The other night I was hanging out with one of my friends at a local bar. We were having a great time and entertaining everyone around us with our effervescent personalities. At one point a moderately handsome gentleman engaged me in conversation. I drunkenly tried to present a point about some political subject. I was doing it very poorly and quite honestly without really knowing what the hell I was saying. He bore with me through the topic.
He was fascinated by me, despite my completely ludicrous argument. We spoke and he got a little friendly. Not in an uncomfortable friendly sort of way, but a respectful friendly. He asked me questions, and at one point said something like, “Don’t be offended if I go off and speak to a real woman.” I actually think it was a little less direct and mean when he actually said it, but that’s not the point. After we parted ways, I didn’t feel like it was so bad. It was only later when I was milling on the encounter in my intoxication that it really hit me. “Hey, that was kind of offensive.”
What I’m mostly feeling now about this and many other experiences is just plain exhaustion. I’m so tired of it being a “thing”. Why is it such a “thing”? Why can’t I JUST be a woman at a bar?
Don’t get me wrong, I’m well aware of the differences and idiosyncrasies that being me poses. In fact, it’s quite impossible for me to forget. But if I should start to lose sight of it, someone else will inevitably remind me.
So, this gentleman knew that I was trans and found himself attracted to me. He didn’t seem to be ashamed about it around his friends, but he had to let me know that even though he’s fine with a burger, if he gets offered a steak he’s going for that. Yes, I did bring it down to a meat metaphor and I’m not ashamed about it.
Before that, it was a nice and interesting (drunken) conversation with a guy. I was pleased that there wasn’t sexual overtone nor was he all about me being a, pardon the horrible term, “shemale” because it so often is. Afterward, I was just frustrated that someone felt like they had to prove to me and assert their heterosexuality, or even point out my perceived inadequacies. Although, jarring, this is not the only occasion and probably won’t be the last.
I work a day job to supplement my growing entertainment career. So, I come into contact with tons of people from so many walks of life. I was serving a table with a lesbian woman, her partner, and her parents who were a delightful group to wait on. I cracked my normal waitress jokes like responding to a question about a salad with, “I didn’t get this sexy from eating salad, but it’s a great salad.” They laughed, I served, it’s what I do.
Whilst working at an event and pushing my wares I came into contact with this woman whom I’d served a few days before. She came up to me with the biggest smile on her face. “Oh, you served me the other day. We loved you. You made my dad so uncomfortable, it was awesome. It was so good for him.” I responded with something along the lines of “Oh, well isn’t that nice,” or the like, but wow! How do people say things like that? All I did was wait on them, made jokes to them and gave them impeccable service. How did that make your dad uncomfortable?
Look, I get it. Sometimes it’s hard for people to wrap their heads around the whole gender thing, but I’m totally approachable. On top of it, I was doing what any other woman in this job would do, maybe a little better. Why would that be so discomforting? How does it become a “thing”?
I “blend in” a lot better than most women like myself. I know I do and I feel so incredibly blessed to be who I am, but WTF? Why would you say things like that to someone? She later came and said to me that she hadn’t meant to offend me and I dismissed it saying “Oh no, not at all” but it did. It did offend me.
I am here to make people laugh. I’m here to entertain people. I’m here to educate people, but sometimes it’s hard as hell to take some of these questions and comments. People open their mouths and all of this shit comes out. It’s their shit, but it becomes mine when they impose their issues upon me. I assume the self-deprecating maternal figure with “Oh, no’s” and “It’s okays,” but it’s really not. It becomes my job to make you feel more comfortable with your issues. Well, I get freakin’ tired of it sometimes.
I still have hope that I will meet the man of my dreams. The one I’ve dreamed about since I was a child. The man who is the perfect paternal archetype. Just enough rugged and kind. A man who is as strong as he is compassionate, as loving as he is firm. The man who will fall in love with me for the woman I am. Who will respect me for the journey that I’ve gone through (not because of it) and love me because of the internal fortitude that it takes to traverse the rough terrain. Who is not threatened by my work but revels in the fact that I accomplish the things I do. A man who is proud of me just because I’m me. It’s what most heterosexual women want.
While I wait, I will contend with the unwitting remarks and take the jabs as gracefully as I am able. I will not let the world tell me that I can’t do what I want and be who I want just because I am transgender. I will know that I am not relegated to a future that I’m given but one that I’ve created. I will know that every act I make will impact the world making it a better place for those who come after me.
Dina Nina Martinez is a Stand Up Comic, Podcast Personality and writer. As a transgender woman, Dina offers a unique perspective on topics such as feminism, politics and LGBTQ Issues.