Millionaire Was Misgendered, I Was Triggered (From Martine Rothblatt to Me)

Even when you’re a person of extreme wealth and privilege, being visibly trans is a challenge. For once, that fact is oddly comforting.

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This morning I decided to watch a Ted Talk that featured Martine Rothblatt. Martine’s life story is incredible. The Washington Post said of her:

Let’s be clear: Martine Rothblatt is just plain more of a lawyer than anybody else in this town.

The 60-year-old grandmother and CEO of United Therapeutics, the Silver Spring-based biotech she founded to help save her younger daughter’s life, banked $38 million last year. It made her the nation’s highest-paid female executive. It also made her the nation’s highest-paid transgendered person, as she had sex reassignment surgery in 1994.

She is an amazing person, living an amazing life, doing amazing things. Yet someone that is interviewing her, who is in obvious awe of her and her accomplishments, misgenders her. No amount of wealth, prestige, or accomplishment stops this from happening.

I’m well past being triggered by being misgendered, but there was a time in my life that it would literally send me into a depression. Even though I’ve learned through Schema Therapy to deal with those triggers, it still has impact. At times it still feels like the person I see isn’t the person that everyone else does. At times being visibly trans still weighs on me.

As I said before, I don’t regret transitioning, but I understand it. Even when you’re a person of extreme wealth and privilege, being visibly or openly trans is a challenge. For once, that fact is oddly comforting.

I Get Trans Regret

This morning I read an excellent post over at Crossdreamer’s Tumblr blog about transition regret (also a great post by Brynn Tannehill) . I’ll say up front that I don’t regret transition, but I do understand it. From the post:

“Some of the male to female regretters have clearly been caught up in some very restrictive ideas of what it means to be a woman.”

and:

“I should add that this does not mean that all regretters detransition because they believe in sexist stereotypes.

Given the complexity of sex and gender, the fact that all transsexuals have been raised as the gender they were assigned at birth, the social pressure to conform and the bigotry of others, I am surprised that there are not more stories of regret. But the fact remains that no more than 1 to 4 percent regret transitioning.”

I’ve always tried to live authentically, as opposed to trying to emulate one side of the gender binary. I don’t have cis-privilege. Cisgender means not transgender, and cis-privilege or “passing privilege”

“speaks to how perceived gender/sex alignment means not having to think or address topics that those without cisgender privilege have to deal with, often on a daily basis.”

I’ve always identified as a trans woman. I don’t think of myself as non-binary necessarily, unless your idea of what a woman is very stereotypical, much like the regetters in the post. But my authenticity has come at a cost. I was never passed over for a job before transition, but now I’m on about my 30th at work. The quality of my work hasn’t changed, I’ve never received a bad review, and I have excellent references. It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to hazard a guess as to why I suddenly am not worthy of a job I have good references for and  a solid work history.

I know plenty of truly wonderful trans women that are in the same position as I. They struggle at work. They struggle to find companionship. They just fucking struggle. Truth be told, as much as people talk about cherishing diversity, the people that succeed and are held up as successful live within the binary.

I don’t regret transition, but I understand why some do. Cis people can make transgender people’s lives pretty awful. Kelsie at the Huffington Post nails it:

“There is a de-facto hierarchy under the umbrella, whereby those who identify with a binary gender have become the primary focus of our outreach and advocacy and therefore fare better than those who not. I am not going to dissect the past 20 years or so of activism or discuss the reasons why. It does not matter why this has happened, the numbers gathered by NCTE shows that this just simply cannot continue to be left unchecked. While the data on trans binary individuals shows unacceptable incidence of harassment, assault, attempted suicide, joblessness, homelessness and murder, the data for non-binary transgender respondents in the NCTE study shows HIGHER rates when compared to those with a binary trans identity. Often staggeringly so.”

Because I didn’t win the biology wheel of cis-fortune, I’m living a hard life. It’s an authentic life that I cherish.  I’ve come to know and value myself in a way few people do, but I’m always aware of the cost of being me.