This evening, my mom and I were enjoying a car-ride through the city, when the subject turned (as it inevitably must and shall) to my employment; more particularly, to my present lack thereof.
“When you go to this summer school in France,” my mom asked, “will you being going as James or as Jaime?”
“Jaime,” I replied. This was the name that I had put on my applications and correspondence; I even told them outright that I was a trans woman*.
My mom sighed. “And you hope to network while you’re there; make business contacts?”
“That’s the plan.”
“You’re going to make it very difficult on yourself. People in my generation…we think of transgenders as being ill, because that’s all that we see on TV. Before you, the only transgender people I knew were homeless. I know that someone in my generation would preferentially hire a non-transgender person, and I have never met a transgender person with a professional career.”
She went on to suggest that I apply for jobs as male, ingratiate myself to local community, and then, only after getting a lock on job security, come out as trans. This I cannot do; submerging my identity for months or years at a time would not be possible (and if any of you cis readers have difficulty understanding why, I invite you to try pretending to be someone else for every public moment of the next year); even after a few days, my life starts to lose meaning.
But I’m not going to lie; these comments did cut me deeply for one very simple reason: the premise behind them–the claim that society is biased against people like me–is objectively true. And I don’t even feel that I can talk to my trans friends for advice, because all of them pass so well–something that I will never be able to do.
I know that the fault is not with me; that it is the world that is flawed. But how can I ever hope to change the world if I can’t even make enough money to live.
I feel like I am trapped.
*My mom is somewhat more accepting of my transition than is my father, but she is not comfortable with it. I suspect that, at some level, she actually thinks that it makes sense, but will not admit it. As for my father, we’ve reached an uneasy truce based on the understanding that I know that he doesn’t approve and he knows that I’m not going to change my mind anyways, so there’s little point discussing it further.