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Out and About with Michelle Hart - Column 7

Girlfriend In A Coma

Did you know that Aphrodite had no childhood? In every image, and each reference she is born adult, nubile, and infinitely desirable. She is also one of the few characters who played a major part in the original cause of the Trojan War. Aphrodite, in many of the late anecdotal myths involving her, is characterized as vain, ill-tempered and easily offended. It's said that Aphrodite could make any man fall in love with her just by them laying eyes on her. Due to her immense beauty Zeus was frightened that she would be the cause of violence between the other gods. To resolve this Zeus married her off to Hephaestus, the dour, humorless god of smithing. Hephaestus was overjoyed at being married to the goddess of beauty and forged her beautiful jewelry, including the cestus, a girdle that made her even more irresistible to men.

Isn't is simply amazing how similar the lives of girls like us are to Aphrodite. Many of us who are in transition conceal or completely remove anything from our childhood. We spend all our time trying to be as attractive as we can be to all who see us. Our little club constantly is looking in the mirror and posting new pictures for all to see each day. We are forever complaining about the most recent slight by our neighbor or coworkers. We wear corsets and all manner of contraptions to mold our bodies into the most desirable of shape in an ever elusive quest for beauty. Many times we are scorned for our choices and ridiculed for what we hold dear. Unfortunately Zeus is not going to step in and make sure we are married or have a good job.

Yes ladies I'm talking about the image we project. When people see us and our community what kind of impression do they walk away with. Is it positive and "infinitely desirable"? Is it one of utter shock, or absolute disdain? Is there ever a middle ground that we can seek to conform to the societal standard of a womans behavior, or will we be stuck in the pink fog eternally? When you see a woman casually perusing the isles of Macy's is she trussed up in a neon blue spandex dress that would make most strippers blush or is she wearing a sweatshirt and a pair of ked's?

When I got dressed this morning I noticed something different. I took a few extra moments and double checked my appearance, can you believe it? I was actually a little self conscious about what my outfit would say to people. What type of message was I sending to anyone who might see me, was it good or bad? I know It's hard to believe that I could notice anything beyond the hot chick in the mirror, but you still love me anyway... Right? Seriously I'm not that vain... honest, I swear!! No. really I promise....

This sudden need of a personal critique was brought on by something I had watched on the news regarding our little club. It was a news report on companies that are willing to hire us. As you know I'm a news junkie, I admit it, It's my crack, my drug of choice. So anyway, there I was just watching the news and I saw this story on a LBGT job fair which I thought was just splendid.

There are companies out there that are actively looking for the skills we girls have and that ladies is just absolutely thrilling. As I watched in glee, happy that we as a community have made such strides, such wonderful progress, it quickly turned to utter, and absolute dismay. I'm sure you're wondering what could cause such a horrific reaction in such a demure and sweet woman like me. As I watched the footage that was shot by a gay man nonetheless, I was stunned. I was utterly appalled. My dismay was just incredible.

I know it was serious my "girlfriends" are in a coma, I know it's really serious There were times when I could Have murdered them. Do you really think they'll pull through? Do you really think They'll pull through? If what I witnessed is the norm, and regrettably it is more often than not. I don't think they will pull through.....

These "girls" just looked horrible. Yes there were a few that looked really nice, but most just looked plain silly. Many here are worried about the dreaded man in a dress tag and it's no wonder. Most of them had no makeup on, their hair looked so bad I actually wondered if they had just woken up. Very little about them said "woman" what they were projecting was not feminine or female at all. Sure they all had women's clothes on but that does not by default make you a female or a woman. One of these girls actually had dread locks and a mans watch on. I actually saw a woman who was probably taller than I am with a receding hairline, I was just totally blown away by that. How many women have you ever seen with really short thinning hair and a huge bald spot. Obviously the answer is none. No woman in her right mind would allow herself to look that bad. Honestly if she walked up to me I would run away and never consider giving her a job.

Incidentally there was a police woman that was interviewed, and she was in her mid fifties perhaps. Even though she had no makeup on, and had a very short boyish haircut she still looked quite feminine. It was very obvious she was a genetic woman. She was born with everything she would need to look like a girl her entire life. Genetic women can get away with looking horrible because they are born with the right body, the right bone structure, the right hair, the right everything!

