Content warning: workplace sexual harassment

Content warning: sexual harassment, non-consensual touching

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I was sexually harassed at work today.
There is a man with whom I work, he seems like a friendly older guy. He’s in his fifties, which isn’t even really old, but he’s had some injuries and is less mobile so I think maybe he seems older. Anyway, we’ve had pleasant interactions. He owns one of the newer Corvette Stingrays. We’ve talked a little about that and just other small talk.
Today, he was showing me pictures of some modifications on his car, ground effects, I think the car guys call them. He was talking about how the driver’s side one is different from the passenger side just a bit, and that the shop he had install them had considered altering that one, but eventually decided not to, because “that carbon fiber is paper thin…”
As he said that, he took his free hand and grabbed a part of my dress in the neckline/decolletage area, and said something along the lines of “it’s no thicker than this.” “This” being the fabric of my dress. This dress, and my bra, kind of lift my chest in a manner I’m sure folks are familiar with. So, I can’t remember if he actually touched my skin, but his finger was inside my dress without my consent and very, very close to my left breast.
I was shocked. I froze. All I could do was get through the conversation. He was in the office area I share with a group of folk, and at my desk. I was seated, I didn’t really have an out.
Finally, he left.
My hands were shaking (I have a tremor, and this was a lot more shaking than usual.) I was on the edge of crying. I reached out to some of my female and afab friends, wondering if I was overreacting.
I worry that, because I’ve only been “visibly female” (whatever that really means) in the world for such a relatively short time, maybe I overreacted. My friends assured me I had not. It’s possible it was innocent, but he definitely needs to know that touching anyone in that way, or really anything beyond a handshake with a coworker, is inappropriate.
I reached out to HR and my department head (she’s only recently been promoted, and was my boss before, and she’s another woman and someone I can talk to.) Anyway, I got ahold of her, and was able to tell her. She took notes and let me know she planned to reach out to HR. (Someone different, maybe higher up than those I reached out to.) We then chatted a bit about other things, which I think may have been her strategy to help me calm down.
I keep wanting to say “the worst thing is…” but there are like 50 worst things. The way I froze, how I questioned myself right after, how I said, “I don’t necessarily want anything to happen other than for this to be documented,” even though I’m the one who had to fight to not cry at work (mostly successful) and has had a crappy evening trying to distract myself and not cry now. But I guess I’d hate for him to feel bad, or something. What is wrong with me?
Now I find myself wishing I had some shapeless potato sack to wear to work tomorrow in order to avoid anyone seeing me and being tempted by my body or whatever.
I’m sure tomorrow will involve following up with HR and going from there.
Don’t touch folks without their consent, okay?

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Hurray! (for Lingerie!)

Kim Caldwell, a.k.a. Kimmay has put together an absolutely lovely article about trans women and lingerie.  She and I had some online interactions leading up to the publishing, and she interviewed some other notable trans folk.  It’s really cute, and I hope you’ll give it a read.

Kim is all over the internet, you should check her out!
Website: hurraykimmay.com
Instagram: @HurrayKimmay
Twitter: @HurrayKimmay
Facebook: /HurrayKimmay
Pinterest: /HurrayKimmay

Will I have more fun?

Folks may have noticed something a little different about me lately… I went blonde! Not something I’d considered doing in a million years.


I wear wigs. 29ish years of testosterone poisoning resulted in a very masculine hairline that can’t be hidden with bangs or length. But, wigs can be fun, so I’m not too upset about it.

I had to go to a new salon to acquire my newest ‘do. I’d communicated with Alicia, my new stylist, by phone and email. I’d sent some pics of my previous style and let her know a bit about my love of vintage dresses and just generally gave her a sense of who I am. Hair is A BIG PART of how we present ourselves to the world, after all.

It was a bit of a drive, but worth it! Alicia had ordered a new wig of the same style I’d been wearing because I honestly thought I’d just be going back to it. She also had picked out a couple for me to try.

It wasn’t quite love-at-first-sight with this darling, but I felt something. I snapped a few selfies and sent them to friends for their thoughts. I actually chickened out, initially. I’d asked her to order this style in a brunette with red highlights. I drove home (about an hour and a half) and checked my messages, and people were going nuts over this new style/color. Even my mother, whom I STRONGLY resemble (especially with dark hair,) said she liked it. So, I called Alicia back and asked if we could go with this one instead. She was so sweet and gracious and said she thought the reactions would be good. She shipped this lovely to me overnight!

