Thursday, October 29, 2015

Meeting Up

Me after a recent Meetup (also recent grocery shopping)

There's this thing about Facebook. It makes you hate everyone you know because people only ever post up the good, amazing things in their lives. You see your old high school friends partying, travelling the world, going on vacations, having fun dinners. Then you look at your own life spent at your job, commuting in the rain, eating vegetables, brushing your teeth, and you start to worry that other people have it amazing and your own life sucks. Of course, everyone's life sucks, it's just that we don't tend to broadcast that fact to the world. Unless we're whiny Debbie Downers and then it's okay to hate us.

So, I'm about to broadcast some negative stuff in my life. And not to complain or whine or Debbie Down (yes I made that into a verb), but rather to show people out there that my life is not all rainbows, sunshine, free Haribo gummi bears and unicorn rides. Yeah, I totally go on unicorn rides sometimes, but not always.

Okay. I want girl friends. Well, actually all my friends are girls. But, I want more girl friends and I'd love to meet new people to hang out with. Me and my imaginary new friend could go shopping, do lunch, meet up for happy hour or go out on the town! Plus I also want more friends who only know me as Faith. To them I'm just a girl and always have been.

I'm just a girl. You know, like in that No Doubt song.
Meetup groups seemed like a really good way to meet new people so I joined a few. First I tried a coed board gaming group (there are like a million board gaming groups) and while I was accepted at the meetup, I didn't really have fun. But that sort of had to do with the fact that I missed out on Catan and ended up playing Munchkin with some annoyinglt competitive people. Ah well, at least they used the right pronouns, but I didn't really connect with anyone.

Next I tried a ladies' happy hour group. This made me so nervous! Unlike a regular coed group, this was just for women. Going into the bar was terrifying. I mean, I'm not social person. At a party or a business type meeting I'll pretty much just stand by a wall, by myself. I'd certainly never go up and talk to a stranger. So walking in the bar where the meetup was to happen, my first instinct was to chicken out. Yes, indeed. Just go up to the bar, have a drink by myself, pretend I'm totally not here to meet random strangers and then go home!

What am I worried about? I'm worried that people will find me ridiculous and then ridicule me because of it. I worry that people will think I'm a fraud or a weirdo or a big loser. I fear that I won't be accepted, that I can't do a good enough female voice, that people will exclude me from the group because I don't belong. Because I'm fake and not a real girl.

Sigh.

The nice thing is that, after going to 6 or 7 meetups, I haven't chickened out thus far. And as far as I can tell people have been super nice (though maybe they talk about me behind my back - you know how girls are).

My first meetup worked out fairly well and everyone was super friendly and accepting. The group organizers were even like "Oh, please be sure and come to our next meetup!" And I totally did and had a great time at them. People sent me the "Nice to see you at the meetup" emails you can send. people who I'd talked with at previous happy hours seemed happy to see me. Actually I went to a few with the group and the organizers actually used one of my ideas (Cobble Hill Pub Crawl) for the Halloween meetup.

Now having never been able to do Halloween as a girl, I had come up with a cool costume idea; my black lace dress, some black tights, and cat ears and a tail! Then I'd paint a little nose and whiskers on with eyeliner! Cute, right? I know. So I was looking forward to this.

Still time to cat up for this year!

One particular night, however, just left me seething. Even though I know I shouldn't have taken it so harshly, I did. Now, I know I passed at least with some of the people in the group. And we're talking maybe 15 or so people. So, we're all out, fifteen of us girls, at this bar in Brooklyn and we're getting a little inebriated, as people do. Earlier I had been talking with another girl, a blonde girl in her late thirties, who lives in the neighborhood Then later, with the booze flowing, someone asks her if she lives nearby the bar. This girl was partying, a little intoxicated, and said excitedly, "Oh yeah, I do!" then she points at me and ads "So does he...so does she."

She was nice. She was cool. She was drunk and not thinking about what she was saying. She let it slip. She immediately corrected herself. I don't think she was being mean at all. She slipped up.

But there I sat, next to her at the table, just seething as soon as I heard the H word. I wanted to shout at her "Don't call me he! Don't ever call me he! Female pronouns! All the female pronouns in the world!" Of course yelling that would have made me crazy, so I just sat there and seethed, my whole body tense, my mind unable to focus on anything else.

She was nice. She was cool. But she knew that I did not come into this world with two X chromosomes. She knew I was a faker. I was faking it. Despite the time and effort I had put into looking female, despite the courage it took to come out and present myself to the world, and to new friends, as a woman, she saw through me. And I hated that.

But, you know what? Even though she saw through me, she talked to me, hung out with me, had drinks with me and was just friendly and warm to me. She never gave me shit, never judged me, was willing to share my company. And yet, it ate away at me that she misgendered me.

I ended up not going to the Halloween meetup that I had helped plan. There were myriad reasons, including that it was raining, that going would have left my partner with nothing to do, But I never went back to the group after that. Maybe one day I will.

Another group I only went to once. When I walked into the bar (yeah these are all at bars - drinking is what we do in Brooklyn), I was so scared, so I decided to have a drink by myself at the bar first, just to build up my courage. I looked over at the girls who were there for the meetup. They were so petite and feminine and pretty and I felt like I wasn't all all. Eventually I did screw up my courage and go over and had an okay time. People were friendly, but I didn't really connect with anyone in a major way.

Then after that I saw that someone had launched a meetup group specifically for my neighborhood and so I figured I had to check it out. But, before I did, I actually outed myself to the group organizer.While I'm always so concerned about passing, I also worry about invading female spaces. Like, they set up this meetup group for all women and nothing I can do can erase my Y chromosome or change how I was born. Even there were never any issues with a trans girl at the other meetups, I just wanted to be sure.

Here's our emails:

Hey Melanie,
So I'm trying to find some new girl friends in the neighborhood and wanted to come to have a pint at this new meetup and get to know everyone. But, before I showed up, I just wanted to make sure that you would be a okay with a transgender woman in your meetup group. Please let me know. I'd love to meet some cool new people in the area.
Best,
Faith

Hey Faith,  Of course! Everyone in our group has been super smart and welcoming so far, and I'm sure that you'll fit right in.  Hope to meet you soon! 

Now I sort of feel bad about outing myself, but ah well. I've been to two meetups with the group and everyone is super duper great. Hopefully I can make some new friends that'll stick this time!

Of course...every time I still dread going out to meet strangers, though I do manage to overcome my fears. And often times after meetups I still get down on myself. Sometimes my thoughts just rot in my core the days after. Who the hell do I think I'm fooling? They also must have thought I was an idiot. An ugly giant man in a dress and wig trying to invade a female space.

It's tough. People accepting me. It's true. But I still struggle to accept myself. Every single day it's a struggle. But, I'm going again to more meetups and we'll see how it goes. I loving finding new people who have only ever known me as a woman and I hope I can find some real friends. Maybe I shouldn't worry. Maybe I shouldn't be afraid. Maybe I'm not invading a female space. Maybe I'm being welcomed in. Maybe I should be happy about that.


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