I have a problem.
Holy shit, do I have a problem.
As I pointed out previously, my situation here in Mississippi is not good, and I’m hardly more than a serf. My landlord is my employer’s father, and I’m not going to go into that whole situation again–you can click that link for the details–but my landlord does not know that I’m transgender. He suspects it, though, and there’s no real indication that it’s a problem–he just hasn’t seen it or dealt with it.
My employer has also not seen it, but he ostensibly doesn’t have a problem with it, and has even said he’d like to meet me. He stumbles around the terminology as much as you’d expect someone to, and that’s my biggest issue with the whole transgender thing. The terminology is absurdly clunky. However, it’s of note that he hasn’t met me–despite the initial conversations happening six months ago–and it’s always noticeably awkward when the subject is brought up.
Sunday night he emailed me this.
The house in question is literally within a hundred feet of where I live; it is on the same property. In fact, it’s so close that I use its garage to park my car under, and it’s a short walk from there to where I live. It’s seriously like right there. If I look out my bedroom window, it’s just… right there, about fifty feet away.
I replied politely and firmly, but making my position clear.
Seems like the simplest way to handle it would be to let him know I’m transgender. It will become obvious, no matter how unobservant he is. Either the cats will look out the window and pull the curtain open just at the wrong time or he’ll pop open the dryer or I’ll drop a bra while loading the dryer and not notice until I go to retrieve my dry clothes–who knows. Living with someone at that proximity, though, it is inevitable. Then it becomes an awkward, uncomfortable elephant in the room, and I don’t maintain it as a secret any longer anyway. It’s more like how I’m an atheist–I’m actually rather upfront about it, but I still know better than to tell the Good ole boys at Perimeter than I’m an atheist, so I simply don’t tell them.
It’s also inevitable because I learned today as I got a lot of really weird looks that boobs are visible beneath my t-shirt. While I knew I could no longer wear “wifebeaters,” I also can’t just throw on a t-shirt any longer.
If he wants, I’d bet my grandmother can get him a dorm. That’s not related to the preceding paragraphs. But she worked at ________for most of her life. She easily got my sister into the “good” dorm. ________ wouldn’t have wanted one of the dorms anyway unless he’s an athlete. They’d have put him in ___________, which is filled with loud, obnoxious, 18 year old people. I’ve delivered pizzas there; you couldn’t fucking pay me to live in that dorm. I’d be homeless before I did that.
More pursuant to the first two paragraphs, I live in an almost constant state of “Did I remember to…” already. I’m almost constantly going over mental checklists, to the point that I nearly freaked out walking into [a client’s] the other day because I suddenly thought I was wearing a female shirt (I have no idea why I thought that–it was an ordinary t-shirt). But that kind of thing is constantly going through my mind. “Did I remove nail polish? Did I remove eyeliner? Is mascara still there? Am I wearing the right clothes? Am I wearing the right flip-flops (yes, I have two pair, and yes, one pair is pink with flowers on them)?” Under most circumstances, I’m in a state that could best be described as “between genders.”And all this assumes that it wouldn’t be a problem for ______, though I’m obviously a pretty private person myself. Damn. Too many variables.
I was polite, but firm, in my statement that this is not something that I hide. Toward the end, as I lived with my sister, I was forced to hide in my bedroom all night every night. The entire reason that my living there came to a head was my being transgender and her unwillingness to “allow” it. So I was forced, despite paying tons of money each month in rent, to cower in my room all night every night, always ready to quickly change clothes when my nephew came and knocked on my door and barged in without waiting for an answer.
I simply will not do that again.
I don’t care if his son finds it awkward and uncomfortable. His son can either stay someplace else, or he can throw the gauntlet down to his landlord that I make him uncomfortable, and I can be forced to move. I do not care which happens, but under no circumstances will I cower in my house with the curtains drawn, not allowed to go outside at certain times of day because he’s home or whatever. I simply will not do it.
I am already enough of a prisoner here in Mississippi. There are already many places that I cannot go. I have to constantly be on guard, because too many people would recognize “my male identity” within my female one, and, yes, our clients would stop working with me over that, and the reality is that I need that money.
This would likely place the landlord in the position of having to choose between his grandson and a loyal tenant who has been living here for 8 months. I have no doubt that I’ll be told to leave. It’s happened before, and it will happen again.
There is very good reason to believe that the kid in question will not be okay with any of this. He’s evidently vehemently racist, according to his dad, and I know that his mom takes issue with me being transgender:
Of course, “more later” never came, though I explicitly asked him twice.
The same thing has happened here. He has not replied to my response. When I texted yesterday to find out if he was going to be staying down here last night, four hours passed before I got a response via text message. For four hours, I languished in a state that could best be described as “between genders” (primarily because my hair isn’t very long yet) trying to figure out whether it was safe to just be myself. That is a condition that will become permanent with a neighbor living in such proximity to me.
I talked with my landlord briefly this morning, and he suggested it’s a foregone conclusion that the guy will be living there.
I do appreciate the awkward situation my employer is in. He’s the “gatekeeper,” so to speak, but that’s a responsibility that he chose when he directly asked the question and I answered. I’ve since repeatedly made it clear that I do not live in secret any longer. I will go out in a heartbeat as my true self, and people can deal with it or not. I do not exist on their terms.
This is, however, his son, and my landlord’s grandson. That only raises the awkwardness of the situation.
And I was not the one who put us in this situation. I will not suffer for it. I will not be made into a recluse again.
I’ve been upfront and clear that I will not let this remain a secret or an elephant in the room. The guy can deal with it, or not. But I will not allow him to hide from it, because I will not hide from him.
But I’m not kidding myself.
I know how this will go down.
I’ve been down this road before, after all, with my own sister.se.