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International Women’s Day 2024

Last updated on 10/03/2024

March 8th was International Women’s Day. Our company did a photo for social media and a breakfast for us, which was nice.

It’s nice to say “for us”. This year I was included in the events because well, I’m a woman, and of course I should be. It wasn’t always that way though. Before I was out, I couldn’t be included.  No one knew that’s what I wanted. Even after I came out, it took some time.  Eventually, one of my friends advocated for me getting added to the right mailing lists, and so this year I got an invitation.

That’s all water under the bridge now. Still, I was really nervous about going. This is the first women’s event I’ve done at work. For me, belonging is a challenging thing. I couldn’t be more certain in my identity. I couldn’t feel I belong at those events and in those spaces any more than I do.

However, it’s impossible for me to ignore how much some people disagree with that. I hear how people talk about transgendered people in the news. I can see what the discourse is on social media. I’ve heard how people talk about me specifically when they think I’m out of earshot. I’ve personally experienced people strongly disagreeing that I belong in a women’s-only space.

And knowing that, it’s hard not to panic. Even when I know that the group is largely accepting of me. I just couldn’t feel like I looked right today. I went a dozen outfits deep trying to feel normal.

Instead I felt like I was going to be scrutinized and judged. To be clear, that’s not the fault of any specific woman I work with — they’ve all treated me wonderfully. That’s just how I experience the world sometimes. I was terrified someone would see my outfit as overdone. Or underdone. Too garish. Too stilted. Wrong, somehow.

At the core of it, I was worried someone wouldn’t see me the way I see myself, as a woman. I got frustrated. Then I cried. And then, my dear sweet wife chimes in:

“If it’s any consolation, changing a dozen times then crying in frustration is one of the most feminine things you can do.”

And that honestly helped a lot. I got myself back under control, finished getting dressed, and hopped in the car. I turned it on, and the radio starts blasting out Aerosmith’s “Dude (looks like a lady)”. If it had been in a movie, you’d call it hackneyed.  As it was, even I have to admit, that’s kind of funny given the context.

I got to work, and went to the event. The picture came out fine, and the breakfast was lovely. The catering was good, and the conversations were fun. I was just as much a part of the group as anyone else. There was, as I knew academically, nothing to be worried about. I work with decent folk, after all.

I don’t know what to think about holidays like this. One day isn’t going to move the needle on any matter of real importance. Important things are big, and change is slow. But, for me, a lot changed. I feel more comfortable where I work now, and that’s a big deal.

Published inPersonal