A guide for the 20-something trans-girl.... Forward:
Before I begin, I just want to state that I am not an end-all authority over these matters, I do not practice medicine, nor am I a personal trainer or dietician. I speak from my own opinions and experiences, there are many other great sources of information out there that may contain much different advice and opinons, I urge you to read them all and form your own opinions, knowledge is power. This article may be offered anywhere, as long as it is done so freely and unaltered. Contrary to the title of this article, this guide is meant for anyone in the transgendered community and can be used in a practicle way by anyone who struggles to make ends meet while trying to become their true selves at the same time. Good luck with your transition and I hope that this article inspires and helps you in some way.
Table of Contents: Part One: Work is still a four letter word! Part Two: You are what you eat!
Part One: Work is still a four letter word!
This is really for the younger ones starting out, if you are transitioning in a long term career I can't really offer advice, i'm a hairstylist..so I kinda cheated. I don't have to worry about gender issues in the workplace, but I used to! I have probably worked for every grocery store in my area, I started off in a position I hated, Stock. I started doing it at 14, I knew even then that it was no place for me, lifting boxes and such. I didn't do it because I had to though, I did it because I wanted to. I wanted to get out and start making money, even that early. The key to success with anything in life is determination and the ability to make a few compremises. The first time was with my very first job, the grocery store felt that my long hair was an issue and they originally asked me to cut it shorter to look more professional, I could have easily quit or threw a fit, but instead I pulled the manager aside on one of my days off and politely asked him if there was something else I could do with my hair. Because I made an effort to ask him, he said I could wear it up in a baseball cap. He was just concerned with corperate officials not liking the ponytail. I hated wearing it like that (in the cap) and it made me sweat like a pig, but I did it so I wouln't have to completely chop my hair off. I think that's a decent comprimise, I kept my cool and didn't take it personally. I knew that getting my paycheck at the end of the week was for more important then prancing around with my long blonde ponytail. But I am jumping a little ahead here, if you're still looking for a job, here are just a few tips/tricks.
1. The way your application looks is very important, crossed out words and sloppy/hard to read print is not going to impress anyone. Also, if the application contains a "comments" or "additional information" section, make sure to fill it in and let them know what YOU could bring to their company, make yourself seem like an asset and not a drone, confidence will impress anyone, especially managers.
2. If you don't drive or bike, apply some place close to home. I know it is tempting to work at the cool and trendy clothing store or gift shop on the other side of town. Even if a parent or relative says they'll drive you to work, chances are schedule conflicts may happen and you could miss work. You don't want to get fired from your first job.
3. This one seems to be the hardest for people in our generation, the interview! The way you are dressed can vary, depending on your chosen place of employment. But, always present a clean appearance, maybe even go so far as to wear a litle bit of fragrance. You probably wont like appearing so masculine, but at this early stage it's better to secure an income than to complain about the way you look. During the interview be polite and MAKE EYE CONTACT, nothing will negatively affect your interview more than not looking someone in the face while they are talking.
And finally, once you have a job, remember that this won't be your last one. You will NOT retire in retail unless you really want to. In my opinion, retail is probably the hardest career to transition in (i worked in retail for 7 years). The employee turnaround is just too high and the pressure of dealing with so much of the public can get to you after awhile. However, this is a good stepping stone until you can get into college or into a lifelong career. If the idea of 'being yourself' is really important to you, i would recommend find a forward-thinking company or career later on. Some examples are a salon or art galleries, another is perhaps the fashion industry. Many office jobs are also very liberal these day, Call centers, Graphic Arts and some software companies. There are really alot of career options out there for the modern trans-girl, it just takes a little bit of searching.
Part Two: You are what you eat!
If you were like me, you probably never believed your parents when they told you that. In retrospect, I wish I would have listened. I came from an obease family and thought it was my lot in life to end up the same way. I weighed around 300lbs at age 17. It wasn't until i moved into an apartment of my own that I realized just how much it would cost to maintain my eating habits.
Sure, it was fun to gorge on a box of oreos a day, with a nice big glass of milk, but it didn't even take me two weeks to realize that eating like that would cost me more in a month than I made in two. It was then that I began to plot the downfall of my weight! Through a little research on the web and just common sense, I discovered that body weight is 70-80% determined by what you eat, not how much you exercise. I tried alot of fad diets that were popular at the time, including cutting all my carbs. The latter of which worked great until I started getting dizzy spells, I learned that by cutting carbs, I was ingesting twice as much fat and had drove my blood pressure way up! Something to keep an eye on, especially for the girls already on hormones out there. So, in my humble opinon, don't do diets that require you to "cut" anything, the body is a machine it needs balance. The key isn't cutting anything, but instead "cutting back". It was then that I wen't back to eating normal foods, but doing so in moderation. I had to figure out a way to diet, yet survive on my budget. I learned that protein and fiber have less calories per gram than fat and carbs, so I started planning accordingly. So, the next time I went to the store, I chose to walk to the save-a-lot a few streets away as opposed to the big name supermarket just a block from my place. I just used common sense and bought groceries I needed without paying for name brands. I started with breakfast cereal, instead of buying cheerios or raisen bran, I bought their off-brand equivilents and saved like 1.50 a box because of it. the same with other foods, even lunch meats and microwavables, you can find all sorts of things that taste just like your favorite foods, without the recognizable name. I think the only food or drink I haven't comprimised on is coffee, but that's just me. Below are a couple example shopping lists showing how much you can save just by sacrificing a little pride and shopping at a "cheap" store.
And those are just a few examples off the top of my head, any town of significant size should have a store like that, and if your area doesn't, then start clipping cupons. You just have to shop wisely and if you are also dieting, never buy more food then you need at a time. Also, canned goods are your friend! Sure, you can splurge for special occasions or holidays, but if you are just gonna buy something that is gonna go bad, there is no point in wasting your money.
Part's 3 and 4 coming soon...
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