“And all of a sudden I felt really tired. Like the world had drained me of everything I had.”
It’s been a couple of weeks since I have posted anything and, honestly, I’m surprised my sponsors haven’t fed me to the wolves. This is very uncharacteristic of me. But having said that, I am going to say that it’s not been a matter of choice or avoidance. It’s just been a matter of total mental exhaustion.
I may have shared this before, but transitioning is an exhausting endeavor. It kind of goes through phases of what is wearing on you and every since my surgery, I have been living in this state of total mental exhaustion. Immediately following surgery, it was a combination of the healing, anxiety about how the world would react to me and just trying to get everything in place so I could have the smoothest transition to living as the real me as possible.
The next stage was the return to work and showing the world the real me. That came with it’s own aspects of mental exhaustion. Then, it was me being overwhelmed by the support, the compliments, etc. I think a lot of people looked at me like I was crazy when I said it was wearing me out. Of course, I also had the battles with IT and HR going on at that time (and are STILL going on) which added to the exhaustion.
Since then, it’s moved into this new phase. When I was talking with a friend about this the other day, she said she thought everything would be great and that I would feel so liberated by the fact I was finally living as me. Well, living as me IS liberating. I’m not trying to take away from that because that is a wonderful thing. But for as much as I was ready to be me, there is still a whole world adjusting to this real me and that beings it’s own set of challenges.
I am still getting the 20 questions from people as I disclose at work, and to people outside of work who I just never got the opportunity to tell prior to living full time. It’s not that I mind helping people understand more. I mean, hell…I have been writing about my transitioning here for how long now? It’s just more, after a while, you get tired of answering the, “How long have you known?” “What made you decide to do this now?” “Why did you wait so long?” and so many other questions that you routinely get when you disclose. After so many weeks of answering the same questions, you still to feel like a vendor at a trade show who has had to explain about their products for 16 hours a day for 5 days straight, if that gives you an idea of what it’s like. It takes a lot out of you.
The other part that has become so exhausting…it’s supporting others when they misgender or misname me.
At work, the one blessing I have is that people have been incredibly supportive of me in my transition. What’s been hard though is as everyone tries to be supportive, I’ve had to spend a significant amount of time emotionally supporting others for the honest mistakes with my name and gender. Here is an example of what I mean and what I encounter almost every day at work.
Last Tuesday, I was in a committee meeting via Zoom. The three co-chairs of this committee are all very dear friends of mine. All three of them are three of the first five people I disclosed to. I know they support me 127546% and would find some way to secretly murder anyone who attacked me. So, we were about five minutes into the meeting last Tuesday and we were covering as safety event that my team was a part of (thankfully, we did everything right). So as we were talking about the event, one of the chairs made a statement about the event and how she and I had been working on education for months. Only problem was, when she mentioned my name, she initially used my former name. Now, she immediately apologized on Zoom, corrected herself and went on talking about the topic. To me, all was good…an honest mistake had been made…and we were moving forward. In my mind, she set the perfect example of how people should respond if they misname/misgender me.
Only problem was, as soon as she got done talking, my phone immediately blew up with five different apology messages form her.
For the next half hour of the meeting, while everyone was talking away on Zoom, she was constantly apologizing to me. During that half hour, I kept reassuring her that all was fine. I kept reassuring her that she set the perfect example of how people should respond if they do make a mistake. I kept reassuring that after all of these years of knowing me one way…these mistakes were going to happen. But the apologies kept coming…
I don’t hold anything against my friend or anyone who wants to make sure they are respecting those of us in transition. The hard part though is when an apology turns into this long, drawn out discussion where I, the person transitioning, has to spend a significant amount of time emotionally supporting someone else for an honest mistake…especially after you have assured them there was no offense taken. It becomes even more exhausting when you are having to do this multiple times per day…and even having to repeat this cycle with the same people multiple times.
I know part of the reason for this behavior is the result of those in the transgender community who aren’t as forgiving when people make honest mistakes. There is another transwoman on my team who takes EVERYTHING personally, even from those who have no ill will towards her. It makes it much harder on people like myself who get the fact mistakes will happen. It’s a matter of people finding that balance…both those who accidently misgender/misname and those of us who are transitioning.
I am trying to help people understand that with me, once you apologize, all is good with me. That one apology is all that I need and I can always tell what’s a microaggression vs an honest mistake. With me, if you give a sincere apology, all is good and give yourself some slack. Not to sound selfish, but it takes enough emotional energy for me to make it through my days on a good day. I don’t have a ton of energy to help people work through honest mistakes. That’s not to be mean…but I assure you that if I say you are forgiven or there is nothing it worry about, I mean it and I am good. If there is a problem, then or down the road, I will let you know politely and privately.
More than that and the apology is like beating a dead horse and, in the end…I feel like the dead horse…
See it on Flickr.
Diversion – Ponder