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Publicly Speaking

Don’t get all excited, this is not another story of one of my public speaking “opportunities” where I get caught in the face with curve balls and manage to sweat through a suit coat. I’m sure further instances will arise, and I promise, fingers crossed, not to share. I know that made little sense, and was just a taste of what it’s like to have to hear me stumble through a PowerPoint presentation, and you guys are not even a hostile audience for the most part. I’m talking about being transgender and living a life less private.

The question popped up over in PinkEssence where another blogger was contacted by a person purporting to be a documentary maker who wanted to ride the wave of trans chic and make one about her life. There was considerable debate about whether this is a good idea from a personal perspective. I don’t remember how it ended up. They have these infuriating Adobe Flash ads all over the place that lock up my browser every time I go there and try to be social. Technical difficulties aside, I had to think about what I would do in such a situation. It’s not an easy question.

I spent my first 30 some years living as private a life as possible. I had reasons I wasn’t super jazzed about being looked at too closely. I hated attention, the limelight, lights that were not citrus based at all, and became adept at throwing distractions over to the side for people to look at instead of me. I even advised my boss I hated any sort of personal recognition. Seriously, who does that? Now everything has changed. In a building where I preferred to think the majority didn’t even know my name, I became a water cooler discussion topic over night. Amazingly, it all turned out not to be the end of the world. Yes, I still like to just live my life and do my job, but it is a little flattering when people take an interest. Who knew that could be a good thing?

The reality that all my reasons for being secretive are now gone. On top of that, I went and published all the details to boot. One stop shopping in case I ever decide to run for president. Don’t give me that look, I’m almost rocking the Michele Bachman haircut now, never mind that outdated old Gravitar over there on the right. I might even get further too, with my sensible ideas and correct first name spelling. Don’t hold your breath. The point is that it doesn’t get much more public than this. As of now, everyone I’ve ever know who is still in contact with me has one stop shopping to discover everything I ever found mortally embarrassing and I don’t even care. I’m good with all that.

So yeah, I think I would do it, not that I’m expecting anyone to ask. So what if strangers are suddenly privy to the details of my life? I already have zero interest in what they think anyway, so no reason for that to change. On top of that, I’m not really so interesting that the majority of people wouldn’t flip over to a reality show about hillbillies trying to make quiche after a few seconds. The whole concept of fame is an illusion anyway, and I’ll just never be that girl who cares if her name is in the paper. Worst case scenario is that it’s cleverly edited to have me come off as Snooki’s dumb ass cousin or something. Ugh. Fucking Snooki.

Making the grandiose assumption that anyone else thinks like me (aside from my twin in Scotland), I have to make the statement that even if it makes no sense personally, and assuming further that there is nothing to lose, I don’t see the harm in getting the exposure. For me it would be a zero sum game, but the possibility exists that it could help someone else. People like Jenny Boylan, Chloe Price, and Caroline Temmerand put themselves out there, and when I was still struggling, hearing these stories helped me a ton. A population of pre-transition trans people lurks in the unspoken periphery of the world, ticking away, and just waiting to really manifest full steam in the shittiest, most inconvenient time possible. If we can make it easier for them, we should. If we can make it easier for their friends and loved ones by giving them something to read or watch about someone they don’t give much of a crap about, even better.

Long story short, if we can and the personal cost isn’t so onerous, I think we should. To me it just seems like one of those doing more good than harm situations, and let’s be honest, when we are struggling, we sure are glad others looked at it this way too.


About michellelianna

I'm a transgender woman now in the maintenance stages of transition having all the electrolysis and surgery one can reasonably be expected to undertake. While busy exploring my new world, I took to blogging about it with dubiously popular results. I don't have quite as much to say as I used to, but I'm not quite done yet either.

6 responses »

  1. As usual I’m with you on this one Sis. Privacy is oversold. Our lives are a lot less private than we think they are and really keeping as lid on everything is a lot of work.

    Live your life in the open. Share your story if it will help someone else and get used to the idea that people might talk about you or know your “personal” business. If you don’t lock it in a box, you have nothing to lose when it comes out.

    Having spent most of my life hiding myself from the world, I find it a challenge sometimes to let go and be open, but it feels so good when I do. It also gives me the strength to ignore the slights when they happen.

    Today in Edinburgh I got called “sir” by a vendor. Instead of letting it get me out of whack, I just smiled and went on. Within 20 minutes I was rewarded with two “luvs” from other vendors and a gentleman giving up his cushion so I didn’t have to sit on the bare ground for a show.

    I found the strength to smile through and was able to reap the rewards because I don’t hide anything about myself anymore and so I don’t care what others think. It works. It really does. If that’s what it takes to put ourselves in a position to help and encourage those who follow us,it is a small price to pay and we get paid back.

    Your really put this point out there well. I love that you are always emphasizing being a resource fro those who follow. Where would we be without those who went before us?



  2. I have seen and interacted with several people who were “sold” on the ‘dream’ of making a film and being known for it. It certainly is one way to “come out”. But it’s also a case of caveat emptor. Not that I would want to remove anyone’s dreams but sometimes they seem to come out as jokes and portraying the trans* person in a bad way. I think people sign on the dotted line, they are seeing stars in their eyes and visions of cash and Oscars cloud their thinking. It’s rather like the “Pink Fog” (which I know floats around PINKEssence from time to time) where you put on a dress and suddenly you’re “a woman” when the truth is it takes a tad more effort than that.

    But then fame can happen, just look at Harmony Santana. There are plenty of people who have made success, maybe not on screen or TV, but just by being themselves. Look at Lana Moore. Very successful and wonderful woman who just goes to work day in and day out and does her job. She holds people in high regard and boosts their confidence. That’s the kind of fame I really admire. It’s not about the lights, cameras, props and makeup (well, OK maybe it is about the makeup!) but just in the purpose of being nice to one another, showing respect above all else.

    That should be all and more than enough to make anyone famous!

    • Hey Samantha,

      Wise words, and thank you for sharing! I have zero interest in fame though. My life is easier without it, and there is nothing it gives that I want or need. I’m coming more from the perspective of really not caring who knows what about me, and whether it’s accurate of not. In a way, as long as it didn’t hurt trans causes, I think it would be kind of fun to have it all butchered up, so long as they didn’t make me out to be someone who boils puppies in their spare time. 🙂



  3. Most of the Documentaries didn’t get to print, some did is what was said by the few that responded and when their stories were told the ones that said theirs did said it didn’t cause them a problem.
    I have heard from a few girl that I have talked to that has been interviewed and did have a Documentary make it to print wishes they didn’t, only because after a wile they realize that it was yet another way they lost their sense of privacy.
    I have also became a topic of the water cooler discussions, hard to ignore, do I want more, No. I at least have the identity that is mine when I’m where no one knows me, why would I want to ruin that as well?
    I am very grateful to those who have put themselves out there, we have all learned a great deal from them. Interesting topic as always:)

    Yours, Tedie

    • Thanks Erin and well said. 🙂 Now that I’ve been the topic of water cooler discussions, once my very worst fear, and it hasn’t meant a thing to me, I simply gave up caring about it. Ah, such freedom!




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