Allow me to recall to you that lay people lack recognising the difference between homosexual and transsexual. Further, my experience adds that people who knew me well as my male predecessor may not recognise me as I am now as Sharon, They were likely not thinking sex change – not thinking that Nick is now Sharon.
This first photograph is me at age 16 (April 1973) – a self-portrait deliberately in dark lighting as artistic effect for an 11th Grade ‘Photography’ class project. For those with a photography application have at it and make it ‘normal’; let’s see what you can do with your computer – post your results. Or look below.
This next picture with Slim and me was taken in 1976 (age 20). I did not know the term ‘stealth’ in those days, but that was what I had been doing since August 1974 when I began my transition. Neither my dad (to my left) nor any other relative had the slightest idea what I had been doing for two years as well as the future that I planned, my feminine protesting notwithstanding.
My dad, Slim, and I visited with relatives on his side of his family who reside at Follansbee, West Virginia. Their home looks Westward to the Ohio River (at the background). Do you know that view, Mary?
I came upon Cousin Nancy’s daughter Megan by serendipity about 13 years ago as we each concurrently posted requests at a genealogy web-site seeking to locate family. We (Megan, Nancy, cousin John, and I) exchanged e-mails briefly (a year or so); I sent copies of pictures taken during this visit in the course of our exchange. Eventually, they all quit replying.
I recently located their current cyber pages; I have posted many notes to their sites asking them to please contact me via my e-mail to resume our communication. Perhaps they realised who I was / am and decided my persona does not fit their notion. Nancy, remember this Elton John lyric, ‘She’s harmless and empty of anything bad …’.
I knew there were quiet rumblings of gossip at the federal agency office where I worked (December 1978 – October 1980) that had people calling me homosexual (using coarser words, actually).
Virginia, who sat across from me at work (not my later girlfriend Virginia), wasted little time making crude remarks to me and about me at work from nearly the day I started. I ignored her abuse; as we were the same age, I was willing to consider that she did not know better the difference between homosexual versus transsexual. She spread her abuse of me with other co-workers at other departments, who spread their abuse of me through still other co-workers.
Lauren was the first person who made me feel welcomed at my new job that I began December 1978 when she asked me to dance with her at my first Christmas party. I accepted her friendship. I soon learned that I made a misguided effort to befriend her. She hurt me when I saw how she joined the gossip and turned against me.
Lydia and Bonnie were among the few who made no gossip about me.
The pervasive environment was quite overwhelming, yet I could hardly go to my supervisor who truly knew something was there about me (recall, I worked in the Personnel Department and she received Social Security Administration’s discrepancy report showing me as Sharon and female while I was employed as Nick and male).
That October 1980 evening when Steve invited me to his home under his impression from work-place gossip and innuendo that purported me as homosexual was no surprise. Rather, Steve’s mention was my added confirmation to the error of their ways.
This picture to the right is what people saw in 1981 (age 25). ERT was too late to stop that shadow. Oh well, it would be gone in a few years (see below, again).
The curious epilogue to this can be when I tested my self and my past.
- I stopt for lunch years later (1985) at the diner downstairs from the apartment where I once resided at that same community. I was driving my rental truck with my belongings on my move from Utah to Tucson. The people at that diner had impugned my male predecessor derisively as homosexual throughout the time when I previously resided at my up-stairs apartment. That day years later I dined there as Sharon; the same people who knew me as Nick, saw me daily for two years as Nick, and ridiculed me as Nick, failed to recognise me as Sharon. They were not thinking in 1985 of Nick as Sharon – not thinking Nick had a sex change to Sharon.
- Another true event on that same day was at the nearby gas station. The same man who ran it when I was a neighbour was still running it in 1985. I pulled up to get gas. As I was arranging the truck to align to the gasoline pumps, he came from his office, started yelling at me, and called me crude ‘dumb broad’ kinda insult names. He saw a young woman (me) driving a rental moving truck. He and his name-calling offended me; this was where I lacked the ovaries of my spiritual friend – she of her warrior nature would have told him off and got a free drink outta that deal – ha ha ha. I was pleased to settle with the fact that he had no idea who I was. As with the diner, he knew me and saw me for two years as I presented to him as my male predecessor Nick. He had no idea that day in 1985 that I was now Sharon, this woman at his place of business. Yeh, I could have gone to another gas station, but I went to this specific gas station to deliberately test my appearance to people who knew me as my male predecessor. He was not thinking Nick had a sex change to Sharon, same as the diner.
