Saturday, September 10, 2011

Act like you own the joint

Those first few weeks after DJ came out to us, she and I took a number of roadtrips to go visit one of her brothers while he worked at the beach.  We were both eager:  she to start her new life and absorb anything and everything that would assist her in that endeavor; I to show her we supported her and to help her catch up on some of what she missed living as a boy those 15 years.

The first time she ever was going to use the women's restroom set her heart pounding.  I admittedly had some butterflies in my stomach, but I didn't feel frightened because I knew I would be with her and would verbally lay into anyone who so much as looked twice at her.  Somehow, I knew that I had to impart to her the imperativeness of believing in yourself.  If, for one second, she doubted that she would "pass", people would pick up on that like sharks pick up on blood in the water.

I told her she had to truly believe that as long as she was presenting as a young woman, she had every right to use the women's bathroom.  After all, it's not like the genitalia police would be looking up her skirt-and if they did, there would be hell to pay.  Now, keep in mind, I'm talking BIG for a reason-she HAS to believe it AND she has to know that if something were to go wrong that her parents would "save" her from whatever it was.  If she didn't know, right down to her cute little purple polished toes, that we would have her back, she might not have had the confidence to step right out as DJ, and then the sharks would circle.

She knew she was a girl, she just needed to know from someone on the "genetically correct" team that she had the right to present as a girl.  Whenever a disenfranchised people decide to stand up to the masses who might seek to keep them down, they often need assistance from insiders that are part of the masses.  That's where beloved family and friends can do important work.  We must impart to them that not only do we accept them, but that we will kick @$$ and take names from those who mistreat them.  OK, not literally, of course, although if someone ever tried to harm DJ in my presence, I would have no compunction whatsoever about putting this 47 year old body through hell to keep her safe.  Nonetheless, we all feel better knowing someone has our back.  More importantly, we feel more confidant and confidance is a transgender person's greatest accessory when it comes to "passing" as the gender with which they identify.  Hell, confidance is everyone's best accessory when we want to look and feel our best.

And sometimes, to make your transgendered family member feel confidant, you may have to show them it's ok to get a little angry about the oppression they've experienced.  A little anger can be like a propellent, at times, particularly if one feels stalled or paralyzed by fear or apprehension.  I reminded DJ that she had a right to privacy and that no one (well, the law maybe, but only with a warrant, and besides, that ain't gonna happen) has the right to invade her privacy to satisfy their curiosity about whether or not she really is a she, genetically speaking.  And furthermore, that she had a right to be selective regarding  with whom she shared her history.

That first night on our road trip, I took her out to dinner.  We did her hair and make-up;she had on a girly    t-shirt and capri pants.  She looked cute, but I could sense her apprehension as this was literally, the first time she would go out in public as her true self.  She wasn't sure she would pass.  We were seated at our table and the waiter walked up and said, "Good evening ladies,  Can I get you something to drink?"  She was still a little nervous, but beaming.  That's right baby-never let 'em see you sweat.