Business before pleasure.
Our spirit friend Cara is messenger bearing bad news.
- ‘Transgender Woman Killed in Wichita’ – Sunnivie Brydum (3 May 16, 1:40 pm EDT)
- ‘A 16-year-old is in custody after allegedly fatally stabbing Tyreece “Reecey” Walker in her own home Sunday night.’
- ‘A 16-year-old boy is facing second-degree murder charges after allegedly stabbing to death a 32-year-old transgender woman in Wichita, Kansas on Sunday, reports Wichita news station KAKE.’
- ‘Police identified the victim using male pronouns and the name Tyreece Walker, though friends and family of the deceased told police that Walker identified as a transgender woman.’
Why is the accused labelled a ‘boy’ for having been charged with an adult hate crime?
What is ‘male fail’?
A person going through transition will encounter their end stage when others no longer perceive them as their originating person, but as their target identity.
In other words, for me, I went from my male presence to female presence. People did not accept my male persona at the end of my male presence because I appeared too feminised to be accepted as male. I ‘failed’ being ‘male’.
Perhaps it was inter-sex that I had two eras of my ‘male fail’, my first was my teens when I went thru my female para-puberty. People who see those pictures of me at age 16 and age 20 and do not know in advance that it is me tell me that they see my appearance is more female than male.
I received much abuse as that female-appearing male all through those years (age 14 to 22). I suppose this experience equates with that of F-M transsexuals during their teen years though I was in reverse of their direction. Perhaps that topic can be my future post.
My second and final ‘male fail’ occurred during my 20s (1979 – 1985). As I shall discuss here, my employer clearly failed to accept my male presence due to my ever-increasing female appearance and presence.
‘No matter what official ‘Policies’ there are, if management wants you out, you’re out.’
The euphoria of my employment paper changes was amazing:
- Social Security Administration accepted my file change to my new name as Sharon and as female (September 1978).
- My state affirmed me female under my new name, Sharon, and issued my new MVD licence (Spring 1980).
Employed as a male by the federal government (a civilian appointment to the Department of the Army) beginning 1977, I continued as such and used my male predecessor name Nick when I began my federal employment tenure at the USDA Forest Service; I was not ready in my stage of transition to work as my female self Sharon when I began working at the Forest Service (December 1978). My employing agency learned of my sex change on paper when my name appeared on Social Security’s discrepancy list.
- ‘He’s a she.’ ‘No, she’s a he.’
I over-heard those words as Edie, my supervisor, was talking about me to Nancy, another supervisor, when I passed her office one day (1979). My employing agency made no issue of this directly to me. I prepared a letter to submit to my supervisor for just-in-case purposes. That was not necessary; the agency selected me for promotion and transfer to the new Geometronics Service Center at West Valley City, Utah (October 1980). Was it because my current supervisor wanted to pass my presence to another office or did I truly earn it?
My transition at my new Forest Service assignment and duty station location continued my ‘Victor / Victoria’ era – I am legally female working as male living as a woman pretending to be a man. Employment security diminished as agency management at my new office saw my female identification on the SSA discrepancy list and acted variously.
I eventually rotated among three Forest Service duty stations at three different employing offices. I began at West Valley City (1980 – 1985), then a concurrent assignment to the Uintah National Forest Supervisor’s Office at Provo (Summer 1984), and ended with a concurrent assignment to the Wasatch-Cache National Forests Supervisor’s Office at Salt Lake City (1984 – 1985).
Bob, my first supervisor at my Utah duty station, disguised a ‘date’ as a get-to-know-each-other invitation to me for dinner and a guy’s evening at his home (November 1980). This was an evening more involved than Steve’s invitation to me when I worked at Williams, Arizona.
Who did Bob think I was:
- (a) a female (according to my SSA file) presenting as a male?
- (b) a Lesbian living as a male?
- (c) a heterosexual male (as I presented myself)?
- (d) a homosexual male (according to office gossip)?
Wow! was I presenting quite a confusing set of circumstances in my ignorance of that time.
Gawd knows what other options floated their boats.
- ‘You can’t think at the ‘Great Thalt Lake’.
What were Bob’s true expectations and intentions? These were questions left un-answered at least because he was promoted to a new assignment at a different state and the scenario did not play out with him.
My male presenting declined into clear failure – now known to me by the term ‘male fail’ – by 1983 and led to Blanche, the second supervisor at my West Valley City duty station, proving the danger to my livelihood. She called me to her office one day; she told me,
- ‘I know you are a female. We can’t have you working here as a male.’
Or thereabouts. She directly threatened to fire me on her charge of my being F-M transsexual. She exposed my private medical information throughout the office. I began hearing those familiar ‘She’s a he!’ and ‘He’s a she!’ whispers from several co-workers and managers at that office; I heard far worse words from many others though no one ever had the indecency to actually speak them to my face.
I feared my supervisor’s threat that day; she made them real. My regret was that I did not return to work the next day as Sharon / female, walk directly to her at her office, and inform her, ‘Here I am. I shall be from now on working as who I am – as Sharon – as female.’ Looking back on that time, it would have been the best opportunity to complete transition to female at work. She could no longer accuse me of being a female working there as a male though I’m certain the gossip would have flown wilder than ever before. My full change was valid: SSA recorded me as Sharon and female (1978), my state legally affirmed my name change to Sharon and my sex change to female (1980), and my operations finalised my female anatomy (1982, 1983).
Why was I still waiting in 1983?
That is my lesson learned.
