusion networks. And even though I am on one of LGBT+ Pride committees, I initially registered as an Ally rather than as trans/bi-gender. There have been several occasions where I have had a feeling of 'imposter syndrome' in that regard, and ready for an opportunity to introduce Susie to the rest of the committee but somehow the right timing has never quite come up. Maybe it will sometime in the future (Trans Day of Visibility perhaps?).Delete
I have only come out to two friends I've known for a long time (one of whom is trans) which was a surprise to both.
But as Lynn asked me once, 'What is it you hope to gain?' and I'm not sure I fully know the answer to that one yet.
For me, what I hope to gain is quite clear: it's acceptance. I'm fed up hiding this side of me; pretending to be a typical male; pretending to be interested in manly activities; suppressing every time I want to compliment someone on her shoes or her nails or whenever I want to be a bit more flamboyant. If everyone knew about me (and was accepting) then I could just ditch the pretence, stop hiding, and get on with my life.
However, I did have an interesting experience lately. A friend (to whom I am out) asked me if I knew any LGBT+ people at my hospital, so that he could involve them in the local Pride organisation. I got a bunch of them together in the pub, and then had to pretend (because I'm not out to all of them) that I'm "just" an ally, rather than being "one of them". Again this sort of awkwardness feels needless!
Firstly well done on 10 years!
I am a bit like Susie so not in the enviable position you now find yourself in. But having said that my feminine side has grown in recent years and probable much more so in the last twelve months, it is very strong all the time even if I am presenting as male. I work part time for a company that if asked will claim to have all the LBGTQ procedures in place, when a corporate customer enquires as to their stance on LBGTQ they will provide al the right answers. However the reason I will never tick that box while working for this company is the fact that the real attitude of the company is very different. The problem here is they pay lip service, to appease customers without actually engaging with the community and actively supporting non binary people within the company. I know I can't possibly be the only one, but like me they prefer to keep their heads down. As for you in your employment, I think our instinct will tell us when it's right to tick that box, you are not being cowardly you are doing what your mind, in the current situation is telling you what is right for you. That may change and one day you might feel it's right to 'tick that box' in the meantime, just be enjoy being you...........
And there's the rub! I do think a lot of companies say one thing up front ("Equality! Diversity! Acceptance!") because that will attract customers, and another thing behind the scenes; this sort of virtue signalling is very uncomfortable for me.
New Zealand (where I live) has a Rainbow Tick scheme (www.rainbowtick.nz). If a company applies to display the Rainbow Tick, it's not just a question of filling in a form. Once you apply, the company is thoroughly vetted by a team of LGBT+ people, to ensure that, from top to bottom, every aspect of the company's activity is genuinely free of any discrimination.
What this means is that if a company hasn't got a Rainbow Tick, then they are probably just virtue signalling--but if they have earned one, they are genuinely inclusive, and worthy of the support of the entire community.
I've had a look at your blog and your pictures are really lovely. I really understand your feelings, and I hope you get the chance to express yourself more openly. Best wishes.