The best IT consultant I know has observed that, too often, IT professionals know what the right thing is to do and yet it doesn’t happen. For example, they work in a programming department whose programmers rush off and write program code prematurely — before being clear on the requirements. This is a bad idea. Requirements should precede the writing of program code.
And yet, the savvy folks are hesitant to start enacting process improvements, and they try to nudge the non-caring people around them into a sort of consensus. Unfortunately, the non-caring people around them are typically a major part of the problem, so the “change” process gets bogged down. The person who could (and in my opinion, should) be taking the lead — feels frustrated.
I’m not saying you should start to pretend you’re the boss. But you ARE the boss of how YOU do things. And doing things in a logical way that you’re able to explain — that should get you rewarded, not reprimanded. Otherwise, you’re working in an unhealthy environment anyway, so — maybe it’s better if you leave.
Feeling that they’re held back by the ignorance of others is a common lament, especially for principled, smart people. They know how to make things better and yet they’re surrounded by people who passively resist, and who plod along and do things in a particular way because, hey, it’s always been done like that, don’t fix it if it ain’t broken, and all the other pretexts that people use to defend the status quo. Ayn Rand wittily referred to that mindset as promoting “the Divine Right of Stagnation.”
My brilliant consultant friend implies that if you wait for others to be sufficiently encouraging, it’s going to be a very slow, frustrating process for you. His point is that you don’t need anyone’s permission to do the right thing. Probably that’s very similar to what MLK has said. And, I agree.
For example, when someone comes out as a t-girl, she’s likely to be sensitive as to how receptive those around her are, and she starts lobbying them to be more receptive yet. That’s good, but that should be only a relatively minor of the process. Having the courage of your own convictions goes a long way, and so does conveying that by living accordingly. By contrast, coming across as timid or overly accommodating tends to encourage opposition.
My recommendation is to plan the journey and move along. If that means that you leave some people behind, then you do. Some of my friends and family, whom I thought likely to be reasonable about me being a t-girl … they ended up being UNreasonable, and vice versa. You don’t know how things will play out, until you proceed.
By saying “proceed” I am including “be safe.” If you’re in a hostile culture, with dangerous, homophobic bullies around — then leave. No, it’s not easy, but it’s often the best way.
At some point, my own mom was (understandably) having a hard time with the concept of her thought-to-be-son always having really been her daughter instead.
Even so, I didn’t need her permission to be who I am, and to live as such. When it became abundantly clear to me that I was no longer providing information to her but that I was basically arguing with her, I stopped. I went on with my life and I reduced the interaction with her as much as I needed to, to keep it from holding me back. I did the same thing with other people.
Coming out as a t-girl is hard enough already. If I were to add more and more impediments along the way, at some point then I’ve made my own journey impossibly hard — and that’s my own doing.
For example, if you think your brothers and dad would never accept you being a girl, and from here on out, Thanksgiving and family holidays would be hell for you, then …
a). You don’t know until you try, and you can’t just assume the worst about them
b) If your worst suspicions come true, then you don’t have to put up with abuse. If someone makes Thanksgiving and family holidays hell for you, or even just awkward, then they shouldn’t be there, or you shouldn’t be there.
For example, this last Christmas, I had a wonderful time. I checked into the Treasure Island Casino Hotel in Las Vegas for two nights and enjoyed being in an open-minded culture. And yes, I was alone — but not lonely.
Moving forward doesn’t mean that you stop loving the people you leave behind. They’re welcome to catch up, and sometimes they do. My own mom did, and I’m glad. But by the time that the relationship resumed at a more-normal level of interaction, I’d moved along very far in my journey, and that’s the approach I recommend.
I’m in the IT business (amongst other things) and some of my clients are very conservative, e.g., in the construction industry. And yet, I moved ahead. When there were two contact people at a client company, one more open-minded than the other, then I focused on the former. In general, things went well, as to the people who deal with me professionally. And whenever they didn’t, then I still kept moving along anyway. The same approach applied to my personal relationships.
A key point is that I’m not pretending to be Cinderella or the Tooth Fairy and that I’m asking everyone to please humor me by playing along. The most reasonable conclusion about my situation is that I do, in fact, have female brain wiring. If you consider brain structure as more fundamental than body shape ‘down there,’ then I’m fundamentally a girl. Everything else is less-essential, and many less-essential things can change. And for me, they already have.
The era is, fortunately, past when being a t-girl can with any reasonable premise be thought of as meaning that there’s something wrong with the person. Being a t-girl is simply a genetic anomaly — it has zero reflection on a person’s mental health and moral standing.
Of course, the most ignorant members of society would disagree. However, what they think — that really matters very little in the grand scheme of things. If you find them holding you back, then it’s time to change things, whatever it takes, so that you can keep moving forward — from living like a pretend male to living as the girl that you actually, fundamentally are.
One example pertains to changing one’s name. It’s a step that many t-girls look forward to, but for them it’s in the future. My recommendation is that once you’ve decided on a new name, then that’s your new name, period. Congratulations, you’ve changed your name. Everything else is secondary.
So, it’s never a question of “I want to change my name to Karen” but simply “my name is Karen.” If it’s appropriate then the t-girl might then add to what extent the legal paperwork and social context are aware of Karen, but that’s secondary.
Announcing the new name to the most receptive people is a good next step. So is getting a new email address.
I used to think that things became official when the judge signs the paperwork and in a sense it does, and yet in another sense, it also doesn’t.
I started referring to myself as “Tanya” and pretty soon almost everyone was dealing with me as such anyway. The judge’s signature became almost an administrative detail in practical terms.
In fact, ironically, a wise friend commented on my new name in a way that got me to thinking that perhaps Tanya is sort of overly informal for my official name, so I made my official name “Aquitania” instead — though I go by “Tanya.” By then, there was so much momentum behind “Tanya” that it wasn’t an easy change of direction.
When you keep pushing in a particular direction, things tend to move in that direction — especially when you remove from the process those who hold you back or who push in the opposite direction.
Tolerating impediments delays the process of coming out, and delaying it makes it harder. It’s awkward in the middle, very much like being an awkward teenager again. Get it over with.
If I were to come out again, I’d do it sooner and faster — and I’d leave far more people behind.