A problem looking at it then as current events and looking back at it now as history was my lack of available transition counselling. Again, these were the dark days of early 1983 – more than 30 years ago. I had no transition counselling since my move from Arizona (October 1980). Maybe I should have called long distance to my former counsellor at Arizona? I would have not even the semblance of transition counselling until later 1983 and early 1984 through mid-1985. That was poor transition counselling at best and a failure at worst; not that I lay blame on them, it was the circumstances of those times. I was attending mostly group sessions; the counsellor’s instructions to me were to minimise my transition issues during group and reserve them to occasional one-on-one sessions.
If I had a local counsellor the day when Blanche called me to her office and declared her charges against me, I would have called that counsellor on the telephone immediately after work and sought advice at an emergency session. Looking back, if I were the counsellor, then I would have advised Sharon to come for an emergency one-on-one meeting to discuss plans and tell her to bring a few change of clothes to test her female presentation – I’d tell her it’s time, now or never.
I was still scared; there was advancing that finality presenting as female with the notion there was no going back. Sure, I had years wearing my sister’s clothes either in private, among family, or in public as a child and teen. I eventually wore my own feminine female attire since 1974 though less in public as an adult. I was wearing something of uni-sex female attire (jeans, tops, shoes, sox, etc.) what to me I presumed others perceived as accepted male attire.
Presenting as female in public once and for all appeared to me in those long ago days to be a mountain when in fact was nowhere as high as the proverbial molehill.
Remember what was in my head. My father had my transitioning Uncle Frank arrested during transition. The family had Uncle Frank murdered during transition. What if something went terribly wrong with my adult presenting and the Mormon police arrested me?
You who are working out your transition plans today have my full empathy and great support. I know exactly what is tearing your mind apart – ‘been there, done that’. I’m here for you.
I did not come ‘out’ where I was employed, but I’m certain that my changes must have been noticeable during my final physiological transition from male to female. I continued growing my hair shoulder length and got occasional female-styled perms by my friend who supervised the Cosmetology Department at Utah Technical College, the nearby community college.
Clearly recognised was my increasing absence of body hair and facial hair.
I long earlier already ditched my male attire and replaced it with my uni-sex female attire. The only clothing that could be identified as male were my business office shirts – required while I worked at my employer’s personnel department while still presenting there as male. Denim pants / jeans are part of the official Forest Service federal agency uniform so I wore my women’s-wear jeans every day.
I learned female fashion to co-ordinate my male office shirt with a matching female sweater / vest / pull-over and sox as I progressed through feminisation though still presenting as male at work during my transition to female.
Looking back, this attire surely must have begun up-setting my employment surroundings – mostly when I really went full steam ahead at my subsequent downtown Salt Lake City office location.
Looking back, I was oblivious to what I was doing.
There are some pull-over sweaters that I wore to accessorise with my male office shirt that I see nowadays are very clearly quite feminine; I wonder now how I thought I was satisfactorily presenting as male at work. Among my favourite remains an off-white sweater with soft blue pastel highlights. I look at that now and I wonder; I had moxie wearing that at work expecting others to accept my presence as male especially by 1983, 1984, and definitely 1985. They didn’t, they couldn’t. Some who did not know me at our large office building addressed me as female.
There was the array of our agency’s organisational chart on a wall outside our Director’s Office. This wall presented each of approximately 150 employee’s name, position title, grade, and office identification photograph. There I was, my infamous 1981 picture (left). All anyone needed to do was walk a few yards down the hall to my desk and see me by 1983 looking quite different (right, my appearance by 1985). It did not require a rocket scientist to figure this one out.
I now know of this condition as ‘Male Fail’.
I learned early that I had to wear something up top to protect my anatomy from getting rubbed raw. A bra was out of the question when I was presenting as male at work, that was another reason why I wore multiple T-shirts under my business office shirts to help hide my ‘B’ sized ‘girls’ under this male office attire; that soft cotton fit that bill. Sometimes a soft paper towel helpt. I frequently added that sweater vest – women’s wear, of course – over my office shirt to create bulk layers trying to hide my blossoming self. Some days my two bumps were more noticeable than other days – depending upon what I wore. I’m certain that I grew to care less about that as time wore on.
People at work (Blanche, LeeAnne, Dreama, Patsy, Gloria, Gary, Don, John among my nemeses) long-suspected my status was F-M through their cruel gossip; working as Sharon could have changed that gossip in short order.
Terry, my immediate co-worker in our Personnel Department, saw my devolving physical changes every day for four years yet apparently did not fully perceive them until we chatted at her home one evening after work (1985). It was just another visit of many routine visits as I had been her otherwise dutifull male friend. She suddenly asked why I had no facial hair, then looked at my arms and hands and asked why I had no body hair.
Jean was a curious co-worker. She is Lesbian. We participated in many of the same after-work political and civics activities. She did not approach me about my condition the four years we worked together and knew each other socially outside work. Huh? I give her credit being strong and ‘out’ during those years.
Betty, my jigsaw puzzle friend, was my only true support at work who did not question my ‘male’ presence that was clearly kaput by 1985.
Meanwhile, my employer’s action to fire me as a F-M transsexual persisted two years through the administrative process (1983 – 1985). I eventually resigned (1985). I then petitioned for Unemployment Insurance. UI agreed and determined that my Forest Service employer conducted an ‘intolerable work environment’ against me. Surprise vindication.
While my federal agency was firing me as a transsexual, I learned they were openly accepting Roberta, a M-F transsexual employee at another location within my same organisational structure.