So now, I’m blonde! Will I have more fun? Perhaps I already have been…

Apologies for my absence

Good morning.  I apologize for my extended absence.  Hopefully, you’re following me on Twitter, @fiercelytrans, I’m a bit more vocal there.  I enjoy the character limit and how it forces one to be pithy.  (I tend to get wordy left to my own devices, adding parentheticals and other such nonsense…)

I started taking anti-depressants at about the time I disappeared from here.  They have helped improve my quality of life immensely, but they also took away my drive to write.  I didn’t feel like I could write.  I do have a podcast, Adult Salad: Undressing The Podcast, with other sex-positive, queer-positive, and all-around amazing people.  I recommend giving it a listen.  We tend to balance out the serious topics with general silliness, it’s a blast.

I have a lot to say, especially with trump’s announcement that he will enforce a ban on transgender service members in the United States Military.  I am a transgender veteran, and I served while trans, even though I couldn’t transition while I was in the Navy.  I separated largely because of that.  I actually considered going back in after President Obama enacted common-sense, inclusive policy.

Anyway, I’m back, and I intend to be more regular with my writing.  Hope folks are still here.  ❤

Shame

Shame (ding!)

(this is a companion piece written after the Adult Salad crew recorded episode four of our podcast Adult Salad:Undressing the Podcast )

I can only speak to life here in the United States, but we live in a society that at once celebrates sex and denigrates the sexual. The white European Christian puritanical roots of our nation affect most of us in some way. I think that a lot of us experience shame when we do things which deviate from the cultural norms this history has thrust upon us. This shame can manifest or be triggered in our interactions with others who don’t share our views, those who have bought into the established cultural norms.

There are many types of shaming falling into the category mentioned above. Sexuality, relationship structure, body, gender identity, and more are often concepts by which we may be shamed.

Being visibly trans, I’ve experienced attempts to shame me for my identity, my existence. I think that largely, the best weapon against this kind of shame is knowledge. Reading studies, knowing the facts and being ready to rebut attacks from ignorant folks helps me to guard myself from the negative feelings people are trying to create. 

Most of those interactions come from the Internet, where distance and relative anonymity allow people to express their opinions with,  most often,  few to no consequences. In these situations, rational argument is largely irrelevant, except, as mentioned in the podcast, the hope that others may read the exchange and see reason, whereas the original antagonist probably won’t.

In-person shaming is typically less direct or intentional. There is an assumption, based on how the majority of people present themselves, that we all buy into the Western white European Christian puritanical values. Even as those slide into the past where they belong, new assumed norms take their place. These forms of shaming are typically not intentional or malicious, but rather, they spring from ignorance and assumptions.

An example I recall is that, early on in my transition, I associated almost exclusively with lesbian identified women. Being accepted into the circle felt amazing on its own, as the Internet had told me that lesbians hate trans women. Fortunately, that was not true here. However, there are often casual comments and jokes about penises. How gross they are, how no self-respecting lesbian would touch one, etc. I believe this came from a couple more old fashioned assumed norms. The first being that all women have vaginas. The second being that the eventual goal of trans women is to have gender confirming surgery to alter the genitals they were born with.

The first point is changing, millennials and younger folk are growing up learning that, in some cases, our assignment at birth is incorrect, so, some women have penises, some men have vaginas, there are intersex people who do not wish to have surgery to alter the natural state of their bodies, etc. As to the second point, I’ll discuss my desire, or possible lack thereof, to pursue gender confirming surgeries another time. The important things are that, labiaplasty with penile inversion is extremely costly, risky, and leads to months of pain in recovery. There are other reasons, but many trans women choose not to, or simply can’t afford to undergo genital reconstruction.

I don’t want to shame these women for being penis averse. Sometimes you have a preference for genital configurations, and that is okay. I think more modern conceptions of sexuality are emerging in which people are happy with whatever they find in a partner’s pants, but we are far from that being the cultural norm. I personally always make sure a partner knows that I have my original plumbing. Additionally, my current social group is less lesbian-centric and features more queer-identified women. I’ve safely been able to say, “Some women have penises,” without derailing the conversation.

Well, that went long, the takeaway is that knowledge helps both sides. Knowledge can help you defend yourself against feeling shame; and being open to new ideas and willing to listen goes a long way to help avoid unknowingly shaming others.

Connections

At work yesterday, and I ran into a coworker in the hall.  I could tell she had something on her mind, and I stopped to chat. She told me about a very personal health situation she’s going through, and how she won’t be around the office for several months.

