19 September, 2009

anxiety and frustration

this week was my first week of orientation and training for my service with americorps. all in all the week went well and i'm feeling good about my placement. i was however fairly anxious most of the week with meeting tons of new people. while i know that i am perceived as male now (i cannot remember the last time i was mistaken for a female), i am perceived as a very young looking male, probably a young teenager. being seen as a young teenager has been extremely frustrating the past few months and i'm sure will continue to be. in one of my placement interviews for americorps one of the interviewers told me that i looked like a 12 year-old. while the interviewer did try to say it in a light, joking manner, i didn't really appreciate this. i KNOW that i look like a 12 year-old and honestly it really stinks. it is especially a downer when i'm in groups of people who are around my actual age, like this past week, and people just won't take me seriously, listen to me or even acknowledge me. it's difficult to constantly be fighting against others' perceptions of you and to have to again and again establish yourself as an equal, or just someone that deserves respect.

i feel that if my facial hair were farther along, i might not necessarily have this problem. i know there are older men who probably have about as much facial hair as i do, but the other men i'm working with this year have beards and visible stubble. i'm trying my best to be patient and know that in time i too will have facial hair, even possibly a beard. right now i just have to take life as comes and know that eventually my time will come.



Toby said...

I feel for you man. I don't know what I'd do without my facial hair. At 24 with a beard most people imagine me to be 18-19. I'm not sure what stage your facial hair is at but until I could grow anything respectable I used a beard trimmer without a guard which gave me a permanent stubble even though I didn't need to do it every day. It is just an idea.

Anonymous said...

Aw. It's annoying to be misperceived. I'm often seen as a younger boy, too, but since I still am a kid (sort of) it doesn't bother me so much. In a job setting it will probably frustrate me, just like it's frustrating you.

Maybe looking younger will help you get closer to the kids you'll be mentoring? I usually feel that I can trust my younger teachers to understand me better.

I tend to feel younger and more inexperienced when everyone else is seeing me like a young boy. When no one expects me to act mature, I feel like I have more leeway to act silly. In the long run, that would probably be destructive --I'd never grow up-- so I try to remind myself to take myself seriously (although I allow myself to be a little silly too).

I hope the rest of your orientation goes well. I'm cheering for you : )

Luke said...

Toby - I'm coming up on almost 1.5 years on T, but my facial hair is pretty pathetic. I have some weak sideburns, but that's about it. I'm kind of just letting things grow for right now and hoping they come in eventually!

Genderkid - I'm hoping looking younger will help me connect to the youth I'll be working with! I just hope I don't get mistaken for one!

Diana said...

Good luck on the beard growing, that definitely sucks. But you know, at one of our functions at school there was a MTF trans person there to perform, and she was sitting next to a FTM trans person (a professor) and they were chatting.

The FTM gent was older, had facial hair, didn't have a feminine body, but it was clear (very clear up close) that he was physically a woman. So...at least you got definite guy thing going. Right?