Me, Doing Just Fine, as a Female IT Geek

I am having a weird day. My mom is generally wonderful but her computer skills are the equivalent of someone who will accept candy from strangers and then get into their unmarked van just because they said they’re good guys and it’s time for her medical examination besides. Geez, mom.

Anyway, she recently did something or other again and so today her computer is having a meltdown and I’m kinda burned out on being called for reasons she considers urgent and I don’t, so I’m not as available to her by phone as I used to be. Conversations on the subject are mutually stressful, and this morning there was one more like that. I hate mother-daughter conflict. Grrr.

Meanwhile, while my mom was having her email crisis and mother-daughter crisis and adding to my stress level, my biggest IT client, with 30 or so people affected by the problem, was also having an IT issue. My software didn’t cause it, but my software is the messenger of the underlying problem, so it looks like my software is messing up. Analogy: part of the road has vanished, and the traffic lights show “red” in every direction, and so the car I built can’t proceed and the passengers are saying “fix the car, Tanya.”  Grrr.

Anyway, I have a good business relationship with the infrastructure people at the client site and so I worked with their local hardware guru to get the actual machine running again, which is sort of like saying “please fix the road” but then a vendor’s infrastructure software was down too. So, next I had to do the equivalent of working with the traffic light vendor so that every intersection no longer has a red light in every direction.

I know the vendor is located in Alabama which is kind of as “Deep South” as you can imagine, but they’re really nice people. Their support guy, Chuck, is especially nice. And, here I am, a t-girl whose new feminized voice is not the attribute she’s most confident about, especially when I’m already stressed out. And so, now I have to have a deeply geeky conversation with a Deep South gentleman who’s maybe 60 — and on this conversation depends the productivity of my main client. Grrrr.

So, while waiting for Chuck, the support gentleman, to call me back, I listened to some Susanna Hoffs music since her voice has extra-inspiring resonance, and resonance is my voice’s weakest attribute. Plus, I did some extra voice exercises to be ready for the call.

If someone thinks I’m male, then pretty soon the generally female way that I have of speaking, resonance or no, is going to be pretty disconcerting to that person, so it’s actually less confusing for both parties to proceed on the premise that I’m female, though granted — I’m a t-girl and I had a hormone problem starting at puberty. Before puberty, people called me “ma’am,” no problem. I wish I could just go back to that.

Nowadays I have to work hard at sounding like “ma’am.” Most days I sound kind of in the middle between “Sir” and “Ma’am” to male ears. Ironically, to female ears I sound a lot more like “ma’am.” Anyway, people guess and often they guess “male” even though I’m trying really hard to manage the resonance, pitch, spacing, pacing, phrasing, tone, vocabulary and the other half-dozen attributes so as to make my voice sound, well, as female as I fundamentally am.

I used to not be able to speak at all, period, so if I could learn that, then probably I’m also smart enough to learn how to sound like a female. And, since more than half the time people naturally guess I’m a female, I’m certainly making progress.

Anyway, the gentleman called. I answered the phone, and it was a scratchy connection. He guessed, and called me “Sir.”  Grrrr.

Well, dammit, if someone mistakenly thinks I’m the reincarnation of Genghis Khan then I’m not going to humor that person and play along for the remainder of that conversation or relationship. Fact is, I really am not a reincarnation of Genghis Khan. Pretending to be isn’t really polite. It’s dumb, and misleading.

I’ve had to make peace with the premise that being a t-girl means that I am, in fact, fundamentally a girl, even if I was born with a male-shaped body parts ‘down there’ that would suggest otherwise, and even if I need voice training so as to sound female. My issues, at worst, make me look or sound goofy. They don’t make me male. I sound girly enough that at worst I’m sort of in-the-middle-sounding, at the point where it’s really anyone’s guess. And when I’m self-conscious, then ironically, I sound less female. Today was a weird and stressful day for me anyway and so, yes, I felt self-conscious.

Going along and pretending to be “Sir” just to humor Chuck wasn’t a good option.  So, I said “It’s not Sir, it’s Ma’am” and through the bad phone connection, he said “I’m sorry, Sir, I didn’t hear what you’re saying?” Grrrrr.

Maybe I channelled Susanna Hoffs’s spirit just enough, because I then said in the most female-sounding voice I can muster: “you just called me Sir, but it’s Ma’am” and he apologized and from them on “Ma’am” it was, and I sounded all girly from then on and we got the problem fixed pronto.

On to the next crisis.

 

Feminized Speech – Flowing

Feminized speech has nine separate elements, and it’s daunting to learn them all, especially in combination.  Yet, relearning how to speak as a girl is a key part of transitioning successfully, i.e., from being a girl who sounds like a guy, to being better-integrated instead.