This was not without risk. I certainly was scared at the prospect if either he or the diner figured me out.
This picture here to the right was from my Pima Community College student ID (July 1985 – age 29). This is similar whom both the diner and the gas station operator saw that day that month or so earlier.
Now don’t I appear chipper. Look, no more shadow! It’s a wonder what ERT, plucking, and electrolysis did since 1979. I boldly wore no make-up that day of student ID pictures.
This next photograph was from my Food Stamps ID card (July 1988 – age 32).
My counsellor was correct – long hair with the part in the middle made my long face appear longer. I later clipt off 14 inches and still had hair shoulder length.
As I mentioned in other posts, my federal employing agency fired me for being transsexual (1985). To make ends meet, I worked a variety of temp agency assignments and short-term employment (1985 – 1990) until I obtained a more permanent position.
Allow me to share two work experiences following my completed transition.
- I was assigned to prepare bookkeeping for a small accounting company (1986). My supervisor escorted me to introduce myself to the other employees. My heart skipt several beats as my supervisor identified one co-worker who would be arriving later – Elizabeth (she goes by ‘Chavy’). Chavy and I worked together at the same federal agency when she was a Summer intern (1980). We saw each other daily at work for three months and we developed a friendship outside work hours. Uh oh! What if she recognised me and filed a complaint or worse (I was commonly suspecting the worst). Nope. She did not recognise me at all – or at least she said nothing to me. We worked side-by-side for two months and not once did she say or ask anything – not even a whisper. She saw me only as Sharon. Of course why would she think I was that other person – Nick – a male. Can sex change be the first thought in most minds if you think you see someone who looks familiar? Chavy and I are members of a food co-op; we frequently saw each other at our co-op and she always addressed me as Sharon. Chavy never mentioned or asked about our prior time together where she knew me where I worked as a male.
- I house-sat for neighbours who frequently travelled out of town; I also took care of their horses and their two Great Dane dogs during their absence (Slim enjoyed playing with their BIG dogs). They had a son, Duane; we never met because he is one year older than I and was attending college out of town. That was during the mid-1970s. Fast forward to 1986 and another temp assignment – this time creating computerised commissary accounts. My supervisor was Duane. Again my heart lost several beats as he came to introduce himself to me. He did not recognise me – or at least did not say so. Lucky, too, that his office was distant from where I worked at the commissary store – we barely saw each other during the four months or so that I worked my assignment.
My appearance is not as the same person when comparing pictures of my ‘before’ male predecessor versus who I am now.
This picture to the right with me holding Slim (and Kathy to my right) was taken at Thasos, a Greek island near where we resided our second year (February 1973 – age 16).
Of course, I have lived nearly all my adult life as female. I have been on ERT since 1979; I feminised during all these intervening 36 years and then some. My first endocrinologist was so amazed with my changes during the first years despite offering his gloomy prospects at our early appointments; he remarked that my body transformed to the female body I was meant to have had I been born fully female.
This next picture is from my 1996 MVD drivers licence (age 40). Not bad for a picture from MVD. The MVD picture that followed this picture made me appear with no teeth. AGH! I refuse to post my current MVD picture, it is THAT bad.
I am writing that no matter how much or how little occurs or is noticed, people have limited reason to recognise transsexualism as a matter of first course if they see someone who appears familiar. In a way, people’s human nature looks for other conclusions.
Nor is our presence necessarily homosexual, though we can and do have as much variation in our attraction of a partner as any other human being. We comprehend that difference.
Allow me to add that in the first two instances, I chose to place myself in those situations to test my appearance change – I was in control. The subsequent two workplace events also tested my appearance change to people who knew me, but those environments were not at my control.
With me, my family refused to recognise my feminine protesting other than being insane – as what I posted elsewhere at this web-site including the quotes from Kathy calling me ‘crazy’ (and worse) despite all the continuing years under-going mental health counselling with professionals who verify my actual sanity.
This final photograph, for my passport, is my present appearance (age 59). The Passport agency prohibits applicants from smiling in their official picture – so I smirked. I did not want that stern look, eh.
There were days when I thought that I would never make it alive this far. I think I am aging well; I earned every grey hair that nicely frames my face. Apologetically, yes it is all mine with no receding male hairline.
To quote United States Army Brigadier General Anthony Clement McAuliffe at Bastogne: ‘NUTS’.