Thursday, August 27, 2009

Feeling a Little Better

After my post of this morning, I needed to hear a friendly voice. I called my friend De, and she was nice enough to come over to my place to hang out and chat. I love this blog and all of the friends I have made here, but it's always nice to talk to someone in person. The hug before she left was great, too.

On a lighter note, when I returned home this morning, Nate informed me that I wouldn't believe what he found in the bathroom. I went in expecting to find an exotic bug or other alien life form, but what I did find beggars my senses.

Growing up through the caulk around the edge of the tub. WTF?

How It Is, Part II

When I rolled into work Tuesday night, I tore the office apart looking for my write-up, to no avail. The GM was out of the office all day yesterday, so I couldn't see it until this morning. I now have a copy of the document, and I am angry. I pulled out my copy of the new Employee Handbook, and it details a "Progressive Discipline Program". I won't reprint the whole thing here, but it basically outlines a progressive, positive system for identifying and correcting problems.


Issuing a written warning is a serious action taken by the manager only when a previous discussion (commitment to correct) had not been effective or due to the severity of the inappropriate behavior. An employee can be terminated under progressive discipline if he/she has two written warnings and a third one happens within a twelve month period... Hourly employees will be dismissed after 3 written warnings if the disciplinary action is not a critical item.
Okay, then. The "commitment to correct" is a situation where the employee is given a verbal warning, and advised on how to correct the situation before it escalates to a written warning. I have never been given a verbal warning, as such.

The write-up was hand-written onto a pre-printed "Second Warning Notice", but the word "Second" was marked through with a pen and replaced with the word "Final". The Violation is marked Other, with the comment, "Improper dress". Under Action Taken, it reads, "Earrings in both Ears". In the Additional Remarks section it reads, "2nd Warning Jason has been informed this is not allowed and signed the handbook." Underneath is a reiteration of the "final warning" and the notice that "further violations may lead to immediate dismissal without further notice".

To wit, the Employee Handbook does, in fact, say that "For males earrings are not allowed." I asked about this the afternoon the handbooks were handed out. There were a lot of questions that afternoon, because there's a stipulation that female employees can not wear large earrings, and one that specifies no visible tattoos, and another that stipulates that hair must be a color "that is natural to your ethnicity". Examples of all of these were present at the meeting, and we were told by the VP of Operations, that such things would be "grandfathered in" implying that anyone already working there was exempt from such provisions. I asked my supervisor, the front office manager, and she told me not to worry.

There's nothing in the handbook about nail polish, save for the line that "nails should be in a neutral color".

I'm not an attorney, but it seems like I'm being sold something here. I've been called on the carpet for a violation of the Employee Handbook, but it seems like the procedure from said handbook isn't being followed. If I'm reading it right, the correct procedure would have been for the manager to pull me aside and tell me to stop wearing my earrings to work. I wouldn't have liked it, but I would have done it. No written warning necessary. No second or final warnings necessary. Instead, my reading of the handbook is counted as my verbal AND first written warning, and the rest proceeds from there.

I've been doing some reading since Tuesday. LLLLL was nice enough to point out to me the NCTE site, and I had a read through some of their resources. I asked previously about transitioning on the job, and the GM told me that I can't change the way I dress if my ID has a male name on it. It seems that I can't change my ID until I legally change my name and begin living and working 24/7. I think I've been flying solo on this ride too long. I need to knuckle down and find a doctor to talk to, and never mind the expense. I'm already in hock up to my eyeballs, so what's another debt?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

So That's How It Is

Back in July, I wrote that I had had "the discussion" with my boss about being transgendered. I did not have high hopes, but at least I had all of my issues on the table, and I felt like she (my manager) had my back. This morning I discovered that this is no longer the case.

Last night, I got a message from the woman I relieved that the GM wanted to meet with me about something. The message said that she needed to talk to me about something, and I was not to leave before we talked. I could not imagine what she wanted from me, so naturally I began to fear the worst. There have been a lot of terminations lately. I wrote about my write-up of a few weeks ago, and I thought that perhaps the pendulum had swung in my direction. Whatever it was, there wasn't anything I could do about it, so I took a deep breath and resolved to get through my shift. I did everything by the book last night, so they couldn't say that I wasn't doing my job.

At the end of shift, my manager was fifteen minutes early. This is notable, because her message to me said that she would be running late. She gave me no inkling of what she wanted to talk about. When my relief arrived, I went back to her office, and this is what I learned.

The hotel received what she said was a very serious complaint against me. A guest wrote in to complain that she was put into the awkward position of trying to explain to her seven year-old daughter why a man was wearing "pink" nail polish and stud earrings. She asked me if I was wearing pink nail polish. I held up my hand, back out, so she could see my manicure. The color I chose last week is sort of an iridescent clear, with a slight pink tone. I have worn it before. I have worn other sheer colors many times. I always get compliments, usually from women, about the appearance of my nails. Never has anyone said anything negative.

