To be “clocked” or “read”, in the transgender vernacular, means to have someone (general public) treat us as if we are our pre-transition gender. In my case that means someone addresses me as ‘Sir’ or refers to me as ‘he’ or ‘him’ or would treat me as a guy, etc. We start out fearing this and doing everything to avoid this ever happening. Some transsexuals will never pass (to pass is to be ‘automatically’ assumed to be the gender as which you are presenting). Others change remarkably and have no problems. Of course this is the hardest when we start our transition.
The local society and environment has a lot to do with this as well. This can range from open acceptance, to very dangerous – look at the recent hate crimes and murders of transgenders and transsexuals, especially out east and in Texas. In a couple cases, the police and rescue personal would not treat the transgender victims resulting in their death. I am lucky, Hawaii is very open and accepting and most likely is the reason it took over half a year before I experienced being clocked in public.
It happened today at the local wholesale buyers club. They have employees that hand out samples of different foods. One of them addressed me nicely with “Sir would you like to try…”. Well I looked at him – he seemed to be friendly – and asked if I wanted a sample, so I took one and said thanks. Then he offered to help if I needed to find something, saying he saw me looking around, but he again used ‘Sir’. Sort of bugged that he did it twice – not really sure if he was pulling something or making a point and I’m also upset that I didn’t correct him!
To be fair, I was dressed a bit more androgynous today. Usually I wear jeans with a tank top or straps sometimes with an open shirt over it. But today I wore jeans and a shirt, which did sort of hide my, ummm, assets ….
On our way out the lady checking the cart at the door made mention of a 2 broom/dust pan set we purchased saying “ah, his and her’s”, then quickly changed that to “inside and outside” which to me meant she ‘read’ me, accidentally made that innocent comment (would have been awkward but better if she stopped there and not ‘corrected’ her statement) but in correcting, it made me know for sure she clocked me and was trying to politely cover her tracks. I’ll give her high marks for trying. As my partner pointed out, she could very well have corrected her statement because she noticed we were a lesbian couple.
Now to be balanced, earlier today someone did call me “ma’am”.
Of course I had spent plenty of time thinking about how I would feel if I got ‘clocked’. I think that is just part of the process of transitioning. It is sort of amazing that I’ve gone almost six months before this happened.
Mentally I share the same philosophy as the ‘old hats’ (post-transition): this is my life, not theirs, what they think or say is their own issue. But when it happens – feelings are still hurt, it smarts. This had the effect of calling into question any and all of the progress of my transition so far (putting it in the classification of ‘probable progress’). Was everyone just being nice to me all this time? Was I really starting to be able to ‘pass’ as a woman?
Now, I’m not that naive that I think I’m passing everywhere I go. I know I’m a long way from being able to do that. I do think however, that I’m somewhere on the road to that. This is the first time being ‘clocked’ as well. One spends time and worry about being clocked and one also prepares themselves for it. I hear from the ‘old hats’ that even after 20 years some of them will get clocked occasionally.
And really, it does not matter – I am finally becoming the real me – becoming congruent. So this is expected and one is to be tough and to be true to ones self, etc, etc, etc. But – it still stings and hurts.
Why does this hurt, especially when one has confidence? Why do things like this force us to re-evaluate everything? It puts back into question everything we so painfully and carefully worked out before – again! And precisely ‘why’ does it matter? These are important and difficult questions.
We are social beings. As much as this is a personal voyage, it is tied up with others that surround me – known and unknown people and agents of society. As much as society effects each of us, we in turn ‘are’ society. It becomes difficult when we are outside societal norms, especially something as foundational as gender. It is both a “Why can’t they see?” and “What am I not doing right?”.
It matters to me precisely because there is both an internal and external component to living. I have come to profoundly understand who I am and transition is an extreme step to realize or actualize that. As much as this is an internal transition, it also is surrounded by society. I think we all have a need to be accepted – maybe just to affirm the real person – maybe just to be comfortable in our life.
Why can’t people just see who I am …..