Winning People Over, One at a Time

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Something really good happened to me recently, so I’m writing about it.

When people compliment my aesthetics based on my pictures, I thank them but I also point out that I throw away maybe 90% of the pictures, and I publish the few that look nice. It’s an old Playboy photographer trick. During the course of a typical 3-day centerfold photo shoot, they take an average of 10,000 pictures (last I heard) and only a dozen of those make it into the magazine. With that approach, it’s a lot easier to happen to look good in at least one picture now and then.

If you see me in person, you’ll notice that I have a much more male-shaped face than in the pictures. That’s the feature I like least. My mom cheerfully argues with me as to how I come acros, but I see the effect I have on people, and I draw my own conclusions.

I recall reading a story about race relations. The mom and her baby, at the time, lived in a neighborhood where the only people whom the baby saw were white or something close to that skin tone. One day, the mom and baby were at a grocery store, and for the first time, the baby saw a black person — not coffee-colored skin but a very dark complexion. The baby stared in shock for a few seconds and started crying, loudly and non-stop. The mom was mortified and apologized, explaining to the black person that this is the first time that her baby had seen a black person. The black gentleman was most gracious and reassured her that he wasn’t taking it personally.

Unfortunately, I know how that black gentleman may have felt. I live in a small, rural town where “out” trans girls are a rarity. I put on make-up, nail polish, wear dresses or skirts, and generally try to give strangers as many social cues as I can. The large (albeit mostly fake) boobs help too. But, it’s an uphill battle.

A few months ago, I was about to rent a new business property. Every time I meet someone new for a complicated business transaction, I take a deep breath and dive in. As an “out” trans girl, it’s rarely simple or easy. For that reason I’d just really rather do things via email, but I should not live as a hermit, either. So, I deal with it.

On the day I walked into the office of the real estate agent, the front door was at the opposite end of a large room to where she was sitting at her desk. She looked up and her face had so spontaneous an “oh my gawd, ewww” instant-horror-and-disgust expression that it was very unpleasant to be there, and walk across that room and commence doing business. I try to think of the baby-crying story when things like this happen, and I try not to take them personally.

Truth be told, I still struggle personally to synthesize, at an emotional level, a very male-looking face with feminine make-up and clothing. Whether it’s me looking in the mirror at my own reflection, or at someone else, sometimes it just looks like jarring to me. I understand that the person is a trans girl and is trying hard, but it’s not automatic for to get over the contrast. When the trans girl has a more-female-than-male androgynous look then the effect is the opposite; I find that look very intriguing and attractive. But, it’s a fine line.

To her credit, and as I do in such situations, the real estate lady mustered her self-control, and conducted the conversation with the utmost professionalism — but I could see she was struggling. It was a relief for me, and probably for her too, when I left.

The next series of interactions were via email, and some of the issues involved me making a polite but hard stand as to that particular aspect being unacceptable to me. I happen to be friends with the land-lord so it was tempting to just go over the lady’s head, but instead I worked through the issues with her, disagreements and all. Gradually, in spite of (or maybe because of) the tough negotiations, I could see her style and tone change, as the days went by. Eventually, it became a very friendly and positive dynamic, via email anyway.

When the deal finally concluded, I was feeling very grateful and positive towards her, so the next time I went grocery shopping, I bought a small potted plant with yellow flowers, and then I stopped by her office to hand them to her. I was ready for her emotional reaction (again) to my look, and yet I was willing to deal with that.

However, she just reacted with simple delight as to the flowers, and started chatting about her day including the need to go rent a hand dolly to move a refrigerator. I happen to own such a dolly, so I invited her to my business so that she could borrow it. She accepted with delight, and we drove in convoy to my shop. At that location, I explained our business operations, while pointing to actual artifacts. She seemed interested and impressed.

Typical of the culture of this cowboy town (yes, literally, as in people who do that for a living), she also mentioned that she’s shopping for a better horse trailer. We chatted about that too. Her attitude was 100% positive and nice.

The last Friday of January, I needed to stop by to drop off a rent check. It was almost 5 pm. and her “open” sign was on, with the lights also still on in her office and her SUV parked outside. I remembered the first visit and didn’t know how much of that might still remain, so I avoided going in. Instead, I ran another errand, expecting that after 5 pm, I would just stop by after everyone had left, and shove the rent check through the mail slot in the door. Just before 6 pm I drove back to her office, but she was still there. I decided to brave it and walked in.

She cheerfully and benevolently hailed me with a loud “Hi Tanya!” from across the room, and beamed at me. We chatted about personal things and she was sincerely friendly and nice. When I left, she cheerfully and loudly said “Bye, Tanya!” with a broad and sincere smile.

And so, the world has become, for me and her, a slightly nicer place. When I was less cynical, i used to think I could win people over to my way of thinking (whatever that was at the time) in droves.

Nowadays, I know better. Whatever I stand for, I do better when I am personally an exemplary ambassadrix. It’s a slow process but I enjoy it, and it works well for me.

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