Say It

TBB had a job interview yesterday, on the phone.

We chatted before the interview, just to help her loosen up and rehearse, some improvisation and polishing. We are The Drama Queens, after all.

One of the key questions in any interview is “So, why did you leave your last job?”

TBB started talking about organizational changes and structural issues, all true.

The fact that they found a reason to let her go soon after she announced her intent to emerge as trans, well, she wasn’t going there.

We talked about it, and I suggested the line “I had some changes I needed to make in my life.” After all, they will probably check references, so hiding isn’t an option if she wants the job.

It worked in the interview, until the fellow from this “family values” organization asked “Tell me about the non-profit organizations you led.”

No way to talk about IFGE and Southern Comfort Conference without being out. So she dove right in.

“I’m a transsexual,” she said.

“My brother’s gay,” the interviewer said, “and I know how painful it is as been for him. I think I understand some of how hard it has been for you. We are an equal opportunity employer, and you definitely have the qualifications for this job. I want to recommend you to the program manager. In the end it will be his call.”

Yup. There it was. You get the big scary secret out and this fella says “queer is in my family.”

I attended a reading by Jennifer Finney Boylan last night. “Professor is the default mode,” as she said after the session, something I saw when I came in and she was going through those peculiar gymnastics we all go through before a performance, the organizing details, warming up the crowd and working through our own performance anxiety.

Jenny’s professor mode is well honed, all Irish wit and writer bravado, jokes and edge that help her manage a gaggle of students.

The reading was organized by a young transwoman who works at Borders, and she had organized a turnout of trannys that was probably less than common on this book tour, now drawing to an end.

It was that audience that opened Jenny up.  She read and read, the bigger piece, the “pu-pu” platter and all.

Then, for her “rock star” finish, she read the last four paragraphs from She’s Not There, an essay by her friend Richard Russo talking about their relationship.  The end has Russo and Jenny’s partner “Grace” waiting for her to come out from GRS, reflecting on relationships, change and durability.

It was clear that Jenny was rarely as emotional reading those lines as she was last night.  Beyond the professor, there is so much in her — a little girl, a hurting tranny, a powerful shaman and more — and some of those ghosts rose to the surface as she read the powerful words about love & connection.

A well trained trouper, she made it through, though with difficulty keeping the emotion down.  She snapped back with a little demonstration on how men and women bowed in the days of Shakespeare, and was back on form, but for that moment, I wanted to hug her and let her feel those emotions.

It didn’t look like anyone was taking her out for a burger, which I saw she needed.  That craic is important to the Irish.  I couldn’t offer; the snow was coming and my parents needed attention, not having spoken to me in 36 hours.  Besides, it’s not my strong suit, but I wished TBB was there to offer it.

Since Southern Comfort, I have been focused on the challenge of vulnerability, of being open.

I got to see two trans women open themselves yesterday, gifting themselves to the world.

They said it, and people heard it, and it was good.

And a treat for me.

Beaten To A Pulp

A reply to a list post where a crossdresser on a straight dating site heard “this one very nice woman warned me about her crossdressing cousin who was lured by a woman he/she met online & was “beaten to a pulp” by three guys she had brought along!”

Being prudent is always a good idea, no doubt.

Yet there are many urban legends out there that are designed to do the same as legends often have, to keep us small and scared of the bogie man.

It’s easy to believe that someone was lured and beaten. It plays right into the fears used to train us to keep our non-normative nature hidden or pay the price.

Maybe it’s true, maybe it isn’t. And my heart goes out to all the trannys who have been hurt, no doubt.

But I do have to wonder about how many transpeople missed a chance at love just because they were afraid, or, better yet, how many trannys found love and whose stories weren’t heard while we tell the story of one who found hate.

I don’t know the truth here, but I do know that for women, love sometimes can turn dangerous. Heck, for men love can sometimes turn dangerous.

But I hope that isn’t a reason to hide from all love. We need it too much.

Be prudent, be sensible.

But don’t be scared small, eh?