Tina K. Russell

July 26, 2008

Back-Seat Thriving

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Tina Russell @ 10:44 pm

Thriving on Vague Objectives(Those of you just tuning in: I’m transsexual. Riftgirl here is transsexual. By writing about her post, I hereby violate the “two tranny rule.” Onward…)

Since transitioning from male-to-female nearly six years ago, I’ve learned that much of what may be considered implausible has more to do with mindsets than actual limitations. For the most part, my current everyday reality far surpasses any of the fantasies I harbored while eyes glued to the television during my pre-teens. I’ve established a successful career, have a number of friends that I hold near and dear, and family relations are at long last solid. (What can I say? My nieces and nephews think I’m cool.) Sure, my ongoing search for a significant other — or even insignificant at times — continues. But that’s certainly not unique for a transgender individual — at least not according to the Saturday night recaps shared by non-trans gal pals over Sunday brunch.

So, all in all, I suppose you’d say I’m a success. But that term disturbs me — success. When it comes tumbling out from somebody’s mouth and rolling towards me, I tend to question the criteria used in making the determination. Particularly when a guy I’m dating says it. Does he think so because through it all I’ve managed to hold my life together and still retain an outlook that’s decidedly half-full? Or does he believe the compliment is merited solely based on any semblance I might bear to the cover of this month’s Maxim — despite my genetic circumstance?

Yeah, I know people like that mean well, but it always bothers me when people compliment me simply not for making a mess of my life. Have I made any accomplishments besides merely breaking even?

Just to make sure nobody gets mad at me in the comments, yes, simply not making a mess of one’s life is often difficult for anyone. I’m just not sure you understand how condescending it is to be praised for a bare minimum. It’s happened to me many times before.

Once, a social worker complimented me for “thriving.” He had seen me twice in five years–I’m disturbingly recognizable–and this was the first time he communicated with me. He was basing his assessment on the fact that I had grown up to be someone who was smiling and talking with friends. Oh, wow! I have friends. And a working mouth.

I don’t want to dump on people for trying to make me feel good about myself, but damn, please try not to say (in essence) “congratulations! You’ve made it to the place that everyone else starts from.” Maybe, in five years, I’ll complement you on how well you’ve recovered from my punch to your mouth.


I tried to find a reference for the “two tranny rule,” a situation in which a trans woman is afraid to be near another of her ilk due to fear that it makes her twice as likely to be read as transsexual. (Y’know, two Adam’s apples, and people start to wonder… I do find my big hands pretty sexy, though.) The whole concept, when I heard about it, I thought was funny and it makes me giggle a bit, thinking about it when next to one of my trans friends in public (a freewheeling thought of “Whooo! I’m breaking the two tranny rule!”).

To my shame, my Google powers failed me and I could not find wherever it was that I read about the concept. I did find this gem, though: a Yahoo Answers post asking the immortal question:

In a democracy, how can we best protect against the tranny of the majority?

That’s right, fools! Look out! I am the tranny of the majority! Fear me!

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