Finding Unintended Humor in Stupidity

If you’ve been reading this blog for long enough, you know that I manage several small businesses, including an automotive engineering shop. Tiny as it nevertheless is, it has multiple divisions.  One of these specializes in highly complex, high-end automatic transmissions made by the German industrial giant whose name is ZF. These transmissions are used in:

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Jaguar
  • Maserati
  • Peugeot
  • Range Rover
  • Volvo
  • VW

Of course, nowadays, computers are integrally involved. No worries, I’m a computer geek too. If you can work with complex custom software, then complex automatic transmissions are comparatively simple. For example, one of my best-ever software engineers is a 5′-tall pretty girl. She owns two BMWs with ZF transmissions. One of them needed repair because an exhaust shop had destroyed it. So, she cheerfully assembled a working transmission from the bits and pieces of three separate transmissions. Then, she and another software engineer (me) installed the transmission into her white convertible BMW and she drove the car on a 2000+ miles road trip. It ran perfectly and has been running perfectly ever since. That was three years ago.

Anyway, I subscribe to a transmission list service in which various people (so far, mostly guys) ask questions about a particular transmission-related problem and then other folks try to offer free advice. I’ve subscribed to it for a long time and I have yet to see something useful-to-me come across the wire, but who knows. Maybe one day it will, or maybe one day I can help someone. I certainly know a lot about these particular types of transmissions, by now. I’d better. I own two Audi A6 Quattros with this type of transmission, and several BMWs with this type of transmission. And before you’re overly impressed: no, they’re not all registered or even driveable.

Now and then one of the members posts something personal. It’s not really the ideal forum for that, but boys will be boys, I suppose. Anyway, one member who runs a transmission shop in PA posted this picture.

restroom

I “get it” but for those who are a little slow, a caption would have been nice. Sadly, the gentleman seems to have been a little overwhelmed at the time, so he didn’t add a caption. Later, he made an excellent recovery and posted:

Caption should of said look at this tranny in a target restroom

English is my third language. However linguistically unskilled I am, I could nevertheless find much room for improvement in the grammar for the above caption. Even so, his point is nevertheless clear. He’s cleverly making a pun with “tranny” (as in, slang for transmission) and “tranny” (as in slang for transsexual). Sparkling humor, to be sure.

For bonus points he’s tying this to the national topic-du-jour, which is that the Target Corporation has figured out that 4 inches of mostly-limp flesh don’t really outweigh a person’s brain as to what’s fundamental to categorizing a person by gender.

The brain is where ideas, thought, judgement, virtue, vice, motor control, emotions … heck, everything underlying character and personality … all reside. So, maybe a person with a female brain is female regardless of whether (like me) she has these few inches of extra flesh for now.

Those four inches of flesh are used mostly for urine discharge, but for guys they are also used for mostly-disappointing sexual performance (not fun) or hours of solo pleasure while eating Cheetos and watching porn (great fun, supposedly). Even though so many guys think these few inches or mostly-limp flesh are so very important, the Target Corporation folks still insist the brain is at least slightly more important. So do I.

Apparently, some folks disagree with the Target Corporation and with me, and they’re upset. Hence the controversy.

I assume that’s what our amateur humorist was getting at — even though he didn’t capitalize the word “target” which now reduces the phrase “target restroom” to also perhaps mean a restroom that someone is targeting … complex language, English.

ggg2016-04-28 17.26.52Anyway, I found the humor timely since just yesterday evening I had made a point of visiting the local Target department store in Sparks, NV and I had spent money there on general principle. Here’s my picture, taken yesterday. I like that picture. In fact, I like it so much that I posted it in response to the gentleman’s post, gently pointing out a problem with his humor.

To explain: He had taken a picture of a men’s restroom, supposedly that of a Target Corporation restroom. It shows a urinal. Urinals are not found in female restrooms. Girls (yes, including t-girls like me) prefer to sit and pee. Just like real girls .. mostly because we ARE real girls. So, I gently pointed out:

Except that I’d be in the female restroom … that’s the whole point. 

And yes, some of the nicest people on here who fix transmissions are transsexual chicks. We’re born with female brains and male plumbing. Hate us, beat us up, set us on fire, make dumb-ass jokes … we’re used to being treated like crap.  Sort of like blacks in the 30s through 70s. Assuming these are inferior human beings, joke away. It’s fine.

