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Up Town Girl 

Click here to listenI have to admit I am very lucky indeed. I live in a tolerant country. I am relatively rich. I live in a time where gender dysphoria is beginning to become accepted. I managed to start living as a woman without losing my job, my family, my home or my loved one. I have a health insurance that will pay for my sex change operation. In short: You can say I'm an 'Up Town Girl'! Count your blessings, Little Evelien!

In recent Gendertalk programs we have heard a lot about people who were not so lucky. In program number 495 Nancy made the very just remark that the difference between rich and poor classes is a struggle that may be even more fundamental than the struggle around gender. In program number 499 we heard a lot about homeless people and about homeless transgender folks in particular.

Listening to that program made me feel a bit like a spoiled child. Renting a studio here, turning down a great job offer there, while other people do not have such opportunities at all. I am glad there wasn't one of my columns in that program about the homeless, because that would have been very harsh.

Anyway, it has not made me decide to quit these columns altogether. I think there are issues every transgender person will meet in his or her life and it is always a good thing to exchange thoughts, experiences and feelings about those.

The more I explored my transgender feelings, the more it became clear to me that I wanted to live full-time as a woman. But living together with my spouse made transitioning difficult. Our relationship was in serious jeopardy! After living a few months by myself and after my Boston adventure I was living with Julia again and that became more and more difficult for the both of us. We were getting in each other's way and if nothing was done about this, we would probably end up in a divorce.

So we needed to live our lives separately, at least for a while. I needed to move out. This is one of those situations that is causing homelessness amongst transsexual people, but for an 'Up Town Girl' like me, the solution was to buy a house for myself. (There you have it again, most people don't have that option!) I couldn't afford anything fancy, I had to settle for a real 'Back Street House'. It was not in the best of neighborhoods, it was in a poor shape of maintenance and in the back yard garbage was stacked up three feet high. It would require an awful lot of hard labor to make it into an acceptable place to live in, but it was a house and it was mine!

Finally the stage was set. I had created the environment where my transition could take place. All I needed now was the courage to really make this happen. I will tell you more about that in my future columns.


Move to Massachusetts 

Click here to listenI was living by myself in a little studio in Rotterdam. I could only rent it for four months and that turned out to be far too short to work out all my gender problems.

But then I got a real 'once in a lifetime' opportunity: I was offered a job in Boston. We would be working on a very interesting project and we would also be building up a Boston branch of the company.

It sounded like a great chance to start a completely new life in a completely new environment. But would Boston be safe enough for an inexperienced transgender person? Unfortunately I didn't know Gendertalk yet, because in this case a question to Gendertalk would have been appropriate! I posted some entries in newsgroups to find out and soon I managed to start an email conversation with a Boston cross dresser.

Ze told me there was quite a nice trans community in the Boston area. I learned a lot about the differences between different states in the USA. And I learned that Massachusetts was one of the most liberal ones in gender issues. I started to get a real appetite for this job. I signed the contract and made arrangements with my new employer about the timing of my move to Boston. The plan was I would be starting my work in Holland in January and move to the USA in April.

But soon things started to go wrong. The first thing that went wrong were the presidential elections in the USA in 2000. I didn't expect the climate for transgendered people to improve with Mr. Bush in the White House.
Then the project we were going to work on was cancelled. So we would still be setting up a Boston office for the company, but without the guarantee of an abundance of interesting, well-paid work.

At the end of February 2001 I visited Boston to have a good look around, to meet my new colleagues and to have some meetings with a customer. I haven't tried to go outside in female clothing while I was in Boston. I didn't feel confident enough to do that. Instead I did experiment with some eye-catching androgynous outfits like a pink leather jacket with matching nail polish. I wasn't lynched, but I did get quite a lot of reactions. The two fifteen year old boys who helped me at the check-out counter at Market Basket had such a good laugh, they probably still remember me today!

Of course I also planned a rendez-vous with my email contact. We were to meet at Jacques' in Church street. Unfortunately we missed each other by a few minutes, but I did have the opportunity to talk with some nice people over there. So I got the impression there was indeed a lively transgender scene in Boston, but it was just a niche. Out on the streets the acceptance of gender-variant behavior appeared to be more difficult in Boston than it is in Holland.

And then the company decided to give up the idea of a Boston office altogether. Oh yes, I could still work for them, but that would have to be in California. Well I know almost all Americans want to live in California, but this was too big a step for me. If a company moves your workplace so easily by 5000 miles what will be next? Ohio? Pennsylvania? So I decided I didn't want this job any more. I wanted to stay safely in the Netherlands and that is what I did.

© 1985-2005 E.G. Snel

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