The "Narrative" (Part 2)
I was couch surfing a few years back in-between sales trips. I put an application into a local call center in hopes of finding something that would allow me to stay in Utah rather than be on the road all the time. Within hours I got a phone call from the recruiter asking me about my experiences. I was excited to finally be given the opportunity to have a semi-regular job.
One month later the training class started. I was to work for a call center in their billing department. We started class shortly before Lughnasadh. We began to talk about our previous experiences, what we were interested in like any new class. A couple of weeks in I decided to wear a denim skirt. I had several people tell me it looked good and only one ask me what I was doing. Confidently I told him that I was wearing a skirt because it looked good. He never questioned me again. Time went by and I continued working, occasionally dressing up and overall enjoying that nobody seemed to mind if I wore more feminine attire.
Where I had become so accustomed to being looked down upon for dressing differently that I didn't know what was happening. For me the skirts had become more of a war cry, a challenge saying "come at me". When I did not get the typical response however I began to look closely at my co-workers and saw there was a thriving LGBT community inside of this workplace. People were looking at the work I was accomplishing, not how I was dressing! I breathed a sigh of relief. I didn't have to put on a war face anymore, I could simply be. One day I was out at the smoke shack when Hallie approached me a friend in tow. She asked if I was the one who wore skirts occasionally. Old fears kicked in she was one of our support staff. I replied that I was after which she told me that she thought it was awesome and I looked great in them. She introduced me to her friend Gary. We began to talk about dressing up, relationships and sexuality. Most importantly I found out that these two were just people looking to make a new friend.
My boss at the time was worried about me. I was still having a great many days where dealing with people both in-person and over the phone was such a dauntless task that I called in quite often. I got close to the point where I was in danger of losing my job. He pulled me aside and told me about the opportunities of helping out our new hire employees as a transition coach. I made my mind then, that if a supervisor recognized in me the skills to be of help even though I was so different that I could help others find the same welcoming environment.
I worked extra over the next several months to get my attendance infractions erased so that I could move into this position When the training classes for our more advanced portion of the project started I was put into the class and excited to again be learning. Here I met Katie and Jessica. The three of us would chat about life, what we wanted to do and overall grew closer throughout the class.
During this time, I was invited to the local Gay bar to celebrate one of our managers moving to a new project. Not wanting to go alone, I invited George to come with me. Gary was there that evening so I decided why not, I was going to flirt with him and see where things went. Dancing and buying him drinks we had a great time. Then he walked over to George and asked to borrow me for a minute. George told him "Yes! get his phone number". We exchanged numbers and set up a date for February. It was a few months later that Gary realized he had asked me out in front of my boyfriend. We still laugh about that at times.
At work, I had graduated the advanced class and began helping the employees on the floor with answering questions. It was an amazing experience to have people looking at me not as the weird person wearing a dress, but instead the person that could help. For nearly 4 months I did not take a single customer phone call but instead just sat at my computer answering chat questions from employees. Finally, the company got enough budget to hire a new Transition coach and Heidi immediately asked me to join the team.
Outside of work, I was starting to go out more. Being social was not something I had let myself do before. I was developing a social network and meeting friends that accepted me for simply being me. I went out to poetry readings, sushi parties, Midnight pie. Life was good. It was during this time that I accepted and embraced the term "Ambigenderous". I could slip into whatever gender I needed to be at the time rolling with the gender roles I needed at that moment. Sometimes it was the Protective boyfriend that would ensure my friends were safe. Other times it was the sensual girlfriend, or a shoulder to cry on and give comfort. Things were great however not quite complete. I formed a plan, set a date of when I wanted to start the medical portion of transition. On my youngest sister's 18th birthday I would begin the full process.
Gary and I now dating began talking, sharing and enjoying each other company more. During the Lughnasadh festival, we went camping with the Pagani here. I have been constantly amazed by him in the now 4+ years we have been dating.
At work, we increased the number of new training classes. I would make it a point to wear a skirt sometime in the second week of each class. I would do so for any number of reasons, most often was to help build confidence in the employees. I would pull them aside and tell them how well they were doing. I would ask them about life outside of work and things they enjoyed. Inevitably they would notice the skirt. If after 20 or so minutes, I would invite their thoughts. While some of the seemed uncomfortable, many were relieved that they did not have to be the one to bring it up. I would tell them that even tough I was frightened at walking to work in a skirt, I made myself do it anyway to prove to myself and anybody looking that it was how I felt that mattered. That even though other people could be (and often were) rude, It was how I felt that really mattered.
Some time passed and new positions were popping up at work. We had trainer positions and Team Leads opening. I was starkly reminded of both the capability for human compassion and fear of the unknown. One of our trainers told my boss at the time they were worried about me applying for training because "what if he wears a dress to train the classes?". I loved more than anything how Heidi responded. "First, why do you assume that he would, and second why would it matter. What he wears is not part of the curriculum". I decided to apply for the managerial position of team lead instead.
I was hired as Team lead in December of 14. With those words of the trainer echoing in my head, I was cautious. I spent 3 months with my new team before I wore a dress or makeup. In this time I was able to establish enough rapport that when they saw me, none of them questioned in the slightest. I've had many new teams/team members since then and realized that I didn't need to wait nearly that long. As long as I was simply myself the employees responded better no matter what I was wearing. Many times people would have questions and wonder why I would wear such strange things. my answers were always the same. Because I look good and it makes me feel good to wear this.
It has been a long journey to this point. Filled with highs and lows of emotion. It is a journey that I would take again due to the amazing people that I have met along the way. Ravenstone's words still ring through my mind: Find a direction, not a destination. Once your direction is set look at the journey as it happens instead of trying to rush through to the end.