I could also title this “Encounters: The Entire Effing University of Nevada–Reno”
I spent the national trans day of visibility mostly in a car, so that’s not doing all that much to be visible. I did, however, celebrate it rather loudly the day before.
The reason I’ve been a bit quiet this week is because I’ve been at a diversity conference this week in Reno. I knew it would be on the campus of the University of Nevada, but I didn’t realize just how big the campus was, nor that the conference would be in the middle of the student center.
Being away from my smaller town here, I decided, if there was ever a time to go femme for me, this would be it. And I did: a pink/grey/blue/black tunic, black faux-leather leggings, and my epic boots. I was there with three colleagues from the college whom I trust, so I thought going for it would be fine.
I also felt like I owed it to any students on that campus who might be trans and are afraid to stand out a little. I’ll stand out a lot instead to make it easier on them.
We got there, and it turned out there were additional colleagues of mine there, ones who don’t know I’m trans. Hmm. Oh, and 7 of the 13 regents for our higher education system, three college presidents, a number of VPs and deans, and several thousand other people in the building. With those boots on, I’m 6’7″. And pink.
The first challenge I hadn’t expected was walking down ramps and stairs. Walking up was a breeze. Down was a balance challenge. But it also seemed that I got the most compliments while walking down—I probably had two dozen people come up to me and say nice things over the course of the day. That made me feel great.
What didn’t make me feel great was figuring out where to go to the bathroom. I’m still not quite passing as female, between the height, the hair being a work in progress, and the fact that I haven’t started HRT yet. So I can’t go in there. But taking those boots into the mens room seemed right out as well. A colleague from another institution, one whose guidance I will be counting on going forward, was able to point me to a gender-neutral bathroom on the first floor. But we were on the fourth. Oh, and people have a habit of using that one as a changing room.
This meant I had to carefully budget my intake of fluids. I’m someone who normally drinks nearly a gallon of fluids per day—I’m still not entirely used to living in a desert, and I used to be on medication that gave me dry mouth, so it’s been an adjustment. Dry mouth was preferable.
I got to meet a couple of the regents, a dean at a school I was going to interview at (I had already accepted my current job, though), and a bunch of new friends. I also got some resources that will help me with hormones and whatever parts of my transition I need. So worth it.
I also have to thank my three knowing colleagues, as their support and understanding—and even just companionship—during the day made my life a whole lot easier. This shit is scary on your own.
My plan going forward, as I work on transitioning, is to be a resource in my own community. We have so few in this town, and I’m privileged enough socioeconomically and in job security, that I have to do my part. Answer questions. Stand out. Make some room for others to thrive.
That’s what people did for me on Thursday.