LADIES we are not that lucky! Real women have the benefit of an entire life full of conditioning, experimenting, and social education. All the Barbie doll's, unicorn's, and ballerina fantasy stuff trains them for their place in society. We have to go through years of surgery, and medical procedures to get even close to what they have naturally. Real women have an entire lifetime to learn how to be girls, we don't.

Cheap wig's, Men's glasses, and poorly fitted women's clothes with flats and a bulky mans watch does not, nor will it ever convince anyone that you are a woman. I can almost hear some of you screaming about how unfair I am or how I lack sensitivity. Well sisters, unshaven arms and legs on a woman are just ugly so if you are to lazy to make that commitment then please don't try to convince me you're in transition or are very serious about transition.

Regardless of how qualified you may be for a position there are some things that just will not do. When it comes to your appearance and the image you project it has to be unmistakably feminine to the world around you. I hear so many girls whine and cry about acceptance and how they wish people would let them be themselves. Well honey if you don't take yourself seriously why on earth would you expect a potential employer to take you seriously. How can you honestly expect others to accept you as a female if everything you do says male. If you want people to believe you're a woman then you must be totally committed to becoming one. Just deciding that you want to wear a dress to work is the wrong answer to this question. If you're not willing to totally immerse yourself in your new role then take your ball's and just go home. You are not helping us improve our image in society, and you are making all of us look really bad. The litany of things you need to know, learn, and accept, is tremendous. Perhaps I'll write something on that later but for today it's all about getting employed and staying employed.

Every one of us has had a few different occupations in our life so I'm not going to tell you what you need to do every day but there are a few things you definitely need to know about getting your heels in the door and keeping them there. For girls like us that are looking for a way to get back in the workforce there are some rules to follow. Yes ladies they are engraved in stone and not negotiable. If you are having delusions that nobody will ever find out or question your origins you are very misguided. Most people you work with may never know but some of them will figure it out eventually. The real secret is this, if you are going to work or live as a woman then LOOK AND ACT LIKE ONE.

First, you need to dress the for the part and the position.

A lot of people feel some need to always ask what I'm wearing, I will never know why but oh well. The short answer; a really nice outfit that is very tasteful and leaves everything to the imagination. You need to always dress to blend in not impress everyone with your fashion sense. Look at the other women around you, follow their example. Just because you have implants is not a justification to show them to everybody. You do not have permission to wear short skirts, and heels to work daily if women don't dress that way in your company. Stay on the conservative side with wardrobe and do not stand out in the style department. I'm not saying don't dress well, just don't overdress. A nice pair of women's slacks and some really cute loafers with a silk blouse looks great and still says "I'm all woman". The thing to remember here is that you have to project a very soft feminine look while not appearing overdone.

Second, just accept that they know.

A very good friend of mine named Paige is totally flawless in her appearance and manner. Her voice is nearly perfect and she is also fairly petite. However she still has her original documents and licence. She is in the process of changing her legal documents and asked me to give here some help so I gave her all my stuff and pointed her in the right direction. She knows this has to be done to advance to the next stage which goes to show how wise she really is.

Very few of us are completely unreadable, and nobody's papers are perfect so just assume they know you started as someone else. I can't emphasize how important this is. Get you legal documents in order!! When it comes to benefit packages and insurance or simply cashing checks the wrong documents can make your life a living hell. With all the identity theft and extra security at airports these days why ask for more scrutiny or hassles. Yes it's scary and yes it's a hassle but in the long run you will be less worried and stressed out over being "discovered".

Always remember the importance of the paper trail too, no matter how solid you think it is there is always a weakness somewhere. Your paperwork must be in order, name changed with social security and state ID, etc. Never assume that a potential or current employer can't or won't find out about your past. Even with a shiny new social security number, your previous name and work history may still be out there someplace, perhaps even an arrest record or old credit report. At this point it should be obvious there are some actual cost's and if you can't afford those then leave the high heels and red lipstick at home until you can.

Third, your gender situation is always taboo at work.

Never discuss it period! Ever! Not at all! If you are excited about it that's just dandy but chances are none of your coworkers will have the same level of enthusiasm. If someone does ask, just let them know very politely that it's private and you won't discuss it at work, then change the subject immediately.

