Marianne Dawson – I’d Like You to Know

“I get to be me!”

[One of the hardest parts has been] how other people treated me. I think that I speak generally for anyone who’s gone through any kind of, “I’m out and this is who I am.” It doesn’t have to be just transgender. I think coming out is really difficult. People who don’t understand. People who don’t want to understand. Even [with] people who understand . . . there is tolerance, and there is acceptance. Tolerance is what I would expect medical staff would do. Be respectful and tolerate that I’m coming to the office. Provide me the care that I’m asking for, and then I’m just going to be out of your hair. I can’t tell you what happens when I leave their office and what conversations occur, and I don’t really care to entertain that, because it’s nothing pretty, you know. It’s [hurtful] when those comments are directed to you, either face-to-face or through a third person perspective with you being there. Talking about you, but not to you. Those can be hurtful. And it’s not just heterosexual people. It’s even within the GLBT community.

For the most part, as long as I have been post-op, I seem to get along with people. I seem to be tolerated, if not accepted, by mostly everybody. I have a very dear friend, who I’ve been friends with for 15 years, who just recently had a parting of the ways. My friend doesn’t really get along well with my husband. She thinks that he hates women, and the reason why our marriage is successful is because I’m not “really” a woman. This is somebody I’ve been friends with for 15 years, and she said that. It was hurtful to me! I don’t know whether she just doesn’t realize it, or what. But there are people who do know the difference, who speak like that to somebody who is GLBT. I think that’s the hardest.

[Once] I was walking in the daytime downtown. I was going to someplace. I was passing by what is the Ridpath, when it was open. There was some kind of a convention going on there with cowboys. Some of them looked pretty nice, you know. I’m on the street corner there, walking south on [Stevens] at the corner of the convention center that they have there, and these guys were standing out there. Some were out talking guy things, some were smoking cigarettes, and they saw me and some whistled. And some of them—I could hear them talking, it’s like, “That’s not a woman.” Then they started taking, lots, on whether I was a woman or not. Now, they weren’t talking to me, but they were talking about me. That was hurtful. There’s things like that that occur. That’s hard.

By the time I got two blocks away, I forgot about it already, because I dismiss things really quick. Especially if it hurts. I’m just able to do that. Some people can’t. I’m able to do that, because, you know, I don’t want to go through my life in pain from that instance. So, I just let it go. People are going to be people. I understand that not everybody is going to accept me or to tolerate me for who I am. Or how I look to them. Or whatever. I understand that. Those people I don’t want to be around. If for some reason I’m thrust in a situation where I do need to be around them, then there needs to be a mediator. Somebody who can say, “Well, you’re kind of crossing the line a little bit here. You need to not do this. Be more professional.” I think that was probably one of the hardest things [about being transgender].

[The best part has been] I get to be me! That’s big. [Sighs.] Yeah. I just get to be me. And I’ve been happy. Prior to my surgery, I would always ask myself, “Do I want to look that way?” After surgery I’d say, “Yeah. I’m happy.” I went to all kinds of therapy to make sure my head was on right, and apparently it was. I’ve never had any regrets [about my surgery], like some. Those cases are few. I had my moments where I contemplated suicide, but that happened before, when I was heterosexual. Depression sets in and, “Oh, I think I’ll just kill myself.” I’ve never had those thoughts since my surgery. I’ve got a happy life since.

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Sources: Interviews with Maureen Nickerson on 18 November 2006 and 9 December 2006, held at the Museum of Arts and Culture; Interview with Laura S. Hodgman on 16 February 2013.