Monday, July 14, 2008

trying not to sweat the small stuff

I just got a rejection letter for a job that I'd applied for and been genuinely excited and hopeful about- interesting field, new step for me, I've the relevant experience that made me expect to get an interview, etc. I'm naturally bummed about it, but what takes it just that one step beyond is the niggling worry that possibly, just possibly, I didn't get an interview because I outed myself as trans in my application.

Now, I realize that this thinking is way paranoid. It's entirely conceivable that my 'outing' myself from my perspective didn't even register for a non-trans-conscious HR person. Wanting to demonstrate my history of activism and workshop leadership skills, I put down TransMasculine Community Network: Member and National Trans Health Conference: Workshop Organizer on my resume. To me, and most GLBT-savvy folks, that screams "Trans guy!"

But since I also mentioned Gay-Straight Alliance: Founder, I suppose it's possible they could've just thought me regular old gay, and just super involved on behalf of all the letters of the GLBT community. And honestly, there ARE non-trans folks who are members of the TMC Network, and who presented at the Trans Health Conference.

Not to mention the fact that it's a bit much to jump to the conclusion that I didn't get an interview because the search committee didn't want to deal with a possibly Scary Tranny (my "passing" privilege or cissexual privilege -aka the fact that I am consistently perceived as male- doesn't come through on paper). It's most likely that the committee just had a bevy of qualified applicants, and picked the ones that had more experience or whatnot- and in this sketchy economy, I'm sure there's a glut of good applicants for every reasonably interesting job.

Still, I count it as one more tiny piece of transsexual baggage that I'm always going to have the voice in my head that worries about whether my transsexuality (or even just my commitment to trans equality) was perceived and held against me.

It reminds me of an interesting conversation I observed recently about trans guys and body image issues. For many of us, we've got the same ol' body image issues as most guys have (hairline receding! gut! scrawny arms and legs! ack!), but there's a deeper underlying issue of dysphore for us that nurtures and goads those issues.

Sure, almost everyone looks in the mirror and finds something to take issue with. But most guys don't look in the mirror and see flaws that bring up the specter of (in my case) femaleness- not to put too melodramatic a point on it! But seriously, my angst about my love handles isn't just run of the mill love-handle-phobia, but is actually fairly inextricably layered with my angst about those love handles also accentuating my wide ("feminine/female") hips- another reminder of a body that I've had to wrestle with for years, and another point used against me for years when strangers looked for cues as to my gender and usually found those 'female' secondary sex characteristics pointing them in the wrong direction- much to my dismay, embarrassment, frustration, etc.

So, while sometimes a love handle is just a frustrating component of my summer beach body, sometimes it inexorably brings up bigger, more upsetting issues, and oh man, what'd I give for some old fashioned non-gender-dysphoria related body issues.


Last but not least, I come to my other salt-in-the-wound trans moment of the day, which was that a coworker called to say she'd be late because she was held up at the Red Cross Blood Drive, waiting in line to give blood. Darn it, I wish I could still give blood! I really believe in it as an important civic contribution, and I'm not really convinced that the reasons given to me by the NY Blood Center as to why I should not give blood are valid. It's possible when I leave NYC I may try to donate again, since not all blood centers in the US have the same rules about differentiating between male and female plasma, but the guy told me I'd been put on a "permanently deferred donor" list for New York, and I suspect that those lists are shared nationwide via social security number or some such.



Duda said...

Hi Guy, Here in Brazil give blood is completly denied to gay people. I think just lesbians can do, because they dont do unsafe sex ( here in Brazil, the straights thinking wich all gay do unsafe sex and they only safe sex). But I think all trans (male or female) are forbidden.
About the job, dont worry, Its a Bush's foult, just a economical crisis, a lot of people searching job too.

Trope said...

oh man, what'd I give for some old fashioned non-gender-dysphoria related body issues.

Dude, you can have mine. Though I'm not sure swapping would really work. :)
I am hiring a whole slew of people right now for a new department, and I agree that it is maddening not to really KNOW what makes or breaks an application, both for the person applying and the person screening the apps. I'm in a field where I would read your activities and say, "Ooo!" but if you misspelled a word, you'd probably get shuffled to the bottom of the stack... everyone is different in their expectations, and the job hunt is really a roller coaster ride. I hope the next app goes better, and the right post presents itself.
(I just started lurking a week ago or so. Hi!)

kkryno said...

Hi! I found you in a round about way through Mimi's blog. I hope you don't mind my participation. I find you an articulate and very interesting person. That, and how you treat others should be the only criteria a person is judged on. (Okay, that and work ethic and how you are around kids and animals!) Being judged on your sexual preference, or your desired or achieved trans status is wrong, and people miss the opportunity to possibly make a life-long friend when they let fear of our differences rule our actions. People are people, and people NEED people. On the job front, the right one is waiting for you. There's a good reason why that one didn't pan out, so don't despair. :)

Eli said...

hey Duda, it's similar here in the US- officially, gay men are forbidden from giving blood, too!

Eli said...

Thanks, all, for the job reassurances!

Trope said...

It was Mimi Smartypants! That's how I found you! Thanks to kkryno for the reminder, I've been grating my brain trying to remember...

Anyway, hi. Again. That's where I'm from; not a random stalker.

lunatopaz said...

i'm not a guy, so i can't say for sure, but i think you might be underestimating the "spectre of femaleness" coming up in some (many?) cisssexual men's body issues. while, clearly, it's not exactly the same, i think you should know about a few friends of mine in high school. one was worried about his soft, round face. another loved his long, curly hair, but constantly felt pressure to cut it off. the last wore gigantic t-shirts to hide his breasts. i also wonder about shorter guys.

anyway, just saying.

thanks for the enlightening post.

lunatopaz said...


i just reread your post, and i want to make it clear that i do understand (to the degree that i can) and separate gender dysphoric body issues from cissexual guys' body issues. i guess that i was just trying to point out that gender is still involved for many guys. (the possible underlying misogyny is something to examine later, but) my point was that my three guy friends in high school were worried about looking too feminine.