Someone nice just asked, in a forum for transgender girls, how we deal with being discriminated against, in the workplace. Here’s my reply:
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I’m probably in the very worst part of the paradigm because I’m no longer a hot-looking 18-year old. I’m at an age when people are less forgiving. Let’s just say that when someone thinks I’m in my early 30s then I take it as a huge compliment.
I also look androgynous, neither totally male nor totally female. My looks and voice are all sort of “in the middle.” And, that makes many people uncomfortable. It even makes ME uncomfortable. I can hardly wait to simply look and sound 95%+ like the girl who I basically am, brain-wise. But, I can’t hide in a cave until then.
Just last week I went to a large Silicon valley manufacturing company to see if they wanted to start a new software project, for which my hourly bill rate is $5 more than what I charge when I do private strip shows ($165 vs $160). These are high numbers because I happen to be good at, and in demand for, both. That’s a key point — be good at it. As Abraham Lincoln said: “whatever you are, be a good one.”
My prospective client was a middle-aged gentleman. So, I had pretty much all the odds against me, including that I don’t keep things secret so if he poked around on the Internet he could probably see that I don’t just make software but also take off my clothes in exchange for money. I warned him up front that I’m transgender. He seemed OK with it.
We met and we focused on his software, and pretty soon, that was all that mattered. He was facing some difficult choices, and I gave him some very helpful information, and I can see that he appreciated that. He asked me for a proposal, I sent it, and he just emailed me and it looks like he’s going to proceed with involving me in the project. So, even if things seem intimidating, if we let ourselves get intimidated, we’ll fail.
Whenever I wanna feel sorry for myself I think of that scene in Saving Private Ryan when brave US soldiers stormed Normandy. If they had the guts to do that, and bought my freedom with their blood, then I have no excuse for being less brave as I go about facing the challenges of finding the few nice clients and people who are willing to deal with me on merit as opposed to being preoccupied with how I look and sound. I have objective value to add and if I find those who value me for that, I can thrive.
Another recent example was me selling a used car on a forum dominated by male subculture. I mentioned I’m a girl, someone asked for pics and I cautioned that I’m a t-girl so if they really wanna see pics, make sure they know what they’re asking for. They responded as in “I’m such a kidder” and I explained that no, I’m serious. They got serious too, and respectfully so. Others chimed in. It was mentioned that if I’m that open and honest about my personal situation then probably I’m also like that about my car and that is a good thing.
So, is it hard? Yes. But, the key issue for me is to reject those who reject transgender girls. I surround myself with those who value me. I actively avoid those who don’t like me. Sadly, that includes my own mother. I haven’t seen her in many months. But, I refuse to deal with someone who brings be down. If I do that, and I end up depressed, I deserve no sympathy.
There are more than enough nice-to-me people and those are whom I focus on. And that makes for a more successful personal and professional life.