First Person: The lighter side of being trans

This series features first person narratives about personal LGBT-related issues and experiences.


Dianne Skoll
LGBT Perspectives columnist

OTTAWA — There are many articles on the difficulties transgender people face, but sometimes we should talk about the lighter side of being trans and about the really nice people we encounter. Here are a few of my stories.

* * *

I recently signed up for an improv course with a local theatre school. The  washrooms there are gender-marked but are actually individual washrooms just like at Starbucks, for example. On the first day, I really needed to go, but the toilet in the women’s washroom was broken — it would not flush.

One of my classmates was very handy. “I can fix that!” she said. She fished around in her purse for a makeshift hook to fix the chain to the plunger and marched off to fix it. While she was fooling around in the tank, I said: “I really need to go. I guess I’ll use the other one… they’re individual, so it doesn’t matter.”

“OK,” she says, “but be careful… in a men’s room you’ll often find urine on the floor.”

“Thanks for the heads-up,” I said.

* * *

I’m planning to attend my university class’s 25th anniversary reunion celebrations. I signed up online and am participating in the Facebook group. I received a call from the organizer who said: “Dianne, we’ve all changed since graduation, but probably you more than most. We were planning on making name tags with each person’s graduation photo and name on the tag, but if you’d rather not have your photo we can leave yours empty.” I said I’d prefer that. But I
was really touched by the courtesy and sensitivity shown, especially since I graduated in electrical engineering and engineering students are not particularly known for their sensitivity.

* * *

When I was first forcing myself to go out as a woman, before I was full-time, I was naturally a little apprehensive when out in public. At the library, I noticed a woman staring at me and I thought “That’s it; I’m sunk… she’s clocked me.” Then she came up to me and said: “Excuse me, I really like your purse. Where did you get it?”

* * *

When I was newly full-time, I attended my daughter’s musical theatre recital. Afterward, there were refreshments. As I was standing there, the mother of another music student came up to me and said: “Dianne, I just want you to know that you look great and I admire your courage.” I was extremely touched by this gesture.

* * *

So don’t be discouraged by the hate we see on the Internet and on right-wing media outlets. At least in my experience, most people in real life are kind and decent. Enjoy living as who you were meant to be.

(Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)


5 thoughts on “First Person: The lighter side of being trans”

  1. Sir-Reality #4: Soccer Mom

    At a kid’s soccer match where our foreign exchange student is playing, I walk into the women’s room to wash my hands. As I walk to the sinc, a teenage girl and I nearly collide. We profusely apologize to each other.

    She: Oh, say, aren’t you so-and-so’s mom?? (earnestly)
    Me: No, sweetie, I’m not {with less confidence in my answer than I actually have)
    She: Oh, sorry, You look JUST like her!! (smiling apologetically)

    We say “bye” as she bounces out of the restroom, and I walk to the sink, smiling, a foot above the floor. 🙂


  2. Sir-Reality #3: Donating Blood

    I am sitting in the Red Cross private area where technicians ask you all their questions and check your vital signs.

    The nurse already knows I’m trans because I have to inform her right up-front because of the way ARC donation records work (by Federal law, my birth-assigned sex is remembered).

    She repeatedly checks my iron level, several times with two machines: my iron is too low! (common with women).

    She looks at me earnestly and asks: “Dear, are your having your period now?”

    …a moment latter, she says: “Oh, I’m *so sorry* I forgot you are trans!”


  3. Sir-Reality #2: Late Night Shopping

    Woman: Say, I’m looking for the new diet XYZ. Do you know where it is. (looking quizzically at me)
    Me: Goodness, I’ve never heard of that product before, but you might try the next isle? (nicely)
    Woman: You’re very tall for a woman aren’t you? (cocks head and squints)
    Me: yes, I am; it’s in my genes! (sweetly smiling)
    Woman; Oh (not sure what just happened)


  4. Sir-Reality #1: The Telemarketer

    Marketer: Hello, I’m with XYZ Investments and I need to speak with Brett Blatchley (overbearing male)
    Me: Hi, Mr. Blatchley is not available; I’m Renee Blatchley; I can help you. (sweetly)
    Markeer: Mr. Blatchley is who I need to speak with. (brusquely)
    Me: I am who Mr. Blatchley has become; I can can help you. (still sweetly)
    Marketer: Ummm….uhh….oh shi….{CLICK!!!)


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