The GM held up a copy of the latest employee handbook, and told me the incident was being written up as a dress code violation. She told me that I can no longer wear nail polish to work, nor my earrings. I've only ever worn neutral, usually sheer colors, and she said that did not exempt me. She went on to say that she remembered our discussion, but as long as my identification says I am male, that is the "unambiguous" image I must present. The incident was written up as a "final warning", because I was advised of the new policy at a staff meeting six weeks or so ago. That final warning means that if the issue arises again, I can be terminated "for cause". Due to Virginia's employment laws, if that happens, I can't file for unemployment. If I end up out of work, if I can't immediately find other employment, I'll be up the creek.

I'm sitting here in front of the computer with a bottle of polish remover and a pack of cotton pads. I've got to remove this polish now, while I'm thinking about it, or else I might forget. Remember how happy I was that I got to go to the salon last week and get a manicure at last? I'm sitting here, not crying, but that's how I feel. I wish I could afford to not go back to work. In the space of that five-minute meeting, my work environment turned hostile. I love the work, but I don't know how much longer I can work there, or that I want to. What can I do?

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Writing Assignment #2

Speaking of things up in the air, I've been meaning to put up the second of my "writing assignments", furnished by the participants in my first "contest". If and when I get 'round to having another one, I promise to make the questions a little less obscure. I'll try to, anyway.

Chrissie gave me this:

Dreams of Flight

For as long as I can remember, I've been obsessed with flight. I've spent a goodly chunk of my life gazing into the sky, at whatever was cruising above my head. It started with birds, but grew into flying machines. One of my oldest vivid memories is from when I was 7. My parents had just gotten involved with the local Little League machine, and I found my uncoordinated self on a tee-ball team. I wasn't really interested in sports then, no more than I am now, and I found myself consigned to the distant outfield, where no one ever hit a ball.

I was at a practice, way way out in right field, and I remember that the world filled with sound. There was an ominous roar, and four F-14 Tomcats (in a diamond formation) cruised low over the ball field and disappeared over the horizon. Looked sort of like this:

Except that they were lower. Almost tree-top height. I'm almost sorry to say that I lost all interest in baseball at that moment. I've been obsessed with flying things ever since.

For all my interest, I didn't ever get an opportunity to fly until I was 33. Neither of my parents liked to fly. Dad would do it for work, but Mom wouldn't get into an airplane for money. None of the numerous long-distance trips we took when I was a child were by air. We always drove, even if the destination was New York or Ohio.

I've only been up three times. Two of those were commercial flights, up to Dulles, VA from Charlotte, NC and back. Taking off was the best part, feeling the tug of gravity as the plane climbed, followed by the gentle release as the plane clawed its way into the sky. The flying itself was almost exactly like riding a bus, down to the bumps of turbulence as we passed through a thunderstorm on the way back to CLT.

The third and so far last flight was a recreational hop in a vintage warbird. I think I've mentioned here before that I volunteered at the Carolinas Aviation Museum in Charlotte. Four years ago, a friend loaned me the money to pay for a 45-minute ride in an OV-1 Mohawk, a Vietnam War-era Army observation plane. It looks like a big grey bug. THAT was flying. The Mohawk is no bus. Plus, we got to formate with a restored B-17 Flying Fortress, and I got my first ever air-to-air photos. It was a lot of fun for an airplane geek like me.

Anyway, how all this ties into my being transgendered is the feeling of being trapped in my own skin. Who wouldn't want to fly away from all this?

I did have an actual dream involving flight this week. I very rarely remember my dreams anymore, so this was noteworthy. I dreamed I was riding in the back of a little pickup truck. I say it was little, because my feet were dangling out over the open tailgate. I was riding along a road, when suddenly the truck flew up into the air. Next we're flying over a winding river, with sparse woods on either side, dotted with what looked like junk or repair yards on either side. Every so often, I would see the tail of an airplane poking up out of the trees. After a few minutes of this, I woke up.

Don't ask me what it means.

Changes Coming

Nate (my brother/roommate, for anyone just coming in) presented me with a prospect for the future a couple of days ago. Last week his sons (my nephews) returned to Florida with their mother after visiting for most of the summer. They came up at the end of May, and were only supposed to be with us for about six weeks. While they were here, their mother had some unexpected surgery, and asked us to watch them for another month or so. Since they moved to Florida, Nate's only seen them a few times, usually for a week, so he did not have a problem with that. They were here a total of eleven weeks, almost, and having them here became routine, normal. Nate got used to being a father again, and it hurt almost as much as it felt good, because he knew they'd be leaving again, and they won't be back until Thanksgiving.

After they left, Nate talked to his ex for a good bit, and she has started looking at inexpensive rental properties in their part of Florida. Nate's talking about moving south to be closer to the boys. Whatever happens, he's going to Florida. My own situation is what's up in the air right now. Should I move with him? Should I stay here? If I stay, I definitely won't be keeping this place. It's too much apartment for one person, and not really economical for two, unless both are making beaucoup money. On the one hand, Florida would be a nice place to make another attempt at a clean start. They have a HUGE hotel market, so it's not like work would be a problem, not with my resume. On the other hand, they don't offer anymore protection for trans workers in Florida than Virginia does. I'd be better off moving out West (NV, CA) or up North (ME, NY) than running further south. Plus, I've spent the last two years here trying to build a life, and I've got friends and activities and stuff. The internet is great for maintaining friendships and acquaintances long distance, but I'm not looking forward to starting all over again, again.