Not that I think black people or trans girls are inferior but much alleged humor seems to be based on that premise. So, as long as the premise holds, that could be very funny humor. Unfortunately, the premise doesn’t really hold up but … that really shouldn’t be news any more, in 2016.  Why, one of these years, a guy with a great mind like Dr. Ben Carson might actually last for a while as a presidential candidate even though (gasp) he’s black. Why, maybe one day a black guy might even be elected as mayor, somewhere.

Anyway, I didn’t wanna spoil the cheerful tone of the thread too much, so I also added some humor, in the form of the below picture with the caption:

gg2015-12-19 22.42.51

Here’s some more humor, me (a transsexual chick) doing a Statue of Liberty simulation using the clutch A drum out of a ZF 5HP-24A.  The original ZF part. Not the one used in the early A8 cars; the one after ZF beefed it up, until they figured out the problem was really with the valve body pressure regulator wearing out and over pressurizing the A drum.  Amazing what trans chicks know huh? 

Sadly, nobody else has as yet contributed any more humor to that particular thread.

Subsequent development 1: A very nice gentleman who runs a transmission shop in Vancouver, BC wrote benevolently and publicly:

My young daughter always Jokes with me . “Dad went to a Tranny Convention in Las Vegas” Tanya Good for you to speak up. Keep up the good work and keep on being a “Tranny Mechanic” !

That was nice, and I responded in kind.

Subsequent development 2:The gentleman suggested that the transmission industry insider magazine should maybe do an article on me, and I responded:

Wow, thank you. Maybe next year? Let’s wait until I’m a glowing success.  Right now I have the ZF 4HP-22 down but I wanna get good with the ZF 5HP-24 units before we shine the spot-light on me.  Girl or no girl, let’s judge me on merit, and right now there’s still more struggle than success. When you see a procession of dead Audis, Jaguars and BMWs come alive as they move through my shop, then it might be article time.

 

 

 

 

 

Being nice to Target

ggg2016-04-28 17.26.52As I understand the story, the department store Target is way ahead of most folks, and has figured out that:

  1. Trans girls are, well, girls
  2. Making female restrooms off-limits to some girls while welcoming them to male restrooms means they might eventually go into the male restroom.
  3. Sending a girl to pee in a guy’s restroom is a very bad idea even if (like me and so many t-girls) she would presumably use the stall not the urinal.

Here are two stories to illustrate why:

 

Story 1 involves me, a trans girl a.k.a. t-girl, going into a male restroom.

Story 2 involves a t-girl friend of mine, going into a female restroom (not at Target but in a hostile culture).

Story 1: T-girl in a Male Restroom

I came out openly as a trans girl long before places had generally figured out how to deal properly with t-girls in restrooms. Me, I adhered to the law and to public convention, as it was at the time. I was supposed to go pee in male restrooms, so I peed in male restrooms.

As to open-mindedness, it’s hard to imagine more open-minded a place than:

  • In San Francisco
  • In the heart of downtown
  • In the most elegant part of downtown
  • In a business supposed to be downright hospitable: a hotel
  • In an elegant hotel
  • In a very pricey hotel: the Hyatt.

So, this meant that a tall, blonde, leggy chick in a short cocktail dress (that would be me at the time) ended up walking elegantly into a bathroom stall in the men’s restroom in the Hyatt at the Embarcadero, San Francisco. So far, so good. I sat and peed as I’ve done ever since I was a little girl, and then I got up, flushed and went to the washbasin to wash my hands.

Problem: a guy was there, staring at me incredulously. I tried to be nonchalant. He stormed off. A few seconds later, an angry janitor marched in, stood near me and glared at me, then … I felt the hostility ebb and curiosity increase. Eventually I could just about hear the gears whirring in his head. Finally, my firm jaw and 6′ height and large hands probably helped him figure out that I’m a t-girl and by the dumb standards of the day, that’s where t-girls were supposed to go pee, so okay.

Was that an unpleasant waste of time for all involved? Yes. Were those dumb standards? Yes, then and now.

Story 2: T-girl in a Female Restroom

One of my t-girl friends went on a road trip with me. By that time, I’d finally gotten my ID changed to be officially female, so worst case if the bathroom police confronted me I’d flash my ID as my get-out-of-jail-free card since, hey, I’m a girl and I’m supposed to pee in girls’ restrooms — so leave me alone when I do that.

