Undesired compliments

By , February 28, 2010 4:13 pm

Another tenant in the building where I work came into our office recently. She was asking about our upcoming production, so I gave her the info and encouraged her to come if she’s able. She thanked me, but as she was leaving she turned and said, “You’ve really blossomed this last year. I wanted you to know how beautiful you are.” I smiled, thanked her, and said polite goodbyes.

I need to get out of that office.

I appreciate where she was coming from, and obviously what she said was better than the alternative. But I hate that I’m working somewhere I haven’t simply chosen to be out, I’m inherently out by my long history of working in the same building.

I’m assuming I’ll be out (eventually) at whatever job I’m at. But there’s a difference between choosing to tell someone about your history, and having them been there for it and possess insider knowledge, regardless of how much disclosure you’d like to offer.

13 Responses to “Undesired compliments”

  1. Jonah says:

    I wouldn’t be so certain that that comment means that she knows (unless there was more to it than that). Especially if the other tenant is old and grandmotherly.
    I got a whole lot of compliments after going on T from guys who had seen me around and wanted to congratulate me on my new facial hair and tell me how much more manly I looked- “I was starting to think you didn’t have it in you,” said one – but they didn’t know I was trans. It was awkward, and it was because they noticed the physical transition, but it didn’t actually accompany any knowledge that I going through anything but puberty.

  2. Ariel says:

    I left a job once for somewhat/barely similar reasons. I worked at a small family owned restaurant with my brother for ages during a really dark time in our families history (my father lost his job a couple years back and his alcoholism took a really bad turn) that I happened to react to rather poorly (sleeping with other employees, drinking a lot myself, general poor self-management) and even after my family life got better, I calmed down and started acting responsibly, and even after the employees that I was sleeping with left, I found it to be really difficult to be there working with people who had seen me through all of that. I eventually ended up quitting and working elsewhere for a year and a half, then went back to the previous job. I’m really glad I had. I had grown in the time separated from a place I associated with my issues and by the time I went back it didn’t bother me so much anymore working with people who knew. I know these are vastly (VASTLY)different issues, but maybe taking a break from your job and working in a town over where people don’t know you so well would help you find your way back into yourself and introduce a situation where no one knows you as anyone other than the you you are.

    • Rebecca says:

      I think that sounds like it’s totally a similar situation, in that it’s having a history with people – and with a place – that makes staying there difficult. It’s been really hard for me to think about leaving my current job, and I’m still not 100% decided, but I’m feeling more and more like I need to be employed elsewhere for a while. I’m just not sure how long, or if it’s a short enough time that I could just take a break or a sabbatical; I would hate to take a month off and them come back and still need to quit!

      • Ariel says:

        I honestly feel like it would take longer than a month to fully disassociate yourself and your history from a place, especially since it’s been a part of your life for so long. /4cents

        • Rebecca says:

          That’s kinda what I’m thinking. I want to find a reason to justify my staying at this job, not least of which is because looking for and starting a new job is scary and hard, but I’m feeling more and more like I need to go elsewhere.

  3. piny says:

    I had a woman come up to me at the gym last year and say, “You look perfect. I used to see you in here [and what she thought then, God only knows], and you’ve done a great job.”

    On the one hand, it made me feel really gratified. On the other hand, it made me feel really depressed.

    You just went through a lot of emotional stuff. Maybe you could give yourself some time to decide whether you need to leave? A month doesn’t sound like long–can you take a short break to just rest? A vacation instead of a hiatus? You could walk around Lakeshore and hang out with total strangers and so forth.

    • Rebecca says:

      That’s exactly the kind of situation I’m talking about. Something that’s said with the best of intentions, and intended to be really complimentary, but also indicates the person has a certain knowledge of you that maybe you wish they didn’t.

      And yeah, a mini-vacation sounds like a really good idea. I need to start checking my calendar.

  4. joey says:

    I recently started a new job where only one person knows I’m trans (my supervisor, with whom I have a mutual friend). It’s comforting that my transness isn’t always on the table. I know that some of my coworkers must suspect, but it’s hard to know for sure. In fact, one coworker who I thought definitely knew, tried to commiserate with me about PMS the other day. I plan on coming out at some point not too far in the future. But for now I want my identity to be first and foremost female.

    If you can find a job where you can start fresh, I think you’ll enjoy the experience of not being out by circumstance but by choice.

    • Rebecca says:

      If you can find a job where you can start fresh, I think you’ll enjoy the experience of not being out by circumstance but by choice.

      I’m feeling more and more like that’d be the case. Which is hard, because there’s lots I do like about my current job. Just not enough to overpower that history.

  5. violet says:

    People at my job still occasionally screw up pronouns (it’s been half a year). Not hugely often, but it makes me pretty sad when it happens.

    That said, I also didn’t change how I dressed or anything (most days) when telling people to switch pronouns. Maybe that makes it harder on folks, but I feel like I shouldn’t have to.

    I love my job, but in some ways it’ll be nice to start over with the next one. Not that I’ll be closeted (not that I think I *can* be closeted) but that people won’t have all the wrong practice to overwrite.

    • Rebecca says:

      Not that I’ll be closeted (not that I think I *can* be closeted) but that people won’t have all the wrong practice to overwrite.

      Exactly!

  6. Your Personal Troll says:

    OMG get over yourself! She said you’re beautiful, be happy, she accepts you for who you are. Now get the fuck over the fact that you couldn’t choose what she knows about the fact that perhaps you used to look like/identify as a guy.

    Oh my god.

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