Nate hasn't completely made up his mind, and won't decide until late September or early October. That gives us some time to plan.

Cured at Last!

Manicured and pedicured, that is. Unfortunately, I got a nail tech who had never done me before, and she cut off all my fingernails. I asked her to trim them. She countered with, "You want short and round, yes?" I told her no, but by the time she realized what I wanted, it was too late. She cut them so that they're barely longer than my fingertips. She did a great job on my toes, though. I had her do my fingers in OPI Who Needs a Prince, and my toes in OPI Plugged-In Plum, which is an electric purple. I feel a little more like myself again.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Another Week Goes By

I'm still here.

I was away for a couple of days, and I return to find that I have still more followers. I must continue to crank out quality material, if I want to keep them.

There isn't much going on here at the moment. The truck is still running, if reluctantly. Work has calmed down a bit (I got a raise!). Nate and I put our heads together about paying rent and our other bills. I just got our gas, electric and satellite caught up, and I still have some money left to play with. I don't know whether I want to treat myself to the long-denied mani/pedi or try to find myself some new clothes. I want the pampering, but they've got some cool sales at Dots...

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Writing Assignment #1

I promised the respondents to my "contest" posts that I'd write something on whatever topics they chose. I've had the first topic for about a week, and I must confess that I'm somewhat stumped.

Caroline wrote to me:

Lets be predictable and combine two subjects which interest us:-

"The Movies which got Transgender right"

I must confess: I haven't seen a lot of movies that get us. There haven't been a lot of mainstream movies that talk frankly about us, and too often TG characters are victims of hate crimes or serve at the butt of jokes.

I've heard a lot about Transamerica, starring Felicity Huffman, but I heard lots of negative reviews from assorted trans friends, so I refuse to watch it. I might have to break down and give it a look, just in case I'm wrong.

There's Boys Don't Cry,

(I am currently experiencing difficulties with my Italics button)

the story of Brandon Teena. I'm MTF, not the other way around, but I found it to be very real. Gut-wrenchingly so.

I've only seen a few other movies that depict trans characters in a believable fashion. The oldest one would be The World According to Garp, which isn't about a trans person, but one figures big in the story. Roberta Muldoon, played by John Lithgow, was the first transwoman I remember seeing in a film. I enjoyed the novel more than the film, but I saw the movie when I was ten, but read the book when I was twenty.

Another grim one I've seen is Princesa

The title character is Fernanda, a trans teenager who travels from Brazil to Italy to work as a prostitute in order to finance her SRS. She has some rough experiences, but she finds a sugar daddy. I don't want to give away the ending, but it's not a happy story.

One light-hearted movie I've seen is Different for Girls

Back in the 70s, the two characters were best friends in school. Flash forward to the 90s, and one of them has transitioned and is trying to build a new life for herself. She finds herself falling for her old friend, but things don't always work out the way we hope they do.

That's all I've got for now. I apologize if it seems half-arsed, but I confess to feeling underprepared for this one. If anyone could suggest some decent trans-themed films to watch, I'll be happy to Netflix 'em and post my thoughts.

oming soon: Assignment #2, from Chrissie, "Dreams of Flight".

Has It Really Been a Week?

Not being to access Blogger from work is killing me. I can't write. I can read other people's blogs, but only if I pull them up by name, or by typing the URLs. I can't comment or anything. I have to compete with Nate for time on the laptop, because technically it is his property.

What a week it was, too. I'm still having trouble with the truck. It's old, a 1990. It's been rear-ended, front-ended, T-boned, shot, and driven over 143,000 miles of bad road. I talked to Nate yesterday about visiting one of those "Your job is your credit" dealerships to see about getting a newer used car. Now that we're both working again, and he's got a shot at being picked up full-time, maybe we can get something. We're not looking for anything fancy. A Saturn, or an older Focus; we'd like something in the 30mpg range.

On top of my vehicular troubles, work has taken a turn for the strange. I got written up for something that didn't happen at all the way it's described in the write-up. I was told that if a similar situation occurs in the future, I'll be terminated for cause. The GM's wrath has not been limited to me. There are angry memos posted in every staff space: the front office, the staff break area, the kitchen, laundry room. Every free space has a tirade devoted to whatever department it's posted in. Our manager has been harsh since she arrived. She warned us that she would be stern, but fair. In the last few weeks, fair has taken a holiday.

I got a call from a friend, and in the course of conversation I realized that I haven't been out en femme since May. There hasn't been any further discussion regarding my transition, and in the current climate, I'm not sure I should discuss it. I find myself regretting that I told the GM that transgendered employees aren't covered by current EEOC guidelines.