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Gender, dreams

March 3, 2015

I’ve had 2 more dreams in the last 2 days I want to discuss here, but before that, I need to revisit the earlier dreams (with Tony and Adam). My unconscious mind is not trying to trick me or hurt me — it’s trying to communicate… something.

Why is it that the only dream-characters that ever feel like my Deepest/Truest Self — not to be confused with my Viewpoint Character — are male, or nonbinary, but never female?

Well, if I think about the real people who look like the dream characters I’ve historically had in these roles … Tony, Adam, Craig S1, JM, Mike, Craig S2, Kelly … only one of them was ever my actual boyfriend, but I was (at least) a little bit in love with all the others…

Because they share my own qualities. Except that, being guys, other people love them for those qualities. While in me, those qualities are (apparently) anathema.

Yet I’ve never ever thought I could’ve just chosen to be a guy, and made that choice successful. Being a guy seems to be even harder to get “right” than being a girl. I didn’t really want to be either; I just wanted to be myself. Why couldn’t anyone see me for being me?


Someone I knew on Twitter sent me an invite on LinkedIn yesterday, so I was on the site noodling around. One of my connections had just connected to a woman with a last name I recognized — I wondered if she was the wife or sister or sister-in-law or no relation of the man I’d worked with the same name. I looked up the man with the same name — we’re not currently connections, but we could be, because we had worked together years ago.

As I ran my errands yesterday, I mused about the guy, S, and the woman with the same last name, and the connection who had started my whole train of thought, B. {Not the B of the other day’s post.}

This B is the head of the state government office where I worked 15 years ago (environmental agency #1). He held that position then, and he likely will until he retires, which probably will be not too far in the future. S, at the time I worked there, was in a mid-level professional position; he’s now B’s 2nd-in-command.

The woman with S’s last name works for a county government office, and a decently-high level (as far as I could tell, anyway). If she’s S’s wife, they probably met on the job.

If I had stayed in Indiana, and stayed working for environmental agency #2, in 4 years I’d already gotten as high as I would ever get. I never wanted to be management, but I did aspire to being a Technical Specialist, when I found out that was an option — a technical expert essentially. That position would’ve been ideal for me. But no women ever get positions like that in EA2. And I knew one, D, a black woman, who should’ve been our section’s Technical Expert. But she couldn’t rise that high. Super-smart, super-capable women at EA2 … go on to work for EPA, or contractors, or anywhere else really. (If said women are skilled with people, in ways I am not, D was not, they can become managers, and every 10 years or so, one woman may be allowed to attain a pretty high position. Women are never political appointees to the top spots at EA2.)

But at EA1, where this story begins, women are secretaries. Occasionally, there are women interns. I was one, and I followed one. But the “career path” ends there. A male intern can become an ecologist, and eventually work his way up the hierarchy; a woman cannot. Does not. No women had ever held technical positions when I was there. S began as an ecologist, and is now Assistant Director. A male intern I went to school with became an ecologist, and is now a Director for a nonprofit environmental group. I’m sure there are more such stories, if I had the heart to look for them.

At EA2, I knew, very indirectly, one person (on another floor) who was transgender, and going through transition. Everyone (but me, as far as I could tell) was merciless and hateful to that person. Their work life must have been hell; I don’t know how they could bear it.

If the woman with S’s last name is related to him, she might be twice as smart, twice as capable, twice as everything, … but she will never be a Technical Expert for state government in Indiana. There is no path to get there unless you’re a white guy, straight, and you’d have to be a Protestant Christian too.

I really loved working in a technical field. But I didn’t love being smarter than almost everyone else, and yet guys half as smart as me got farther, with shittier people skills, while everyone cooed over how “geniuses just can’t help it!” As if.

And if I’d known I was transgender back then, I’d have been a pariah. And probably unemployable.


I’ve spent my life chasing a dream of Being Loved For Being Me, but in my own nighttime dreams, I literally chase dream characters that … only have some of my qualities. As much as I love(d) Kelly, the real person, he would never wear a flowers in his hair, and a skirt trailing ribbons. He would never twirl, and jump up and down, and sing a silly song. He probably wouldn’t squish mud through his bare toes. He wouldn’t talk to spiders or bumblebees.

I’m a whole person, and it’s time, it’s past time, to love all of me.

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