Jennifer Simmons

by Jennifer Simmons

How dare him! Not only do I know what a pipe wrench looks like, I also know of about 90 ways to use the thing. For some reason my disbelief that this was actually happening prevented me from correcting him. The conversation was like some twisted rite of passage that I was experiencing. I was being treated like I didn’t know what a pipe wrench looked like because he thought I was a woman. Part of me was offended that this was happening, and part of me felt a kind of affirmation that he was acknowledging my womanhood. This well-intentioned older man thought he was helping me with his descriptive telling of the legendary pipe wrench, but I had an electrical contractor waiting on me to remove a gas line in his way. Instead of correcting him, I figured life would progress for both of us if I just thanked him for “helping” me and went along my hurried day.


For months, my frustrations at work have been building, and my tongue is sore from biting it so much. I have worked in my profession for twenty-five years, and twelve of those have been with my company. When I presented as male at work my ideas were given at least a nod of consideration, but since I have transitioned to presenting as female and telling my co-workers, my ideas are dismissed with no thought. If I have a point to make I have to force my opinion to the front of the conversation, then I get met with asinine questions to try to counter my thought. The other day my managers were talking in front of my desk about supplies needed for a project in our branch. I mentioned something that they were discussing needed to be done a different way. Instead of listening to what I had to say they looked at one another and one said, “She has an opinion about everything doesn’t she?” The other replied “Yeah, whether we want it or not.” They could not even be bothered to refer directly to me, instead I was being talked about in the third person for having an opinion. I stewed in fury trying not to approach the subject again. I need my job too much to lose it over standing my ground on this. As the weekend passed by, it bothered me more and more to the point I am mad at myself for not making it some kind of controlled verbal lashing in the moment. Hindsight is always 50/50 I guess.

Anyone who has transitioned from presenting as one gender to presenting as another knows that people take time to make a course correction. Getting people to use the right name seems to take forever and pronouns seem to take longer. For some reason, they do not seem to have any issue with demoting you socially. I know that millions of women on this planet have dealt with the same for a lot longer and my story is just one in that bunch, but even though I thought I was prepared for it you just do not know how much it bothers you until it happens. Basing the worthiness of someone’s opinion on their physical looks will always be beyond my understanding.


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