Being in the closet, I am probably not the best person to have a viewpoint on those who choose to live their life “exposed” to the world, but as a human being and an intelligent one at that, I have become very observant and what I saw this week – while not something I hadn’t seen before – was unforgivable.
During my years in confining spaces, I occasionally would venture out to see the world with another pair of eyes… looking for inspiration, gratification and maybe a little confirmation that I could pull it off. What I also found was fear. Fear of what would happen if I were caught, discovered or outed. So while my outings were more successful, they were also very lonely and that is what I saw yesterday morning. What I also saw was fear and hate. Hate directed at what people feared because they didn’t understand.
I often get up before the sun does and usually do my grocery shopping since I it’s quiet and I usually don’t have to stand in line. I got up and headed to the store and usually run into the same workers and a few of the same shoppers. One in particular was a young transgender woman. I see her all the time and learned a lot about her without actually speaking to her. She was transgender (as evident from her mannerisms and appearance) and worked late nights as a customer service rep or telemarketer (this was due to the badge she wore from a company I have done business with). Now don’t misinterpret my observation skills for stalking – the more you see someone them more you pick up on certain clues. What confirmed my suspicions was her voice. It was deep than most of the women I knew. I consider myself somewhat friendly especially when people are friendly to me, but I can be a total bitch when I need to. This young lady and I almost never spoke except for the occasional “good morning” and “excuse me”.
Anyway, yesterday I spotted her as I was marking things off the grocery list. she was at a distance and I quickly dismissed her as I moved down another aisle. As I was picking things off the shelf, I noticed one of the “stockers” coming down the aisle to speak with another employee.
“Hey, did you see that fag down in produce?” one of them said.
“Yeah that tranny comes in here all the time.” the other said, “He can’t come in here during the day so he gets all dressed up to come here at night.”
When I heard that, I tried to let it go and continued with my shopping, but deep down I was seething. I moved down a couple more aisles and eventually the young woman and I met up in the bread aisle. I greeted her as I greet everyone who comes close… with a quick and subtle “Good morning.” she reciprocated and went on with the rest of our shopping. When I finished up, I decided to make it clear that I was unhappy with how uncomfortable I felt listening to these two talking about one of their valued shoppers, but I didn’t get the chance. As I turned into the lane to pay for my full basket, I turn and watched the two workers following the young woman who was now crying as she dropped her small handheld basket and left the store.
I quickly told the cashier to forget ringing anything up and I would return shortly. I walked over to the men who had now picked up the basket she had and took it from them. I walked to the same cashier and asked her to ring up the ten items she had in the basket. When she asked if I was going to pay for the items in my basket, I told her that I wouldn’t be and I would return in a few minutes to talk with the manager.
I walked out of the store with two bags and headed to the bus stop where I saw her sitting and trying to recover. I told her that I saw what happened and took care of her groceries. While I initially refused to let her pay me the twenty six dollars, I could tell she was very independent and would feel worse for accepting a handout. I went to shake her hand and instead got a hug from her. I then walked back into the store.
The store owner who I had seen dozens of times was waiting for me and I explained to him what I saw and he assured me that he would take care of it. I explained to him that disciplining the workers is not the only issue and he should educate them instead. Then the manager said something I couldn’t believe.
“Educate them? What do you mean?” he asked.
Apparently, I didn’t explain myself clearly enough. I tried to keep the young woman’s dignity in tact by referring to her as a woman, but the store owner either never understood or was so naive that he never took stock in his regular customers.
“The woman is transgender and the workers had no right to treat her the way they did.” I explained.
The store owner took a moment to formulate a response and said, “I will talk with them about this. I do want you to know that we do reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.”
I couldn’t believe it. He missed the entire point. I thought about saying – you can refuse service to anyone you like. What you can’t do is put people in fear or danger by verbally abusing them.
That is what I wanted to say, but instead I stooped to his level and said, “Well then add me to the list, because I won’t be coming back.”
I shopped at this tiny little grocery store because it took me back to my younger days was welcoming with a family atmosphere – or so I thought. I don’t know if “Tracy” will continue to shop there, but I certainly won’t be back.
If you are going to hate something then hate what you understand and not what you fear. I once thought hate should be removed, but realized that it cannot be. We often look to hate because we fear being harmed in some way, which is misguided. I have learned that there are things I hate and people no matter who they are – are not something to hate.
You can hate a lot of things. Poverty, anxiety, depression even stupidity, but don’t hate those that resemble these things… understand that these individuals have made choices in their lives that should be respected… not feared and not hated.