Fortunately it wasn’t a modern t-girl hating Nazi state where I expect the bathroom police will shine a flashlight “down there” to inspect me. In that case, ID or no ID, God help me if I have an outie as plumbing because by their standards that must make me public enemy number one.

So, for me, this was a very care-free road trip.

For my friend, however, it wasn’t. Even though she’s a t-girl and thus 100% female where it matters (her brain structure) she still had an ID that read “M” so if she went to the restroom she’d risk getting into big trouble either way, either being harassed by law enforcement (if she chose the female restroom) or by males (if she chose the male restroom). As we drove the 400 miles, I started commenting on how I was cheerfully hydrating whereas by contrast she hadn’t had anything to drink at all for the entire day, and I was concerned about her health. Not drinking anything all day, in a hot and dry climate … that can’t be good for her bladder, kidneys or whatever. She explained she’s intentionally avoiding drinking anything until we’re inside our hotel room since she doesn’t want to run the danger of having to go to a public restroom since it’d be dangerous for her either way. That’s the life of a t-girl in a hostile culture. Thank goodness there are now places like Target where people like my friend can safely go.

As to my friend, I’ve spent months with her in close situations and I trust her with my life and my every asset. She’s wonderful, gentle, and kind. She runs when she sees a spider. She wouldn’t hurt a fly, much less another human — unless in self-defense or in defense of someone else. However, she is 5’9″ and could at some point bench-press 400 pounds and has a serious “don’t mess with me” look plus she’s been in the US Army. So while she’s sweet as pie, she doesn’t look like it. And she’s also not yet done her voice training so her voice is … well, think “Rambo.” And she doesn’t look totally male or totally female. She looks like a transitioning t-girl because, well, she is.

If your daughter is ever being molested in a public restroom, pray that my t-girl friend is there too because while you’re doing the deer-in-the-headlights freeze, or pleading with the assailant(s), or fidgeting to try to dial 911 while sounding coherent … my t-girl friend would probably confront the assailant(s) and protect your daughter with all of her military training and with 5’9″ and 240 lbs of muscle and bone.

God knows why people think a t-girl in a women’s restroom makes it less safe for other girls. T-girls have typically had a long, hard life of being bullied by male bullies. If a t-girl sees a male bully  harass a girl (whether that girl is 7, 14, 17, 21  or 24) the t-girl is highly likely to step in and protect the girl who’s being attacked or assaulted — and probably the day will end with the assailant being in the emergency room, courtesy of the t-girl who stepped in to protect the other girl. You don’t need bathroom police. When it comes to keeping girls safe, any t-girls who happen to be around would make for very effective vigilante bathroom police against males.

Anyway, back to my story. On the 400-mile return leg of the road trip, it was becoming dusk and I was snacking on cashew nuts and I offered some to my t-girl friend. She ate a few … BIG mistake. They gave her a VERY upset tummy. Suddenly going to the bathroom pronto was not a luxury or option. We were in a VERY rednecky county in a VERY rednecky town (I know much about the culture there, since a close friend had been born there and lived there as a child). At 9:45 pm I pulled into the parking lot of a store that closes at 10 p.m. I proceeded to buy several items, and my friend sped to the ladies’ restroom. Ten minutes went by and the manager announced he’s closing up soon and needs everyone out. I went over to the ladies’ restroom and peeked inside the main door.  I didn’t know what to do. Multiple stalls were occupied. I didn’t wanna say “hey, wrap it up, they’re closing down” and then my t-girl friend responds in her deep voice and the lady in the other stall freaks out on the premise that “OMG Sylvester Stallone is in the stall next to mine.” So, I waited, hoping that someone would come out and then I planned to go check again in case only one stall was occupied. If so, I’d feel OK with initiating the “wrap it up” dialog.

Then, a nightmare development: a super-rednecky guy showed up with … two little girls. He waited outside and they went into the ladies’ restroom. If my t-girl friend came out of her stall who knows how the little girls might react but regardless, the rednecky guy standing outside the bathroom door would probably draw all the wrong conclusions (including that someone is guilty until proven innocent) and the day might well end with my t-girl friend being in jail — even though all she wanted to do was use the restroom in peace.

