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Call Me Miss Non-Anonymous


I have officially forgotten what it was like to be anonymous. No, I wasn’t a hacker with the fearsome power to wreak global havoc or annoy the living shit out of people who probably have it coming. It was more the luxury of gliding through life never turning a single head or being remembered seconds after I walked out the door. I assume, by the way, that this only was true for people who didn’t have existing relationships with me, but I will allow that those who do also managed to blot me from their consciousness when out of view as well. All that has pretty much gone and I have officially changed my designation to non-anonymous. I’m not fabulous enough to be famous, or enough of a grouch to be notorious, so I think non-anonymous is an annoying enough designation to fit my personality.

I don’t really think I need to go into the reasons why this is so. I pretty much went from a nondescript schlub of a guy to kind of a freaky looking woman. Schlubs are a dime a dozen and worth our collective ignorance, but no matter how many freaky looking women there are out there, everyone seems to remember them. I don’t have pink hair or wear shortie short shorts with fishnets beneath them or anything. Actually, I resemble a professional office worker Monday through Friday, and a frumpy middle aged woman the rest of the time. It’s OK though, the trans thing totally makes up for fishnets, multiple piercings, and an uncomfortable amount of leather.

It took a while before I realized this, but lately it’s been reinforced. More than once now I’ve gone into a store and had the cashier say, “hey, I remember you!”. I was Wal-Mart, the one everyone shops at, and chances are every single person in her line has gone though it dozens of times. I’m the one she remembers though. It could be worse. At least I’m not the one she remembers for a weekly purchase of a case of Imodium or industrial sized drum of Vaseline or something. I don’t think, however, it’s for the charming way I end each transaction by saying, “Thanks! You too!”. Just must be something about my face.

This was really driven home when in another store I frequent less often. I was walking out the door, when one of the cashiers I was passing made a point to turn and wave, “Hi Michelle!”. OK, I had been though the guy’s line exactly once about a month and a half ago. I remembered him because he was extra nice to me, which I assumed was because he made me and was gay, so we shared that LGBT connection. But seriously, he remembered my name? We didn’t even converse much and I didn’t introduce myself I know for sure. Obviously he noticed it on my credit card and made it a point to remember. Not sure how I feel about that. Flattered maybe? I don’t know, but certainly non-anonymous.

This is going to take some time getting used to and really reinforces that I have to get off my widening ass and work on becoming more passable. I’m not sure I’m made for the limelight in this regard. While I did used to muse on the advantages of becoming a local character, this wasn’t what I was thinking of. I had more in mind something along the lines of being that person who rode around town on a unicycle everywhere with a large raven on their shoulder. You see, that would have been on purpose. When I want to buy new underwear or something, I’m really not that jazzed about pointed shouts, “Look! It’s Michelle and she’s going for the cheap-ass three pack this time!” Ugh.

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.

8 responses »

  1. I stuck out like a sore thumb before and I still do. When I started HRT I was 6’5″ 225lbs of vibrant ENFP. Now I am happier, a little louder, a little more of an extrovert, and am 1″ shorter due to muscle loss. People remembered me before but as with your experience they are more likely to remember my name now. I transitioned in a tiny town in rural GA and did not experience any overt discrimination there. They like me before, they like me afterwards. I am really enjoying reading your blog. I really like the way you think. 😀

    • Thanks Traci! I really appreciate your commenting! I’d love to hear more about transition in the rural south and I’m very glad to hear that for you it went better than your typical Yankee would have thought. 🙂

  2. Taking your post on a slightly different tangent…a while ago “Janie BlacK” wrote a post on her blog basically asking the question – would you rather be remembered as a sharp attractive trans woman or not remembered at all as a bland woman?
    Just food for thought for those who are working diligently at transitioning-or maybe have not decided on how they identify…CD, trans etc.

    • Excellent question! For me, not remembered as a bland woman. 🙂 I’m just not made for the stage, but admire those who want to take it.

      • Cyrsti and Michelle,
        I have called on the Janie/Cyrsti/Michelle visible/invisible conundrum a couple of times lately. I usually blend in fairly well, for a 6 foot tall Moose Lady, but not in certain settings. The other evening we went to a Burlesque show (no, really, it was! And in Boise Idaho!) to see a friend’s daughter in her comedy sketches. We were happy to get seats right up front in the center until I realized that I was AMAZINGLY VISIBLE to the entire audience. I was right there at the center aisle lit up by the footlights. I had to make a trip to the bar and was mortified to have to stand up in front of a crowd that was totally keyed into performance, drag shows and clean, naughty excitement. A total “see and be seen” crowd. I knew I would be read instantly by three quarters of the audience. I decided there were two ways to do it, try to be invisible and fail or make an excellent impression. I chose to straighten my hair, stand up tall, chin up, chest out, smile big, look people in the eye and stride on up the aisle. I just prayed that my brand new boots would stay under me. That turned out to be the easy part. the hard part was getting back to the seats through the milling crowd with 3 hard ciders in squishy plastic cups without taking a bath in sticky fizzy liquid. Not as much poise and panache in that half of the trip!

        I decided to implant the sharp trans woman impression because I knew I was going to get clocked like never before. I would show them some pride and poise! Gloriously, the next day I tossed on jeans and a loose blouse and went to the grocery store as Miss Invisible and LOVED IT!!! If I’m going to get read I want to get read as a classy confident trans gal who isn’t afraid.

  3. Yep. Totally understand. Trying to get used to it. Still would not go back, though.

  4. Oh my God I so identify with this post!!!

  5. Oh Michelle, this is so totally “it!” I realized recently that being “readable” is a freaky kind of responsibility. I always find myself worrying about the next T gal coming along behind me. The next one coming up to the court clerk’s desk to get a name change processed or the timid gal going to the nail place where she’ll sit down with the neighborhood regulars. I feel like I need to make the best impression I can so everyone involved will have a positive impression of my sisters and brothers. It would be so much simpler to just be invisible!!!


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