I was worried about her and  touched that she’d confided in me. She has always been very kind and supportive of me as I transitioned in the work place. I asked her if I could give her a hug, and we hugged for the first time. I hope she gets to feeling better and is able to return. I’ll miss our smiles and greetings, just little things like that.

I remember she had kind words for me a long time ago, pre-transition, I led some training in a new software application. She was very complimentary when we spoke after.

I don’t think that these connections only happen now because I’m perceived as a woman. I do think that because I feel so much better about who I am that I’m more authentic and open in my interactions. Connections feel more real.

I’ll miss her while she’s out, but I know she’ll get healthy again and we’ll be trading smiles and pleasantries, and maybe even more hugs, soon.

Play Party, Chicago July 2016

I recently took an overnight trip to Chicago, where I went attended what one could consider my second play party, but in terms of participation, was my first. Somewhat interestingly, until attending Catalyst Con earlier this year, I’d considered myself vanilla and nearly asexual, so spare was my desire for sexual interaction. Catalyst really seemed to trigger a change in those feelings. Finding myself feeling desirable seemed to reawaken my feelings of desire for others.

This change has been good and… less good. I’ve been dating again, which has been a mixed bag. It’s interesting and heartening that my bad date stories don’t really differ from those of my cis girlfriends. Thankfully, though my local area was seeming to be a bit dry, I’ve kept in touch with many of the amazing people I connected with at Catalyst. Among them, a lovely couple. I’ve chatted with them almost every day for quite a while now. They worked with some other folks from up in the city and the plan for a play party was hatched.

The plan was made about a month out. Enough lead time to really let that desire sink in, especially with a few bad dates resulting in a stronger need for human connection. Also, flirting via chat client helped…

Finally, the day was at hand! I was excited, maybe a little nervous, but I knew this group was good with consent and believed strongly in safer sex. I’d been sure to get myself tested, as I want others to feel as safe with me as I hoped to with them!

I arrived in the city, and after a short cab ride, had a great meet up and lovely dinner with the couple I’d been chatting with, a fellow I’d also been chatting with, and a woman who was a new acquaintance. We stopped by Trader Joe’s on the way back to the hotel to pick up wine and snacks, then enjoyed hanging out and chatting for a while. I freshened up (quick leg shave!) and put on a pretty dress, because even if the plan was to end up naked, I wanted to start with a cute outfit!

Folks arrived and delicious wine started flowing. We chatted and flirted and cuddled and had what was really a great party already. Then, we started coupling off. I remember that I’d been physically flirting with the gentleman of the couple I’d been talking to, but we ended up playing separately. Another great gentleman entertained me, and hopefully I him. It was lovely.  We kissed and made out, enjoying the contact and intimacy. He pleasured me manually, which was nice, to say the least.

After everyone had a nice time in small groups, we reconvened on the king size bed, most of us naked, I wearing my lace thong because I prefer to keep my lady bits tucked away. We sat and drank wine and continued the lovely social part of the party, y’know… but naked. The gentleman with whom I’d paired demonstrated his masterful skill with impact play by flogging me in front of everyone. I was bent over the corner of the bed, facing everyone, as he put his knowledge into practice on my bare ass. It was delightful! Being flogged by a skilled person is about more than just pain. It’s a sensual experience involving not only the sharp snap of the flogger’s many tails, but also lighter strikes and even just gently grazing the ends across the recipient’s backside. It was lovely.

Delighting in the sensation but needing to rest, I joined everyone on the big bed, climbing over and briefly straddling one of the fellows whom I new was somewhat attracted to me. We chatted and drank the delicious wine until I think we ladies began slipping into slumber. I  believe I was not the first, but probably not by much. It was a lovely evening, and a great entrée into play parties.

The next day was lovely. I woke up in a bed all to myself, which was okay. I cleaned up a bit, and relaxed, hearing other couples wake up and enjoy their mornings together. We got up and got ready, then went in search of food and coffee. It was great, the remaining five of us having a lovely meal together after a wonderful night.

After breakfast, it was myself and the couple with whom I’ve been chatting for so long. We snuggled, the delightfully tall gentleman settled between us gals, and the other woman and I held hands and entangled our legs so that we all felt connected. It was so lovely. We chatted and cuddled and enjoyed our final hours of this trip together. Hands began to wander, and clothes were removed. An incredible time was had by the three of us. It felt natural, the way we all enjoyed each other’s company. It was really wonderful.

After, I had to hurriedly fix my makeup and get back to the train station for the ride home, basking in the evening sun as it streamed through the window, and the warm memories of an amazing experience.