You Can Live a Happy Life Without “Their” Approval (but it’s nice when you get it)

(My riff as a transwoman in recovery on the PurposeFairy series 9 Reasons Why You Should No Longer Care About People’s Approval; all creative credit belongs to to that author.)

and THIS is how it can be

Every time I hit a Like Facebook button, I take a calculated risk.  I am saying to that person or page and indeed to a larger world that I approve of what I’m seeing, hearing and reading.  The converse – when somebody else approves of what I’ve said, they also share in a calculated risk.

I cannot live purely on the strength of another person’s approval. Approval itself is to0 nebulous, too fleeting. I need to be able to stand on my own when approval does not come. I need to realize that approval from those about me carries a price tag for that person which feels real even if it is not.

I also know that someone else’s approval has to be based on incomplete information. No other person can truly know what is in my mind or in my soul. She can approve of something I’ve said in which I was simply wrong. He can miss the truth of what I said because I did not communicate clearly and not approve.

All told, my personal self-worth, my happiness cannot depend on external approval. But that doesn’t mean it feels any less important or fulfilling when I do get it.

Within my goal in life to be authentic, I work to appear as a mostly normative middle-aged woman. I dress like a lot of other women, appropriate for where I am, whether in grocery store or church. I learn how to walk as other confident women I observe. I meet people’s eyes with an openness but not necessarily with a challenge. My name is Denise and I expect and request that others use it appropriately. In the process of this transition, my authenticity makes me happy and at the same time usually gives me some kind of tacit approval, some subtle validation from those around me.

I wish it always worked that way. Approval is nice when I get it. I’m grateful for the willingness to at least try to understand who I am. But when I don’t get it, I’m no less happy. I’m happy because I finally get who I am.

Love, Denise


A Level Playing Field

Every time I update or create a new job profile, I have one more reminder of just how good my skill set is. Years of experience working in online communities, advanced knowledge of software, especially Microsoft Office Suite and QuickBooks, developing and tracking projects – I don’t always appreciate or realize what I have accomplished until it is down in actual words.

So why is it that I don’t get e-mail or voicemail replies from recruiters? I work on improving my resume with the help of the Minnesota Workforce Center. I attend job fairs. I make sure that every asset I have is out in public view including my veterans status.

It starts to look to me sometimes like I don’t stand much chance not because I’m a woman but because I am a transgendered woman. And I have it better than some because I live in a state that includes gender identity as part of its labor nondiscrimination regulations, which is not to say that discrimination does not happen. In this economy any employer can find a reason to not hire me without spilling the beans of expressing a personal opinion about transgendered people.

I have just one basic message for prospective employers. My name is legally Denise; I am legally female in the state of Minnesota. I am a Vietnam era veteran who earned everything she has ever gotten. I have spent untold hours educating myself in the tools I need to do my job. I have excellent references from professional people who not only appreciate what I can contribute to the team but also appreciate my friendship without caring one whit about my gender identity.

If you do not hire me, if you do not return my calls or my e-mails, you will miss out on what could be a very profitable decision for your business. If you don’t call back because I am a transgendered woman, you are, as we used to say down on the farm, cutting off your nose to spite your face.

I have no interest in special treatment. I only expect with the law says I should expect including veterans preference when it is offered. I expect a level playing field just like any other woman. I expect to give full attention to my time that an employer purchases. If I can’t do the job, I will be the first to tell you. Fair enough?


Once in a Blue Moon

I have no idea where this summer has gone. Well, I have some idea, but the real problem is that I expected more – more time, more results, more progress. Not too long ago I wrote about being an historian. I still struggle with the desire to reach behind me and fix something. I always seem to have the same answer to the question – if you had it to do all over again, would you? In a New York minute.

August is a “blue moon” month. There will be two full moons, an event that happens every 2.66 years. Blue moons aren’t particularly rare like the return of Haley’s Comet, but they are uncommon enough to be significant. Could August be a personal blue moon month for me and maybe you?

Rather than look back and turn into a pillar of salt over something that I can’t just change, August could be that uncommon month. Here’s why:

  • For reasons I may never understand, God, my Higher Power, seems to step into my life at the 11th hour a lot this year. Too many things have happened that I did not anticipate. Will God do this again? Am I in the way?
  • Some things I cannot change, like how many decisions other people choose to make right this very moment which critically affect me. Life begins to look like the proverbial plate of spaghetti, but if I can’t find an end to unravel, maybe I’m not supposed to. I’m not real comfortable with that phenomenon by the way, but I have to admit it is a possibility.
  • Not everything is a problem. The summer is a definite mixed bag. I am acutely aware of the love and support of people around me more than ever, one more sign of a person in recovery. This week is my court date for my legal name change. I was asked yesterday if I would go in November to a summit for transgender religious leaders. I had my picture taken with Sen. Al Franken. The world is validating my identity at a record clip.
  • I have more job leads and networking connections than any time in the last nine months. I read someplace that the average unemployment period for somebody like myself is 10 months. I’m good with being average.

My blue moon month comes in a personal flavor. Your blue moon month is no different. Try making a list like mine. Don’t be satisfied with less than three entries; don’t stop until you have wrung out every last drop of possibility. Life isn’t about July; life is about August.

Love, Denise

Choices I Never Thought I’d Need to Make

I just ran into an “interesting” quandary.  I’ve been updating my LinkedIn profile, working hard to get this job search off top dead center, and now I need to decide how to handle recommendations that were written for my former male self.  All the recommendations are written with my male name and with male pronouns but my LinkedIn account is written for Denise. These are recommendations that I earned because I do a good job on time and that should have nothing to do with my transition to an authentic self.

I can see where a number of people have accessed my profile over the last few months.  How shall I account for my obvious name change?  Should I even try?  Should I return to previous clients/customers, some of whom don’t know of my transition and that I don’t really care to come out to, and ask them to either edit the original recommendation for name and pronoun or allow me to edit the original recommendation?  Is it ethical for me to just edit the recommendation myself for name and pronoun?  And just how much difference is this making in a prospective job environment where I’ve sensed some measure of de facto discrimination even when state law prohibits discrimination based on gender identity?

I never thought I’d need to deal with such questions.  I can’t think of anybody other than trans people who ever need to ask such questions.  Such is the terra incognita of life as a person outside the perceived gender binary.