My First Hand Experience With Hate
You hear stories of people being confronted by hateful people, because of their gender, sexuality or race. Reading and hearing about these occurrences always made me emotional; either angry or sad. However, luckily enough I had never experienced this myself, until now.
I don’t believe in making my life story about being transgender, it’s a part of who I am, but I try hard not to surround myself with this label. With that in mind, being transgender and having a job can be challenging. It’s probably one of the hardest parts of my transition because when you’re in work, you’re there for an 8-hour shift, there’s no running away from anything that can happen.
Usually, in my day to day life, I’m not misgendered, and I think I pass as male 100% of the time until I open my mouth and speak, but even then, very rarely am I not taken for a guy. In work this seems to differ, I don’t know if it’s the green ASDA uniform, or the fact I have to talk to every person I come across, but I am misgendered a lot – despite the name badge. Not in a massive way that I cannot recover from, the occasional man will call me love, sweetheart, something like that. In the beginning, I had to stop myself from turning bright red and crying, there have been a few times where admittedly, I’ve hidden in a toilet cubicle on my break to pull myself back together.
I can handle it better now, I tell myself that it’s them, not me. Work has been going pretty good, I use the urinals, I joke around with the guys I work with now and again, something I was always too nervous to do before. Last Sunday that changed.
It was a great day, I hadn’t been misgendered once, I couldn’t wait to get home to my girlfriend. I was feeling cocky confident, maybe that’s why I was knocked down so far. Working on the kiosk (the cigarette counter) has a fair share of interesting people, when a middle-aged woman with four kids came around, her grandchildren it seemed, I thought that she was one of these interesting people, but didn’t think anything of it.
I asked her if she wanted anything else, she said that I had a feminine voice, then looking at my name badge, declaring “it’s a boy,” while laughing hysterically. I felt like I was holding so much anger in, keeping it tight within my chest, biting my lip, I knew I couldn’t retaliate. So I just bluntly said hilarious, with no emotion in my voice. I could have said nothing, but just because I worked there didn’t mean she could talk to me like that, no one should talk to anyone like that. When she handed her money out I took it, not in my usual courteous manner I admit, she started shouting and swearing, saying she would report me to my manager, to which I bluntly replied okay. I handed her the change, robotically said to have a nice day. When she walked away I heard her shouting but didn’t register what she said, I turned to look at her and she spat…
“Maybe he is queer.”
I was so angry I didn’t know what to do with myself, I couldn’t even move, I just glared at her, I wasn’t going to break eye contact, if she wanted to say that then she could look at me when she was saying it. I was frustrated, I wanted to yell at her, an older guy who works in a different department told me she wasn’t worth it, to keep my cool. I don’t know what I would have done if he wasn’t there. When I’m that angry and I can’t let it out, I know I end up breaking down. I tried to keep serving customers, I just kept tearing up, I was bright red and angry, upset, I felt sick. The man must have told my manager, he came to let me pull myself together in the stock room. I kept thinking that I must look like an idiot, that men don’t cry, even though that’s ridiculous, I just couldn’t stop thinking it.
This post, I’m writing it so I can explain, to myself, if I don’t write it will spin round and round in my head every night like it’s been doing since Sunday. I was angry for myself when she laughed at me, she was a spiteful woman. But when she called me queer I was angry for everyone, which was a peculiar emotion for me, because I’ve never really considered myself in the ‘community’, I live stealth besides a handful of people knowing. I was angry that she spat out the word queer like it was a disease. I personally identify as straight, so her words did not affect my sexuality, I was just so frustrated that we live in a world that house people like her. Not to mention I was angry for those kids, how she could show that kind of hate in front of them, how if they ever questioned themselves they would have nowhere to turn. I felt like I could feel all the hurt I had read about, all the hatred people had faced, I was hurting for everyone.