Given what male clientele thereabouts were generally like, it’s a good thing she didn’t chance the male restroom either … going to either restroom was truly a no-win situation for her.

I was already trying to figure out how to come up with bail money when the door opened and some people came out, including the two little girls. The rednecky guy left, thank goodness. Finally, my friend appeared. We paid for our purchases at about 9:59 p.m. and left.

Later, my t-girl friend told me that the little girls had been unable to reach the sink (too high for them) and had asked my t-girl friend (who was washing her own hands at the time) to help by lifting them up … can you imagine the scene if the daddy had peeked in and saw my t-girl friend’s hands on one of his little girls? Even though her intentions would have been as pure as the driven snow (i.e. to help the little girls reach the sink), he’d probably have punched her out without asking. By the time she woke up she’d have been in handcuffs.

Before you take too much comfort in the premise that the truth will eventually prevail, consider the injustice perpetrated against the McMartin kindergarten in the 1980s. Some misguided social worker apparently got the random idea that children were being molested there. Hysteria ran rampant. False accusations flew. Various adults did a splendid job of bullying little children into getting the hint and saying that yes, they’d been molested when in fact they were just trying to appease the bullying adults to get them to back off and leave. By the time all the false accusations had finally collapsed, no wrongdoing could be laid at the feet of the McMartin school or its staff. The people who had made the false accusations simply packed up their circus and wandered off, but you can just imagine how much damage had in fact been done to innocent people as a result of all this.

While you ponder that, you can also ponder how in this hostile-culture scenario my totally innocent t-girl friend in the ladies’ restroom might well have been the focus of public and official hysteria had the rednecky dad drawn the wrong conclusions. All it might have taken is one little girl saying quite innocently “daddy, there was a lady in there who looked and sounded sort of like a man.” By the time the false accusations finally subsided, my t-girl friend might well have been beat up, in prison, etc.

Now you can see why, in hostile cultures, bathrooms are a mine field for t-girls even though our intentions are as pure as the driven snow. By implication, I am categorically not going to North Carolina for the next decade or so, since the populace there has enough people to vote for the sort of politician who would pass an anti-t-girl bathroom law.

So, today, I needed NOTHING from Target but I decided to go spend my money there on principle anyway, just to say “thank you.” I bought birthday gifts for friends, months in advance.  Here’s a picture of me, a happy t-girl in Target, spending money today in the (affordable) jewelry section.

ggg2016-04-28 17.40.16

Yay for Target!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Success Story #6 in Intense Mentoring: Body Dysphoria

The t-girl lady whom I mentored as my live-in roommate, for 5 months or so, experienced a huge change in body dysphoria.

She came here driving a VERY nice car, with a legendary engine. She’d barely been able to to afford it but as a techie, she appreciated good engineering. She was a walking encyclopedia as to this car and its technical  traits. I’m an automotive engineer and even by my high standards, she is very knowledgeable. She bought and downloaded the multi-thousand-page online manual and devoured it.  She had bought and installed extra diagnostics that even including modifying the wiring harness.  It all worked. She drove the car well, hard and fast. It was her pride and joy. The smallest anomaly in its behavior, she noticed and focused on correcting ASAP. Nothing was too good for this car. She even serviced the transmission herself, even though she had never done it before and lacked all the ideal tools. Even so she did it right, and well — and methodically. It took her almost a week, but she was dedicated to doing it perfectly.

Every so often, when she was taking a breath between paragraphs of chatting about the technical wonders of her car, I’d gently point out how magnificent her own physique would be if she treated herself, specifically her body, as nicely as she does her car. She acknowledged the point but for the first few months, that didn’t happen.

It certainly needed to. Before she came here, her heath was in bad shape. Daily meals consisted of mostly Ramen noodle cups, plus the not-so-healthy food her mom would prepare for family dinners.  As far as I could tell, the t-girl didn’t much care. She was focused on cerebral concerns. As to her body, it really didn’t seem to matter to her. She weighed a lot more than ideal but (key point) in an unhealthy way. When she came here I was very concerned.

Yes, I made her healthy food to eat, but that was only half the battle. The other half is best summed up by a phrase that I recall as to overweight people (which group included me, until recently): “It’s not just about what you’re eating, it’s also about what’s eating you.”

For t-girls with body dysphoria, that seems to be a very apt phrase.

