Disclosure?

Within the transgender community, there are regular discussions on whether someone like myself need to disclose his/her transgender status to prospective employers. In my recent job applications, I’ve been very upfront about my “trans”-ness. But I also expect other transwomen to have come to different conclusions, and for different reasons. So I posted this question in a Facebook discussion group:

So I’m in the process of changing jobs amidst my transition. I’ve been very upfront about being transgender in my cover letters, and, for the most part, I haven’t had any issues. (May be this is an advantage of living in Canada?) My question is: is it wise to disclose that I’m trans? Not necessary? Bad idea? What are your thoughts?

Continue reading “Disclosure?”

The Flautist

This post was meant to be posted at some point in April, a few days after getting my haircut. It was a very nice story that just somehow relegated to the “Drafts” folder and was never shown until now, when I’m trying to write about something else.

I had a few last-minute cancellations at the tutoring service. Since I’ve been pretty tired from work, I decided to take the night off to quietly walk around the Distillery District in the evening. I went past a church with a small sign saying “Flute Recital Tonight”, and thought, oh hell, why not? I grabbed a copy of the concert programme at the door, and lo and behold, it’s a flautist that I’ve known for years. Only she doesn’t know Kate.

Anyway, the recital went really well, and it was definitely a treat to hear the flute outside of its usual role in an orchestra. To say that my long-lost friend is a fantastic flautist would be an understatement. I sat in the back of the church, out of everyone’s way (sight?). At the end of the recital, I went downstairs to the reception in the church basement. My friend was already there, mingling with friends and relatives and guests. She looked towards my general direction…and stared directly at me. She frowned for a second, then her eyes lit up. She walked (ran?) towards me, grabbing my hands.

“Oh my god! I almost didn’t recognize you!” she exclaimed. Apparently she heard through the grapevine that I am now, well, a woman. “You’re so beautiful!” she added, stroking my hair. Knowing full well that I’m not at all “beautiful”, I was uncertain if she was just being polite. (You see, she’s the one who’s drop-dead gorgeous.) But judging from her enthusiasm, I felt that she genuinely meant it. In the back of my mind, I hoped that my new haircut made a difference.

We chatted a bit more before I left. I had a feeling that it wouldn’t take another 6 years before I speak to her again.

Thoughts on Coming Out

The last two posts I’ve talked about my coming out experiences. (You’d think that since I’ve identified as transgender for years, everyone would know already, but with my friends and family spread out all over the world, that’s not always the case.) I want to share a story of my coming out to a friend. For all my positive stories, this isn’t one of them. It happened awhile ago, at a time when I was unsure of my future. I was unemployed, and I’ve been in a bit of a rut. I was encouraged to come out to my friend, since in the past, he’s shown a lot of insight towards people in need. And I needed a sounding board. We agreed to meet at his place one night, after his wife and kids have gone to sleep.

I spent an entire evening rehearsing what I wanted to say, and I was assured that nothing bad can come out to this.

I never really got around to say most of what I planned, because what followed was the most incisive (my other description would be “ruthless”) psycho-analysis I’ve ever experienced. Except as insightful as my friend was, he wasn’t a therapist who could spot trouble. To have myself picked apart was not what I wanted…or gave permission to. I listened to his every word, then politely left, and started crying as soon as I was in my car. For the first time, I contemplated driving off a bridge.

I have no doubt that he meant well, but well intentions can’t guarantee that I won’t be hurt just the same. For many months I completely withdrew from my social circles. It took a lot of courage, at least a lot of convincing, that not all my friends want to analyze me.

Reflecting on that night, I wish I could say I’m glad that I didn’t drive off the bridge that night, but I couldn’t. I’m not the same person I was any more. I missed my bubbly outgoing self, but while I willed myself to stay on the highway that night, that Kate nevertheless died, and she will never come back. I still find myself insular when it comes to sharing my thoughts and feelings with people. I excuse myself from social gatherings even at the hint that he’ll also be there. My other friends have surely caught on already. “Luckily” for me, he’s so busy that he almost never makes it.

My high school mentor once said of my first break up, “recovered but not healed.” It’s an appropriate description of my recent state of mind.

I know that I’m not alone; many trans people go through much worse. if you’re one of them, know that my thoughts are with you, and even though many of us will never be healed from all the hurt levelled at us, whether intentionally or unintentionally, but in time, we can still recover.

My Coming Out Story Again

I recently came out to two friends, an elderly couple DK and NK. Despite having known them for a long time, I still had to muster a lot of courage to speak to them about this. It was hard to explain to them what it’s like being transgender all my life. Meanwhile, all these years they had no idea of the struggle that has been waging inside me. I tried my best to explain, and this is what I came up with:

Being a guy is like putting on a mask. My mask isn’t terribly uncomfortable, and after many years, I have become accustomed to it. Most of the time, I don’t mind wearing this mask. It isn’t a lie, but it hides enough of me that it keeps me from being marginalized, and allows me to be reasonably well integrated in society. There were days when this mask is utterly unbearable. When I was in high school, looking into the mirror everyday was painful. But sooner or later, people closest to me will have to know of this mask, and they need to finally know the person behind the mask.

For the record, we spent about an hour talking about this. There was a lot of crying and hugging, but when I left, I have came to allies.