The absolute worst possible mistake is when one of us brings their trans issue to work with them. Some girls just can't shut up in water cooler conversations about their upcoming SRS. Ask yourself, do you want to hear women talking about their upcoming hysterectomies or PAP smears, well do you? Obviously you don't. In today's workplace a lot of issues are totally off limits and your transition is one of them. I know you will have the urge to do it with that really nice girl in accounting but for your own sake don't. Besides if you are really doing a great job of blending in then why spoil it with that kind of revelation. Some people really loath us and will go out of their way to cause us harm. Why put yourself and your job on the line?

Fourth, you need to be really honest about your training.

A lot of girls will try to misrepresent their skills when they've been unemployed for a while, and that can cause them a very short tenure. Trust me sisters it's not that difficult to look up your previous history and find out what you're actually trained to do. Don't ever try to take a job that you are not qualified for, never push your luck or lie even a little about your work experience. I have a lot of certifications and verifiable training but not all of us have that so just win them over with your wonderful personality and not deceit. If you can't do the job from the first day, don't expect an employer to teach you. Keep in mind though that some employers will offer some training and classes if it's a specialized field. If that's not the case trust me they will ditch you and find the right person for the job.

Fifth, you should be seen and never heard.

The majority of employment issues come down to your actual on the job performance and skill. Do we get singled out more or suffer more discrimination? You'd better believe it. We will always be much more discriminated against honey it's just a fact. So how are we supposed to overcome that?

ALWAYS get to work on time, do your job perfectly, don't take time off unnecessarily, don't ever make a fuss, don't ever cause any trouble, and work any overtime that's offered. In essence this is one time in your life you really need to be a doormat. There are girls out there who are always late or leaving early, and who don't dress appropriately, then they wonder why they lost their job. It wasn't because of discrimination, it's because they are just plain stupid. Don't lose your job because you were stupid, and don't blame your stupidity on discrimination either. On the other hand, if you do loose your job, make sure it IS discrimination and not a performance, relational, or personality driven problem. The workplace has a really handy hook to hang a marginal employee on. It's not a place to blame for our own shortcomings and stupid mistakes though.

Finally, the last thing is don't assume they are "out to get you"

There are several reasons why someone may get hired and not be kept as an employee. Most companies have probationary periods specifically so they can 'check out' a new employee before they become permanently vested in insurance plans, 401k's, etc. Always remember they are using this probationary period as a try before you buy plan to see if you are worth their investment. If your potential employer is following the rules regarding what can and can not be asked in an interview, you'll do fine. Considering that former employers usually can't give a good or bad reference anymore, it's very hard to get a truly honest performance evaluation on a new employee.

Most smaller companies have also never dealt with a transgender employee, You're the first. If that's the case then you are responsible for that employer's impression of our ENTIRE community. Make a really good impression on them. If you show up looking like some of the girls at the previously mentioned job faire Calvin Klein won't be able to save you later. At that point you're beyond even the grasp of a rescue by Gucci.

With all the new legislation and our communities constant complaining about our right's most companies know how deal with us without very many problems. We do have several allies in the media and the government, some known and some unknown. Personally I love what the log cabin republicans have done for our community. They have a really awesome history of standing up for us when it comes to anti discrimination issues. The thing you need to remember is this, if you are a valued employee they will definitely want to keep you. Your work history and reputation in the company before you transitioned can be invaluable.

If you don't get hired or you're released from a a position file for unemployment immediately. The law requires them to tell you why they let you go. If you were discriminated against, tell others in our community who it was, but NEVER EVER berate them in future interviews. On the other hand if you screwed up, please don't blame it on discrimination.

Well ladies there you are, just a few things this time to help guide you on your quest to the corner office. You don't need to look like Aphrodite but we all need to put a lot more effort into our appearance than other women. As always keep in mind that I truly do love you and want you all to succeed so if I seem harsh consider it tough love. Many of us do get and hold good jobs in good companies. We have successful transitions where we work. We work hard and have very wonderful and, fulfilling lives.

And yes dear, You can do it too!

With love,

Michelle Hart

If you have a suggestion for a topic you would like to see addressed feel free to write me through my profile on URNA. Also, feel free to Post and Comments below. If you would like to know more about me or are just curious don't be shy, reply.

Transgender Job Fair Video Link


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