Most people (the five of you!) who read my blog might be tempted to think that I am an extrovert. While this is mostly true, the fact is that when I am out, I am usually not particularly eager to interact with people in general. When I go to the library, supermarket, movies, hardware store, watching fall colours, even occasionally to church, I usually keep to myself in my thoughts. Even when I am with a big group, I often only chat with my closer friends. (On the few occasions when I did talk to other people, almost everyone had been friendly and kind.) But reading Stana’s blog at femulate.org recently has given me a new-found confidence to interact with the outside world more. It’s about time that I accept the fact that I am a non-op, non-HRT, transgender woman, and I’m here to stay. And dammit, other people should accept it too!
And as the weather is warming up, it’s time for me to change my tires back to my summer tires. So yesterday morning, I loaded my tires (on rims) into the trunk of my car, while wearing my Kate Young dress from Target. In hindsight I should have worn my tank top and yoga pants. Nevertheless, I drove out a tire shop that I usually go to north of the city, one of the two shops that I use for tire-changeovers. I walked up to the staff person at the counter. Right away, he asked me for my licence plate number, which I gave him. He then asked for my ID—no one has ever asked for my ID, the whole purpose of getting my licence plate number was just to bring up my records on file; there was no need to see an ID. My driver’s licence of course had my birth name on it.
He then, very loudly, announced my name, “It’s [….], right?” I felt a shiver down my spine, as all the customers started to look at me. Did he just out me on purpose? I thought. Keeping a straight face, he continued, “Are the tires on rim?”
“Yes, they’re in my trunk.” I replied, trying to compose myself, but I felt my voice quivering a bit. “And the nuts for the alloy rims are on the backseat.” I’m sure that I was clear. But he acted as if I was mumbling.
“Pardon me sir?” He said. I repeated what I said…three times. Each time my voice was raised louder, until at the end when there was no way that I could have sounded feminine anymore. Still all eyes were on me; I felt my arms shake a bit. I wasn’t certain whether I was upset or scared or both.
He muttered, but not quietly enough: “Oh, a strong guy like you should have no problem loading them…” I felt tears dripping down. “Look, sir, we may have to take all day. You can wait in the waiting room in the back, grab a snack, water or coffee, watch some TV, and the men’s room is to the left.”
I went to the back room, sitting there quietly. There were a few men in the room already. Do they think that I am man? An older woman (not that she was old, she was just older than me) sat down right next to me a few minutes later. She was behind me when everything was going on. She looked at me for a few seconds—which initially made me nervous. Is she going to make fun of me too? But then she said, “Oh you poor girl, don’t cry.” Only then did I realize I was sobbing. She put both arms around me and continued, “Let me give you a hug.” And she didn’t let go of me for the longest time. The lady took me by my hands, and dragged me to the ladies’ room to help me clean up the mess that was my face; my hands just weren’t steady anymore. While she was doing my blush, she said something like, “I know they called you […..], but remember that no matter what they call you, you’re still a gorgeous woman.” And then with a bit of a smirk, she said, “I want to shove my boots up his ass, but we don’t want to go to jail, do we?”
She held my hands and marched right up to the counter, demanding to see the manager. In a very loud and very affirming voice, she said to him, “Your staff has been very rude to this young lady here, and we don’t want to do business with you anymore. Please give us our keys back.” The manager, quickly apologized, gave us our keys, and tore up the work order. Two older men who had been waiting also left. On of them told me outside that even though he doesn’t know anything about “this gender stuff”, the way I was treated showed that the staff were idiots who didn’t know how to deal with customers.
I sat in my car for a long time before I was able to drive home. I went to bed very early last night, so I’m well rested and much calmer today. Hopefully my research work will take this episode off my mind, and that I’ll recover some confidence soon. I posted something on my Facebook and Google+, and so far the responses have been encouraging.
My tires are still inside my trunk, and I’ll definitely be visiting the other tire store from now on.