Being a Transgender Woman in the Real World

Transgender women can exist in peace as long as they stay within the confines of a computer, hidden in the hard drive of horny men who see us as a fantasy, a fetish, an object, a broken human being.

When transgender women leave the confines of societal shame and dare to take a step in the real world, people lose their minds, assigning self-appointed morality badges to police those who have faced stigma their whole lives and merely took a chance to be authentic in public spaces.

Those who police us are the ones who find our presence too queer, too controversial, too challenging to face, and hence we must be shut down, locked away, blocked off from normative gazes so we don’t upset the status quo. The limits of people’s perception of the universe ends at the boundaries of their understanding, and hence people who are queer, those who walk through the paper walls of social confines and challenge hetero-normative assumptions must be silenced, because, in order to maintain fairness, we have to be policed in the same fashion that they police themselves.

Why should we have all the fun of being free and being ourselves, feeling free to express who we are when they have chosen a life of emotional chastity?

At that instant, their insecurities become fuel to stoke the fire of hatred, rationalizing their misunderstandings and fear in the name of purity, the lord, the righteousness that has abandoned America. The compartments used to hide their desires for us during the evenings as they browse porn sites must stay intact, walling off any semblance of attraction they feel for us in the daytime.

Being an out and open transgender woman has its advantages, but we must face moments when those who spot our queerness decide to police us back into the closet.

I revealed some leg at work today, and was told to go home by HR because other women complained about the way I was dressed “too sexy.

Strange, other women consistently dress sexy at my company, with a few even bragging about which VPs they slept with; yet, I was told to go home and change.

I know how lucky I am to have the physique given to me by my Mother in the Sky — slender, China doll skin, and a head full of my own hair with feminine features and high cheekbones — but our blessings are always our curse, and my curse is being labeled as a troublemaker: arousing men despite being clear about my transgender history and for choosing to present in the world as a woman because of my feminine heart.

Those who know about my transgender history, I’m very open about it, face a challenge. They can see me as attractive and admit that they are sexually queer themselves, or try to destroy the trigger that causes them cognitive dissonance by getting rid of my presence.

The latter, from my experience, has by far been the more popular and frequent choice at work, with all the little oblique actions and gossip that take place behind my back, at work and amongst old acquaintances who now see me as someone too dangerous and risky to be around and keep in their lives.

I refuse to box myself in and play small simply because other people are threatened by my unique individuality, and that makes for a very difficult amount of tension for me to deal with on a daily basis.

Transgender women can exist in peace as long as they stay within the confines of a computer, hidden in the hard drive of horny men who see us as a fantasy, a fetish, an object and broken human being.

And me? I refuse to deny the world of my gifts by staying in 2-D, because the last time I checked, I’m much more powerful in the real world, creating ripples of change by patiently and compassionately being my authentic self.

Photo Credit: Oneras Flickr via Compfight cc

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Natalie Yeh

Liminal Spaces with Natalie Yeh -- aerospace engineer with a penchant for the spiritual, artistic, and cerebral -- is an attempt where she tries to accept her own messy humanity in exploring the gifts in her everyday stories and milestones with compassion, gratitude, and mindfulness. Gifts she believes we can all share and learn from when we choose to see our continuous threads of connection in our common humanity rather than uphold paper walls of illusions of separation that some treat as real. When she has free time, she loves to cook, shoot landscape photography, practice martial arts, write and dance. Her Chinese American background, bilingual upbringing, and transgender history all lend to her experiences in exploring the liminal spaces where her history, her present and her future are at odds and of a piece, creating herself and her writing as unique, cross cultural art.


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