I’ve been struggling with this issue, and I recently had an “aha” moment.  Here’s what I learned:

Guys tend to separate words by putting spaces between them, audibly. That tends to make for choppy speech. Example: “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” would be enunciated like that, spaces and all.  Guys also tend to de-emphasize consonants, especially at the ends of words or syllables, so the effect is more of a mumble, so the phrase might in an extreme example be enunciated as: “the quig brow faw jum oh the lazy daw”.

Girls tend to omit spaces between words so that the words all run together. That tends to make for flowing speech. Example: “thequickbrownfoxjumpsoverthelazydog” would be enunciated like that, with no spaces. Girls also tend to emphasize consonants, especially at the ends of words or syllables, with the effect that words and syllables are delineated as such, so the phrase might in an extreme example be enunciated as: “thequicKbrowNfoXjumpSoveRthelaZydoG.”  Imagine the last consonant of a syllable such as the “G” in “doG” being emphasized as if the heel of a stiletto were planted down firmly and ground into the floor a little.

As to enunciating better, I still have a long way to go, but the understanding of this particular principle has helped me a lot.

My romantic partner has wisely suggested that I think of male speech as if written in printed lettering, and female speech as if written in cursive.  That was very useful!

Normal Life … as a Girl

The day before yesterday I was looking like I normally do, nowadays: long blonde hair, make-up, female clothes and female shoes. I was at the mall, looking at the directory. A security guard approached, politely called me “ma’am” and asked me if he could help. I thanked him, and my voice sounded as feminine as I looked.

Later, he saw me walking in the wrong direction by mistake, and he again hailed me as “ma’am” and pointed out that I was walking into a construction zone. It is SO great to look like a lady and also to have my voice not detract from it. Voice training is finally paying off. Kathe Perez and Melanie Ann Philips both have my eternal gratitude.

That evening, I took some pictures of me and didn’t like my look. I took 30 shots and liked maybe 5.

Today, I did NOTHING good to my hair. It isn’t even clean. I’ve been working on cars all day, in the hot sun. Part of this involved lying underneath a car, and my hair got all dusty and dirty. And yet, it looks like I’m ready for a supermodel shoot. I have just taken off my top and stood in front of the mirror, observing critically. A tall, athletic blonde smiled back at me, with nice abs, an hourglassy figure due to a slim waist, and with supermodel hair. I really liked what I saw.

I mentioned this to a wonderful genetic girl who is also a wonderful romantic partner — how disconcerting it is to really dislike my own looks one day and then love them two days later. She reassured me that she’s the same way, about her own looks.

And so this is what life is like, as a girl.

I’m happy to be here.

Visual Success, Being “Sirred” by Nice People, and Sounding Like the Girl I am

I seem to have “the look” down well enough. due to my dress code, make-up, facial features, physique and demeanor.

I went to a restaurant last night with three genetically integrated girls, and the waitress referred to us multiple times as “ladies.” I liked crossing the “looks” barrier and simply looking like the girl I am.

* * *

I also explained my situation to the service writer at the local automobile dealership where I had bought my car six years ago.  Over the years, he’d become a friend, not just an acquaintance.

This visit, although I didn’t have much make-up on, I looked very feminized, and he complimented me on how good I look even before I explained that I’d come to realize that I’m transgender.  He was wonderfully supportive. He explained that if he should change my name in their system, he’d be happy to, and he congratulated me twice on having figured this out and proceeding with changing my looks.

Then, with supreme irony, he continued addressing me as “Sir.”  So do many people who have known me for years and are positive and supportive. It’s really hard for them to throw the mental switch.

A friend of mine is a transgender guy. He looks and sounds as male as anyone I know, and yet even after he had reached that point, the people from his past still referred to him with female pronouns.  His girlfriend got quite upset wit them until he explained to her that it wasn’t that they were being mean; the relevant people were very supportive.  It was just a supremely hard habit for them to break.  So, part of my new horizons involves meeting new people and being known to them from “day one” as, simply, Tanya,

* * *

In the very beginning, when I started dressing and putting on make-up consistent with the girl I am, I felt horribly self-conscious and awkward when going out in public.  Nowadays, I actually feel proud and I enjoy being out and about.

Me, at my office

But, as to my voice, the moment I have to say something, I’m still wary because I still don’t sound like a girl, and I know it. How a person sounds is really important.  I wish I’d worked on my voice training much sooner and much more enthusiastically.

So, although I feel fine about my looks, I feel self-conscious about how I sound. Last night I made a point of listening to not just what my female dinner companions were saying, but how they were saying it.  Their voices were very high-pitched, and nasal, and yet lovely.  When I try to sound like that, I feel like I’m doing a bad imitation of Donald Duck.

There’s a lot of work ahead.