Educating the World – Person to Person

I had a rather cool experience recently which showed me how small the world is – and how the right approach can cause people to be accepting even when you don’t expect it. My friend Abby suggested I share it with you all.

It all started one day at work – I was at lunch with my boss, co-worker G. and my trusty retirement-age volunteer worker D.

G. was talking about practicing guitar with his Tucson-based death metal band the night before and his musical history and aspirations. After some time, D. said to G. “You don’t happen to know a musician called something Blackstone, do you?”

G: “No, I don’t think so…”
D: “I forget his first name… something beginning with B…”
Me: “Bruce, perhaps?”
D: “That might be it. Yes, because the interesting thing about him was that he was in the paper recently…”
Me: “Oh, yes – I know him.”
D: “Yes, the paper wrote about him – he came out as a cross-dresser. So, how do you know him?”
Me: “Um… oh, the paper my husband worked for wrote an article about the band he is in…”
D: “Maybe that was the article!”
Me: “Oh, no… you read the recent one about the IFGE conference. The other one was back last year some time.”
D: “Oh, okay. Anyway, he does wonderful cabinetry. He did our whole kitchen. Very nice guy.”
Me: “Yes, he is.”

And that might have been the end of it. Except that, of course, it wasn’t. On reflection, I sent this email to D. after he’d left for the day:

You might be amused by this video that a friend of ours made, interviewing Bruce right after he’d talked to the Arizona Daily Star reporter

D. only volunteers for us one day a week, and he didn’t return my email, so I was a little apprehensive going in to work the next Wednesday. As I was walking up from the parking lot, I saw him, and he stopped to wait for me to catch up. He had a broad grin on his face and the first thing he said to me was:

“Thank you for that video link you sent me with Bruce in it. We really enjoyed watching that one! Yup, that’s our Bruce!”

I felt so happy to have been a part of helping educate the straight, white middle-class neighborhoods of Northeast Tucson!

On hearing of the reaction of D. and his wife, Bruce said:

Thank you for letting me know about [D. and J.] They are repeat clients of mine and great people.

Since I am becoming more and more out, I realize that eventually the knowledge of who I really am will inevitably creep into my work life sometimes. This has caused me a little bit of concern because I am self employed and loss of income can be frightening … so far as I can tell there have been no consequences to my business by my being out. So , thank you for letting me know about [D. and J.] – it’s also good in that [they] are now far less likely to have a negative reaction to other trans people.

The message I hope to get across is that it is truly worth it to share your true selves and those of your friends with others, even if you think they may not be accepting. Their reaction will often depend upon your demeanor as you talk to them. I tried to be as matter-of-fact as I could be, presenting the fact that I knew “that side” of Bruce as perfectly normal and natural. Whether you are yourself transgendered, or a SOFFA, you have a role to play, large or small, in educating the rest of the world.

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4 Responses

  1. Liz,

    Thanks for sharing this story. I think it’s an excellent example of how SO’s of trans people and other allies can help educate the public that we exist in the world and aren’t really all that strange or different than any one else. We work, we love, we play and we just want to be happy and be treated with respect and dignity, just like they do!

    Blessings,
    Abby

  2. Hearing a story like this gives me a extra fuel I need to continue to do these silly videos if I can somehow reach and educate another person in a safe and friendly way. And it’s not about me… people see the authenticity in people like Bruce and connect to his heart and spirit. I’m certain people like Bruce will continue to lead by example winning “hearts and minds” over one at a time.

  3. I think one of the key things about Bruce is that he’s not living a double life — man at work, something non-male after hours. He’s just himself all the time, and not like some sort of quick-change superhero living under an assumed name.

    It takes courage; if Bruce hadn’t done that himself, then this story wouldn’t have happened. It would have been a situation where everyone would have to walk on eggshells to avoid “outing Bruce”. Bruce’s example is one that we could all learn from.

  4. In a world where it appears that the only news that the press will ever accept is bad news, we as a community need to do things to counteract any negative ‘spin’ they may put on our lives. Thankfully the press does seem to have actually improved somewhat, but all those years of bad publicity have had an influence on the public’s psyche! Because while newspaper readers perceive us as ‘strange’ the press will keep reporting unusual things about us.

    However, person by person, starting with friends and family we girls can take over the world! And perhaps more importantly make life easier for those girls yet to come. Changing the world’s perceptions is one hell of a job!!! But we really do need to all get started!!

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