Then, about three months after arriving, she started becoming more focused on what she was eating and how her body was reacting. More and more, the balance shifted from her car to herself. It was wonderful for me to observe.

 

Grow a Pair, Ladies

I hope this is the worst analogy I ever use in this blog. In the US, the expression basically is offensive male-culture-speak for “I advocate more bravery and less timidity.”

I enjoyed reading the Hunger Games books by Suzanne Collins. I also enjoyed watching the movies. For those who haven’t yet: Run, don’t walk, to the bookstore and buy all three books, and after reading them (yes, after … not instead of) go watch all three movies.

Meanwhile, here’s a total plot spoiler for the first book: The heroine feeds her family by hunting in the wild (seriously bad-ass), using a bow and arrow (seriously bad-ass) that’s outlawed and whose possession carries a severe penalty (seriously bad-ass). She doesn’t hide that she’s a bow-and-arrow wildlife hunter but instead trades her kills (seriously bad-ass) on the black market that is itself also outlawed (seriously bad-ass). Then, when her little sister is about to essentially get executed by the evil totalitarian state she volunteers to take her little sister’s place (seriously bad-ass) and then scolds her mother into getting herself together and managing the family better than she did after the last crisis (another bad-ass thing to do). And all that was just a warm-up.

Next, she gets to deal with a cultural mess that’s seriously peculiar yet her life depends on it, and she does so well (in a bad-ass way) then gets annoyed at being disrespected and shoots an arrow right into a banquet being enjoyed by the complacent dolts who dissed her (which earns her a black belt in badassness) and then gets dumped into a sort of gladiator’s arena where it’s “kill or be killed.”

She doesn’t just end up cleverly offing several seriously bad-ass well-trained killers (black belt level of badassity) but does so in a way whereby she gives the middle finger to the evil totalitarian state that orchestrated the whole thing (super-badassedness) while keeping her integrity (the most badass thing of all) and also sparking an entire revolution (seriously badass too) for which she’s the personal symbol (need I even comment, yes folks, that’s badass) and in the process seriously pissing off the evilmost totalitarian dictator (b.a. yet again).

Next, she waxes her face and body, showers, does her hair and make-up, puts on a pretty skirt and goes to a Thanksgiving party at which at least 3/4 of the people there say mean things and three of four snicker yet she deals with it (kinda bad-ass). She goes shopping where some shoppers stare at her and the cashier calls her “sir” yet she deals with it (kinda bad-ass) and some teenage boys say rude things to her yet she deals with it (kinda bad-ass) and finally on the way to her car some shady characters inspire her to realize there’s a serious risk that they want to beat her up or worse, but she keeps her cool, gets into her car, locks it and quickly drives away, making sure she’s not being followed (kinda bad-ass).

You probably guessed it — that last paragraph wasn’t from the books. It’s from the life of many trans girls. And yes, such a life is hard, and it’s awkward. The bad parts can suck. Can such a situation feel overwhelming? Yes. But all in all, how bad is it really compared to how bad things could be, as dramatized in the movies that have prepared you mentally over many years? Maybe not that much, yes?

Let’s break it down analytically. The problem is basically that some people are mean, and hostile to a chick being trans. A subset is downright dangerous. Now, let’s mentally erase the jerks from the picture and replay these scenes, substituting the mean people with nice people. Downright nice, right?

Perhaps now it’s time to draw on the wisdom of Leon Nel, as explained to me by his daughter. She was feeling sorry for herself one day long ago, perhaps with good cause, perhaps not. Her dad suggested that if she saw a pile of dog poop and behind it a lovely sunset, then she was free to choose to focus on either or both, to any extent. I like the point he was trying to make.

As an “out” trans girl, it’s great to finally be yourself openly. It’s SO great. However, there are people who personify the dog poop in the story. If you can avoid them and de-emphasize them when you allocate your mental focus, you’ll probably find them to be an ever-more trivial part of your life to where they don’t represent hurdles, and are more like … a tiny pile of dog poop in front of a very lovely sunset.

gggIMAG8422

Male Privilege

I just read an interesting post by a trans girl who lives in a part of the US where it’s safe to say that many of the folks in power are misogynistic. She’s feeling some guilt at having had that privilege and besides, having been on the receiving end of male privilege while never being male at all, as to what counts: her brain structure.

