Trans Toxicity

Connie (below) responded to the Cyrsti’s Condo recent post concerning me connecting with one of my previous employees, or more precisely…she contacted me. 

Here is the comment:

“Even in this very left-leaning city of Seattle, there are pockets of toxicity. One needs only to drive a few miles out of town to find it, as well. I’ve had my share of “Dude Looks Like a Lady” and “Lola” experiences, myself. Nobody needed to tell me that my business would have suffered, had I come out, as I depended on the patronage of building contractors (not always the most liberal-thinking people). My own dysphoria ended up sabotaging my business, so that (I thought) I could move forward with my transition. Ironically, this caused a great hindrance for me to have the finances with which to do so.

 Securing any kind of employment as a woman became more difficult, not only because I was trans, but I couldn’t even provide references without outing myself to past, present and future business associates in the process. There exists a passive toxicity, in that most employers will consider the possibility of drama that could accompany the hiring of a trans woman – especially for a management position. Basically, I’ve only been able to find low-paying jobs with no opportunity for advancement. In fact, the only thing advanced about me is my age, and that just makes the whole thing worse.

 I changed my name and gender, legally, in 2015, when I was 63-years-old. I had thought about delaying the changes in order to secure employment, as my male self, with a company that I knew would have accommodated my transition later. I know people who have done this successfully, yet I just felt it to be wrong for me. It felt, to me, like going through the back door, rather than being the honest and straightforward person (woman) I wanted to be. After all, I had been living a lie for so many years, and I was just plain tired playing that game of deception. The game itself is toxic – and of my own creation. Just as transphobia can be internalized, so can the toxicity. Sometimes, I think, moving away from toxicity involves more than finding a new location. It can also mean that we have to let go of those internal demons that keep us from moving forward – not only with transitioning, but with life.”

Thanks for the comment! To be sure, you are right, the transgender journey we have pursued is by nature full of toxicity. 

I was fortunate in that when I decided to do my MTF gender transition, I had the resources (barely) to just retire and go on to change my life. Then again, along the way, I considered the feasibility of joining a new company and then transitioning. But at that time the restaurant business I was part of was a very conservative patriarchal industry. So, starting over in a new profession as I transitioned was even more daunting. 

The toxicity levels I was about to face were tremendous. I took the easy way out and didn’t face them at all.