Our company had it’s after-hours holiday party. (Because we’re an e-commerce company we did it after Q4.)
The good: I went en femme — frankly a number of people were expecting me to — and damn I looked good.
The better: I had a number of “woman to woman” interactions during the evening (the subtle changes in body language, etc.) A bit surprising to me, since while people know I “play dress up” and perform, they still pretty much only see my male self. I get the feeling that the women who acted that way probably weren’t even aware that they were doing it.
The bad: People kept introducing me (to significant others, to co-workers who didn’t know me, etc.) as [boyName] who works in [department], and using masculine pronouns.
None of it was malicious, that’s just how they know me.
But each time was a little dagger straight through the heart.
I can handle the contradictions as long as my lives are separate. But the moments when they’re intersecting are becoming harder and harder.
And it does make me wonder how easy a transition in place might really be.
I don’t feel my male persona is all a facade. It’s more it’s feeling less and less like me anymore. Again, shades of “Orlando.” But it’s a trusty old work truck that I can drive when needed. Does the job, both literally and figuratively.
It’s more that as I’m establishing my identity as a semi full-time woman, the stakes are higher so having that identity not acknowledged (utterly unintentionally) hurts, where it used to be a minor annoyance. I understood intellectually how this is a sensitive issue for transitioners, especially during and shortly afterwards, but now I’m understanding it a gut level. Fortunately, I’ve had a decade out in public, so it doesn’t feel invalidating — I know who I am, even if I’m not quite sure what I am — but it was definitely uncomfortable, in large part because it was so many incidents in a short amount of time.
Normally it’s not a huge issue, since outside of work I’ve carefully staked out my identity as a woman in burly circles, and even in drag circles people rarely saw me out of drag. The only real exception was the charity group board meetings, but even there I am (like most drag queens) referred to as Joie and female pronouns even while in male mode. So that’s doesn’t bug me.
This just happened to be a rare case where I was presenting as a woman where people are used to dealing with me as a man. If I’d known I’d react this strongly I wouldn’t have gone.