Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Roles Model

To stretch reality, I live two lives.  I phrased it like that because it's not really two lives ~ maybe it's two sides of my life, maybe it's just whichever way I present with different people...  I bet many people show a different side of themselves at work, with friends, alone with their spouse, for instance.  One may show different sides of himself playing golf with his buddies or dining with his minister.

But those "two lives" cause me to live three roles.  I often have to think about who I'm with before I say (or don't say) something.  I've mentioned "don't ask, can't tell" (my male self among civilians) in several posts ~ I often can't talk about what I've done as Meg among people who know my day-to-day self.  I was discussing games with my manager (he's a Diplomacy fan) and I mentioned playing Cards Against Humanity last week at the civilian game night.

I might have said to t-friends, "there were three girls and one guy at the table and on at least one occasion I said 'I really don't want to read this card!' because it was kind of on the raunchy side," suggesting I was embarrassed, as a woman, to read it in front of a guy I just met.

I told my manager about this, but said "I was playing with two women and one guy and on at least one occasion I said 'I really don't want to read this card!' because it was kind of on the raunchy side," suggesting I was embarrassed, to read that in front of two women.

But there's also my "Meg among civilians" role.  I was talking with another Jewish player and started furiously thinking about my "back story" while we were talking.  If he asked about my bat mitzvah, what would I say?  I think if the roles were reversed, I'd avoid that, to avoid hearing a fable.  But I was trying to remember what the state of bat mitzvah was when I was 13, in my denomination.  I remembered that it was allowed, but more discouraged than required.  I could safely say that I wasn't bat mitzvahed, but my brother, of course, was bar mitzvahed.  And I had to remember the proper bar (male) or bat (female) ritual name.

I try to be ready, but there's so much I'd have to invent that I prefer to keep my mouth shut and hope for the best.

And there's also my "Meg among Trans" role, where I'm free to tell "nothing but the truth" at all times.  But not the whole truth.  The quintessential Washington question ("what do you do?") gets a vague response.  So does "where do you work?" and fortunately, we all know to avoid questions that pry too deeply into the male persona.

I just realised there are two sub-roles.  Within the "Meg among Trans" there are differences for girls who've only met Meg and girls who know both of me.  And there's a "Meg among Civilians who know about Meg."

I like to tell the truth in part because it's the easiest path.  Generally, when I can't (shouldn't) tell the truth, I try to change the subject or say nothing.  But the roles remain.

Hmmm....  I may start mixing in "roles" examples with Wednesday's "simple pleasures."


  1. Meg -

    Telling the truth when possible is the best thing you can do. But when you can't, it'll likely be among people you won't see again.

    But, if you have to say something that is gender specific.... Meg should have her own back story (which may be concocted on the fly) vs. your male back story. For example, your male persona may have been bar mitzvahed, but Meg may not have been bat mitzvahed. People who know you as both persona can be told the truth, people who know you as a male can be told the truth. But people who know you only as Meg can be told your bland back story - there won't be that many who will ask....


  2. Well isn't stretching reality what we do? I remember being taught that a good lie is based on the truth, not least because that way you always know what you said. Of course honesty should be the best policy, it's just that sometimes we need to be careful of pro-nouns, on other occasions I may have refer to my wife as my partner, or say "when I was young" rather than "when I was a boy". But you are right about playing different roles, it ay be interesting to investigate that a bit.

  3. Meg
    There are issues that we face when we are out and about starting with our alias. It is almost like we have a secret identity. I am just not sure whether the secret identity is our male or female presentation.
    I find that my male and female personalities are rather similar. I also do not fool myself into thinking that I actually pass so when I am out and about I present as a nicely dressed older larger lady with a male voice. Hanging out in a bar is not too different for me regardless of my presentation and as such I only need to be moderately cryptic in my discussions.

  4. Hi, Meg. When I was wrestling with this myself, the hardest part for me was when my circles started crashing together. Pre-transition, I was "out" while playing with a few local orchestras, and that caused some conundrums when my co-workers (who knew I played semi-professionally) asked about when my next concert was.

    My wife and I are friends with a trans couple (both of them are trans) and their kids are about the same age as ours. And their kids and our kids are now friends. But they're not out to their kids, so names and pronouns are very difficult to keep straight.

    My personal belief that it would have been impossible for me to keep my circles from crashing together was one of the many factors driving my (eventual) transition.

    "It's complicated."


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