Update…Long Overdue

Hey guys!  So remember when I said I was going to update more regularly and all that jazz?  Just kidding, apparently…

Voice clip, 30 weeks: 110913 30 Weeks

I’m not 100% sure how accurate my voice clips are.  Every time I hit the record button, I find my voice drops into a lower-than-usual register and I really haven’t been successful fighting it.  However, I do it every time, so the change from clip to clip should be accurate enough, with everything just slightly lower than the register I use in everyday speak.

Interestingly, I have found I have the most trouble being read correctly right now over the phone.  I have had to make a lot of customer service phone calls lately, and am getting about half and half.  It seems when I am connected to non-American customer service people, they read me correctly, while Americans seem to read me over the phone as female.  I suspect it has something to do with intonation or speech pattern, but I don’t know quite what I need to fix.  I think I go into an “asking-for-help” mode in my speech that may be more female, but I don’t really know what I’m talking about.

I had some trouble with my car over the summer and made many trips to the dealership, as well as speaking with the guy working with me many times over the phone.  He, I think, forgot who I was between each interaction and re-determined what he thought each time.  It pretty much switched back and forth.  I would see him and get, “Hello, Mr. Smith,” then he’d leave a voicemail saying, “Ms. Smith, here’s what you need to do.”  I chose to find it entertaining rather than frustrating.   I’ve also had continuous issues with my car dealership getting my contact info right.  My car is currently registered under my mom’s name, but I am the primary user of the car and we both want all the info to go directly to me.  I tell them each time, and still she gets emails and calls about the car.  So I wasn’t that surprised when they got confused about my name change.  I called to make an appointment and said, “By the way, I’m changing my name from “Jane” to “John.”  They said that wasn’t a problem and would change it.  The next call I got was, “Hello, Jane/John, please call us about X.”  It turns out they thought I was changing my last name, but I thought it was pretty symbolic of this whole transition issue.

What’s great is the facial hair.  I still can’t really grow a beard, but I have quite a lot of scraggly hair on my face.  I’ve decided that, even though it looks kind of gross, I’m a college student and I can afford to look a little scruffy.  The hair just makes such a huge difference in how people read me.  I have walked into stores unbound, handed clerks the one credit card that still has my old name and still gotten a, “Thank you, sir” when I have let my “beard” grow for a while.  It’s spectacular.

I’ve noticed the facial hair doesn’t make a lick of difference to those who have known me for a long time.  I was hoping it would help them transition how they think of me, but it’s not the case.  My mom, for example, has made a few comments about how she keeps forgetting that the hair on my face is supposed to be there and wants to pluck it.  Hopefully she will get there eventually.  Overall, most people who have been struggling are making vast improvements.  I know that it is tough for them to change how they think about me and I still struggle to find the balance between cutting people slack and putting a little pressure on them.  I know when I was new to all of this (pre-my own coming out, but new to trans issues in general), it took some effort to change the way I thought of some of the trans people I knew.  I understand that it can be hard to fight what you have known or what your mind thinks you are seeing.  But with some effort, it is actually possible to get to the point where you truly see someone for who they are.

With some of my friends/acquaintances/classmates who are having trouble, I’ve adopted a tactic not of correcting pronouns, since I’ve found people don’t always notice that when they are mid-sentence, but of referencing guy things or verbally emphasizing the differences between me and my female friends (e.g. when a friend made a comment along the lines of, “Man, it sucks when we have to deal with cramps,” I said, “Yeah, I’m sorry, that must really suck.”).

I am having a ton of trouble with binding.  It seems no matter how I mess with it, it is still acutely painful.  I think it is working in terms of how people read me, but not in terms of long-term sustainability.  I have made some slight improvements, but it seriously impacts how I live my life.  I can’t really spend time sitting around in the library or a coffee shop because it becomes too painful, too quickly.  If I don’t really have plans, my default is to go back to my room so I can unbind.  Which sucks, because I really like hanging out.

For the most part, it seems I have come a long way in terms of how I’m read.  I am using men’s bathrooms, which is still kind of scary for me, but I don’t get glares or weird looks, and I would be intensely uncomfortable in a women’s restroom.  I haven’t gotten a packer or anything but I will soon.  Most people who meet me seem to read me as male, with a few exceptions.  Some people who knew me before are still having issues, but hopefully they will figure it out in time.

I realize this post is a little repetitive, but I have been thinking about all of this a lot.  I have a couple of other posts floating around in my head and will write them soon, hopefully.

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4 Responses to Update…Long Overdue

  1. Hey man, sounds like things are going fairly well. I know what you mean about pain with binding – I had to stop a long time ago. Anyway, hope things just keep getting better.

  2. Polka Dot says:

    Great to hear your voice! Looking forward to more and longer clips. Btw, I noticed that I tend to change my voice without realizing it when I get on the phone to “take care of business.” For me, it tends to go higher especially when I am dealing with bureaucracies in English. When doing so in Polish, the voice is the same. Weird.

    • sirgarreth says:

      Thanks! It is interesting that the voice change happens no matter which language you are using. I suspect I do something very similar. At this point, it is a very ingrained habit. But I will keep mindful of it.

      Hehe I have been doing clips of reading the Odyssey out loud, but I’m not sure I’m going to post them. Also haven’t done it in a while but will get back to it. Seemed an appropriate work considering the context. I always feel weird reading things out loud, but it is nice to have something a little longer to listen to.

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