Chris Interview #4, August 2016

“I had a good summer; there have been a lot of changes. I’ve been spending a lot of time with my girlfriend and her family, trying to be more connected with them, especially before we leave. I quit the job I had been working at in the city. The commute was too expensive, I wasn’t making enough, and I wasn’t saving any money for the trip. Now I am working in Linden, building a scaffold in an oil refinery. It’s my second year as an apprentice so my rate got bumped up. I am not commuting as much, so its good right now.

My voice is still getting deeper, but not such a big change as I noticed at seven months. It helps that I am working around a lot of guys; I am very conscious of the way I am speaking, so I try to say things at a lower register than I would at home.

My strength is really growing. It’s crazy! Especially since I am working at my new job, and I am working with a lot heavier materials. I only started working there three weeks ago and I can already see big differences in my arms and chest muscles. The job is pretty tough but seeing the changes helps me get through it. I have a lot more hair on my body, especially on the back of my hands. There is a little more hair on my back--I see little hairs starting to sprout out, so its like oh my gosh! And I haven’t even started getting my beard hairs in, so I feel like I will eventually get really hairy. That’s a big change.

I feel more at home in my body. Emotionally I am feeling pretty much the same as what I’ve said before. I get a little more irritated but I am also able to control my emotions better. I think I am more level than I used to be, more at peace, happier. I feel like I am less overwhelmed with things. Before I had to deal with knowing I was trans but not being out yet, not passing and dealing with everything else too. So now that I am passing as the gender I want to be viewed as, I feel more comfortable. I feel more confident when I ‘m talking to people now because they listen to me more—because I’m a guy. I think a lot of it has to do with men being dominant.

Do I feel completely comfortable with my new identity? Not completely. I don’t know if I will ever be like 100% happy about everything, because there are things I don’t like about being perceived as a man. For example, regarding the interactions I have with other men, or even people in general, I feel like I get treated differently. Sometimes it’s better than I was treated before, but that’s what I don’t like about it. And the things I hear that the men at the construction site say about women, god, that’s crazy. I think that’s the worst part, hearing all the crap they talk. I don’t even know where to start. A lot of them talk about their wives, how they hate them, and a lot of them are getting divorced now. They are always talking about sex and dirty things. I think they are just putting it on with each other.

They tease me a lot because I look younger than I am. I don’t have much facial hair. Sometimes I will speak up. The other day my foreman was hitting on this girl on the job site. She wasn’t going for it and kind of backed away from him, so he said, ‘She’s probably gay.’ I said, ‘just because she’s not responding to your advances, she’s gay now?’ He said, ‘I’m older than you, I’ve been through a lot more.’ I said ‘I’m sure you have.’ Sometimes I feel like a spy!

People at work totally accept that I am a man. Even at my old job, where I came out, everyone accepted me as a guy. I never had to worry about anything. I told my boss and he was accepting and I guess he told others, but no one gave me trouble.

One of the apprentices that I went to school with is working where I am now. We sit next to each other all the time. I think he knows who I am from school before I came out, but he hasn’t said anything and he uses he/him pronouns for me. Actually, when I first started at this job I had to give them an old card from school saying I was certified, and it had my old name on it (Christina). I had to show it to two of the higher-ups. So they saw that, and I don’t think one of them caught on about it, but the other one, who was talking to me and training me, said ‘she’ and then immediately said ‘he.’ I thought it was funny that he knew but accepted it quickly.

Have I had any experiences that made me fearful? Yeah, I’m pretty fearful, because there is still a high murder rate for trans people in this country, and all over the world, but also if I am outed in the wrong situation I would be scared. For the most part I have people around me that are supportive, both those who know that I am trans and those who don’t. I am afraid that I will go to the bathroom one day and I will be outed. Even before I came out I would go into the men’s room if the women’s room was too crowded. I would just keep my head down. Now I don’t need to keep my head down!

Being transgender is part of me but I don’t feel like it’s such a big part of me. When I was coming out several years ago as a lesbian, I felt like that was my identity, and I was so proud of it, and I was telling everyone, but now coming out as trans I have already been through all that, so I don’t feel that being trans is my major identity. I sometimes forget and don’t even think about it at all, but at other times I am very much thinking about it.

I will probably reach the limit of change in about three years. But I have watched videos of other people on YouTube who have gone through the same transitions I am going through, and they say they still notice little changes here and there, even after they think there won’t be any more.

I usually dream that I am a man but sometimes a woman too, but before I realized I was trans I used to dream that I was both genders also. Its funny, that’s how I feel. I don’t feel completely one gender or the other. I gravitate more toward masculine energy, but I feel like I fall in between.

I want to explore and travel a lot. I don’t want to settle down right away. But in the future I do want to get married. My girlfriend and I just bought a bus, an RV, and we are going to renovate it and live in it full time. I want to be a carpenter for a while, but eventually I may want to do architecture, because I don’t want to stay in a field with the kind of men that I work with now. It’s draining. The work isn’t draining; the men are draining. They are not very tolerant and that’s hard because I am a very tolerant person. You know what, it was kind of shocking when I first started working as a guy in carpentry. I knew what was going on and there were these kind of problems in society, but it was still kind of shocking to experience it.”