A big challenge for transpeople is that we don’t just live in our own confidence, we live in the confidence of others.
To many people, transgender expression is just a con trick, a confidence game designed to deceive them. We are just poseurs trying to deceive them about our sex and that means they must always be vigilant and protected around us, always ready to take us down a peg.
ShamanGal went for the typical birthday lunch at work. In this case, though, it was her birthday. When the cheque came, the guys all paid their own bill and left, leaving SG’s girlfriend a miffed over cheap guys who didn’t choose to split the birthday girls tab.
As a transwoman, SG knew the score. Her girlfriends see her as another woman, but the guys have decided to see her as a guy-in-a-dress, not on either team. The might pitch in for one of the guys, or for one of the gals, but for one of the trannys? No thanks.
SG just came out to a woman at work because the fact she was trans was important to understanding the story she was sharing about how another co-worker treated her. The gal was surprised by her history, but not disapproving, because she is used to valuing other women for their choices, not for what is in their panties.
Still,though, when SG thinks about going back to a masseur she went to while she was passing as a guy, she imagines bringing her court order of name change, of demanding they comply with the paperwork.
This is a very Emily Howard choice. Our documents say what they say, but they don’t make other people experience us as a woman.
We have to gain their confidence in order for them to see us as a woman. We know, though, that if the facts of our birth status come out, that may erase all the confidence people have in our expression.
The more others see our choices as feminine, charming and attractive, the more they may feel the need to wall us off, to defend themselves or even to attack us. This is why we often stick to making neutral or small choices, just so we don’t trigger the fears of others.
How can we ever build our own confidence in being able to turn our thoughts into actions which create success if we have been taught that other people have been trained to see us as liars, that they are actively working not to be conned by us? The more credible we become, the more aggressive they have to be in their resistance to us.
As long as our biology and the training we got because of that biology always trump our choices, how can we ever have hope that our actions can change our experience in the world?
There is no way that we can change our world without confidence. It is ShamanGal’s increasingly confident & assured woman choices in the world that allow other women to see her as not only one of them but also a leader who has valuable knowledge to share.
Gaining the confidence of others who are determined to stay fixed in their own gender identity by rejecting action for the “truth” of biology, who are out to silence anyone who dares to mock the gender system that they paid so much to gain status in, well, that feels like a Sisyphean task, impossible and therefore not worth the effort and cost.
While our confidence can help us achieve mastery, the primary benefit of confidence in the world is how it engenders other people’s confidence in us. When we are confident, others become confident in us, giving us credibility and trust.
When we are seen as confidence tricksters, though, others feel entitled and even obligated to blast away at us, working to remove our standing and safety in the world.
The world changes. More and more people are understanding trans expression as truth expression, not an attempt to deceive people about our sex but rather us working hard to share the deep and tender truth of our heart.
That doesn’t stop heterosexist assumptions and policing of the gender system, with plenty of “really a guy trying to fool us, so he deserves whatever he gets!”
Transpeople know how to play small, to stay neutral, to not take power, to not believe in their power to change their own world. We know how to have our own confidence broken by the bear who lives in the closet with us.
We don’t live in just our own confidence, we also live in the confidence of others.
For transpeople, that can be a very scary place.