I relate. I rose in industry in a highly misogynistic society that saw me as a male. As a trans girl, would I have had the same opportunities? No. In fact, I’d have been, quite simply, dead. As hints of my femininity shone through in spite of my efforts to conceal them, life became very dangerous for me until I moved far away from where I was living at the time. I started over, in a vastly more open-minded society … yet was it still misogynistic? Yes, just less so.

By the time I came out openly as a trans girl, I owned several businesses including a custom software development business. I was doing well enough financially. However, the economy wasn’t, and my personal economics would soon follow.

I came close to being homeless, in large part due to being utterly broke with a horrible credit record, one very cold, dark December not that long ago. Some clients and friends simply went dark permanently, when I came out as a trans girl. Whoever continued funding my work was rationally focused on their own business benefits: whether a trans girl or not, I had added much value over the years, and they knew it.  So, it made sense for them to keep me involved even though I looked, sounded and felt excruciatingly awkward. Most of the interaction with them was over the Internet and phone anyway.

My point here is that coming out puts everything to the test. I don’t know why I somehow ended just ended up with the mental image of a Terminator being hit by a flame-thrower.  Everything extraneous burns away, but the essence of what’s strong … that remains. So during transition I certainly burned away every credit I’d been given when I was thought to be male. Although a few exceptions did exist, it’s safe to say that for most of my clients, me being a trans girl was socially far lower on the social-acceptability scale than being male or a genetically integrated girl. Whatever remained, did so out of sheer merit.

So, as to any injustice a t-girl might feel she endorsed by riding the wave of male privilege however far it took her … coming out is like being mauled in the surf. It’s a grim analogy because even in less-than-knee-deep water, an able adult can nevertheless drown in the surf. If, in spite of all that, you can get up and keep going, whatever you carry with you then, you deserve.

 

Success Story #5 in Intense Mentoring: Make-Up

This is the happy story of a wonderful t-girl who openly as such, 24×7, lived with me for five months and received much in-person mentoring from me, and also from my lovely, brilliant, make-up-savvy girl-friend.

When I first met this t-girl, she had spent multiple hours getting ready to meet me. She had described herself in very non-flattering terms, but when  I met her in at the airport, I was blown away by how pretty she is. Certainly, her lovely make-up helped, sort of like how pretty icing on a pretty cake makes everything look better yet.

The first few weeks when she lived with me, she’d spent multiple hours putting on make-up and getting aesthetically ready to start her day. Granted, by the time she was ready for breakfast, she looked like a model, and I had no basis for complaining. Even so, I was concerned about how much of her energy and time was going toward this. Also, the more make-up that a girl has on, the easier it can get smudged or smeared. Indeed, this seemed to be a factor that caused her some frustrations, both when applying the make-up and during her day.

gg2015-08-06 20.21.06With the results being shown in the accompanying picture of me, my own daily make-up routine consists of 30 seconds’ worth of putting on eyebrow pencil, so between my minimalist approach and her current approach there would probably be some optimal point for her.

My girl-friend is, by my standards, lovely even with zero make-up on. However, with make-up on, she’s jaw-droppingly pretty to where it’s downright comical for me to be next to her in public and to then see the effect that she has on guys.

Anyway, she is informally a well-qualified make-up high priestess and she proceeded to mentor my t-girl protege as such. As a result, the t-girl thereafter appeared every day at the breakfast table while looking very pretty, her make-up all done — and it didn’t take her long at all. The time savings added up to many hours per week — and she looked arguably better yet than with thick make-up.

Also, her during-the-day lifestyle could be more relaxed and didn’t involve being afraid that she’d smear or smudge.

So, as to make-up, this part of mentoring was a huge success too.

Committing to SRS

Yesterday, I committed to a date for surgery “down there” (and no, I don’t mean Australia, that’s “down under”) … and the date is very far in the future, so that I can have more than enough time to first pay off my debt before I spend money on that. I’ve been slowly but steadily making progress as such …

That date is so far away that I’m surprised at how positive my anticipation nevertheless is … besides, I always thought of this as being the sort of step that’s an “extra” as in, optional … meaning, I can live with it or without it … and yet now that I’ve committed, I feel very different about it. Suddenly I value that development fiercely … much as it’s still far away.

Strange journey, this …