THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

OK, this one is really hard to write. I’m not a complainer, I’m not a quitter and to make things clear at the beginning – I’m not calling anyone out specifically. It’s quite possible that I am off base. If so, I’d love to have someone set me straight…I may not like it, but at least I’ll sleep better.

For almost the entirety of my adult life, I have been successfully engaged in the creation and performance of great radio content. I was a disc-jockey, (back when there were actual discs) Program Director and or Operations Manager over one or more radio stations in a cluster. I am very good at doing that. (I’ve even won awards that say so!!)

Image

(Photo back in the day with my partner John Vance)

However, I did all of that as a guy named “Jeff.” I left a lucrative job (against my will) with a major broadcast group last April, on the same day I decided to live my life authentically as Leslie. (Better late than never, right?)

The curious thing is, I have since sent packages to stations from sea to shining sea and not so much as an interview. Nada. This has never been a problem before. I’ve worked in 13 cities in 7 states. I’ve left jobs for greener pastures and I’ve been fired – more than once. Never related to performance. The process is, reach out to the network of people I know and soon, the phone is ringing.

They must have lost my number – or maybe it’s disconnected. It’s been 317 days.

I haven’t forgotten how to do what I do. In my humble opinion, I’m better at it now than before – why? Well, for the entirety of my radio career while I got up at 3am to come in to work to do a morning show and make people laugh – or stayed late to work on music or spending the month of December working on a charity I started – I was fighting the demon of gender dysphoria. I was in the wrong body for God’s sake! That giant distraction is gone. My full focus is on whatever I’m doing. That is unbelievably better.

I also have the unique perspective of having lived both sides of the gender fence. (At least the male and female sides) …that provides a level of compassion that is rare.

I haven’t forgotten how to do my job. Matter of fact, I feel for the first time in a long time that I have something to prove. The frustrating thing is that whatever the reason, I can’t buy so much as an interview.

You might tell me that jobs are scarce – don’t I know it! While the industry I love is seeing an appalling number of lay-offs, there are people doing hiring. I have applied for many of these openings. I have been sent e-mails telling me my material is ”Hilarious.” That my resume’ is “Impressive.” That they love my writing.  ….and?

One obstacle facing me that I’d prefer didn’t exist is that to work in radio, I must “out” myself. No so elsewhere. I look OK, and my I.D. has my correct name on it and identifies me as female. However, my demo reels betray me. All of those belong to the other guy. He built a nice reputation and I am trying to ride on his coat tails. So far – to no avail.

“He” never had a problem getting employment or interviews…ever. So, since ALL else is the same – voice, experience, humor, resume’ – there is only ONE difference – I’m a Transgender woman named “Leslie.”

Is that it? Does that make people uncomfortable? Frankly, from day to day, I don’t give it that much thought. Am I somehow risky? Is there concern that I will dress like Ru Paul or Carmen Miranda? Is there fear of introducing me to clients? Or is it just fear of talking to me at all?

Leslie - Phoenix

 

(See, I clean up pretty well)

I don’t bite. I’m very polite, I present well, “It’s” not contagious and I’m not recruiting. The only thing I pose a threat to is “The Status Quo.”

Like I said earlier, I’m not a quitter – I will not give up. I truly believe some astute broadcaster will open the door to me and be richly rewarded for doing so – the time is now.

In the mean time, a girl’s gotta eat. The funny thing is that I’ve lived the good life for a long time and being broke all the time takes some getting used to – I am learning to be humble. While I used to make a comfy 6 figure salary – I have sent out applications to Cost-Co and another place nearby who is looking for a receptionist. I will do what I need to do.

I have been slowly earning money with my writing – my take for the month of February? $130. Not quite what I’m used to.

Why share this? It’s humbling. I know good things are ahead. I have no doubt…because I will create them. But I wrote this for Transgender girls that may come across my blog – there are many many things that nobody tells you when you make the decision to leave the old life behind and transition.

Living my life as Leslie is still the best decision I’ve ever made for ME. No regrets. But it’s hard. Harder than I thought, but there is no quit in me.

So to my beloved industry of radio, I hope to hear from you soon. I can’t wait to get back to work. In addition to someone who will work her tail off to succeed – you have the added benefit of paying me 23% less now that I’m a woman! In these challenging times, who can resist that?

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to THE ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

  1. chrissyholm says:

    I know the difficulty you’re experiencing. However, I did give up on the rest of the world wanting to hire (or rather keep) someone like me. So, damn them all, I decided to go back in business for myself but this time as the authentic me. It will be tougher than working for someone else but it will be more rewarding in both self esteem and money. Hang in there Leslie. Your career path will begin anew.

  2. chrissyholm says:

    p. s. I’ve also decided to go back to school to earn my degree in Nursing (just another part of my ongoing “Jill-of-all-trades” training.

  3. Paula Kephart says:

    >> Is that it? Does that make people uncomfortable?
    Yeah hon, I think that’s most likely it. The dudes that would hire you likely rationalize their decisions in worries about offending some part of their audience demographic that just can’t handle someone with “the trans.” But the reality is that it is likely that they can’t get past their own prejudices, either.

    Finding a slot for you would require a little creativity – probably not that much given your great talent. But yeah, they aren’t very creative in radio these days, are they? Couple that with the fears such as – oh my god – some religious group might object to you, and they take the safe but gutless way out of a decision.

    And I feel VERY certain that most of them aren’t ready to relate to you as a person. They see trans advocates – but that isn’t what you want to be. You just want to be a woman working in radio. They don’t even know how to deal with this.

    I think that it’s probably more difficult for you, ironically, because you have such a stellar reputation, and they all know you. I have found that most of the people who know me from my past, while WAY more supportive than the folks in your radio social network, still mostly don’t understand that I’m just a woman. I’m – something else to them. They try – they really do. And they still mostly don’t get it. They just don’t. Some of them probably will over time. I think with your former colleagues, this is likely a difficulty you face – they are so busy processing the unusual situation that being trans has put you in that they don’t ever really seriously think “yeah, she could do something cool.”

    I apologize that this is a pretty cynical sounding response – my view of the heteronormative world is not very positive. There are exceptions who get us. But they are not the majority, at least not yet. I do hope one of your former colleagues will prove me wrong, grow a pair, and hire you. They are missing out.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s