Category Archives: daily life

Walk and Talk with Gabrielle, episode 2 – “That’s a Man!” (video)

While grocery shopping last Friday, another shopper looked at me and called out, “That’s a man!” I discuss the experience and pose a few related questions in this short video. Give it a look and share your thoughts!
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I’m Trans, I Don’t Pass, and Christmas Shopping at the Mall is a Breeze

Gabrielle in car 2012-12-20Almost daily, I hear accounts of transgender people having a difficult time in public, often being disparaged, laughed at, or otherwise treated poorly/different just for being trans. It used to be that way with me, too. It wasn’t long ago that I also experienced being laughed at and disparaged. Today however, it’s a pretty rare occurrence.

Christmas shopping is a pretty common activity. Most people do it, and their biggest complaint is finding a parking space. I’m happy to say that on this particular day, I had little trouble finding a good parking space at a local mall, packed as it was.

The reason I’m posting this is to draw attention to the very positive experiences I have out in public, and why I believe no one gives me a hard time anymore.

Passing isn’t everything
Within the very diverse transgender community, there is some debate as to whether or not it’s important, or even desirable to pass (ie: to look like a cisgender person; to not look trans). Some feel it is very important to pass, others don’t care, some don’t want to, and there are even those who look down upon trans people who do, want to, or go out of their way to pass.

Personally, I do want to pass. I want to look like an attractive cisgender woman to the rest of the world. There is no shame in being transgender. I’m rather proud to be trans and plan to continue speaking publicly to educate about trans realities. For me it’s a vanity thing, and I don’t care what anyone thinks of my desire to pass – good or bad.
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An Interview with Yours Truly in “The Empty Closet” and Speaking Publicly About LGBTQ

Gabrielle Hermosa in The Empty Closet

The Empty Closet is New York State’s oldest “gay newspaper”. I prefer to think of it as an LGBTQ focused publication, which it very much is. It’s published monthly by the Gay Alliance in Rochester, NY. Don’t let the name “Gay Alliance” fool you, either. They’re tapped into the whole alphabet soup of the LGBTQIA… not just the “G”. In my opinion, it’s more about the “H” than anything. The H is for human being, which is what we ALL are, regardless of how many of the other letters apply (or don’t apply).

Editor and photographer Susan Jordan reached out and asked if I’d be interested in being featured in the “My Own Private Rochester” column for November, 2014. I was honored by the request and pushed the “let’s do this” button without hesitation.

Why me?
Susan learned of me through my work with the Gay Alliance as an active member of their Speaker’s Bureau. To date (as of making this post), I’ve talked publicly about LGBTQ issues and realities on more than 30 occasions. This includes LGBTQ panels, SafeZone training, transgender-specific and general diversity presentations.
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Rochester Pride 2014 Parade & Festival, from Fear to Cheer

Gabrielle in Pride Parade 2014-07-19
Image credit: unknown

Friday, July 18 through Sunday, July 20, I experienced my first (ever) Pride festival and parade. For three days, I was high on life, low on sleep, and filled with love, gratitude, and an emotional bliss I’m not sure how to describe. It was beautiful, just beautiful!

The photo above was taken on Saturday, July 19. That’s me in the top row, 4th from the left, flashing “I love you” in sign language. Not only did I attend my first Pride Parade, but I was also in it, riding on the first ever official transgender float to grace the RocPride Parade. Represented were several trans organizations, including: The Q Center (Syracuse, NY), Genesee Valley Gender Variants (Rochester, NY), Trans* Alliance of Greater Rochester (TAGR), and the Transgender Alliance of Central New York.

I’m trans and proud! So how is it that I attended my first Pride event at the age of 43? In a nutshell, I’m a late bloomer. It took quite some time to fully figure out who and what I Am. Better late than never. Let’s face it – many people never do truly figure themselves out, regardless of gender identity. I very much wanted to attend RocPride in 2013, but…
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Being a Successful Trans Woman in Public without Passing

Gabrielle Walking 2 2014-07-06

Passing without passing
The photo above shows me walking through a local mall carrying my bag of goods. That’s how I look to most people – just another random woman shopping in the mall. Until, that is, someone looks directly at me from 20 meters or closer. Contrary to the carefully chosen photos I post publicly, I don’t pass – not in person. Most people read me as trans without missing a beat. More importantly, most people treat me very well.

The right attitude goes a long way
Years ago, when venturing out into public I’d get laughed at every time. Getting laughed at, disparaged, and called names by homophobic/transphobic cowards made me self-conscious and fearful of going out. In retrospect, I understand the difficulties I used to experience.

Other trans women frequently told me, “It’s more about attitude than passing.” How can attitude affect how one is viewed by others? It took me a few years to figure out. Having the right attitude in public can be the difference between having an amazingly positive and enjoyable experience, or not. It’s a little like a magic trick, but it’s not magic. There’s something more powerful at work, and it’s not just attitude, either.
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“What the Hell Was That?”, He Asked His Friends, Referring to Me

Gabrielle's New Year Portrait 20142013 was a year filled with beautiful new experiences, new friends, personal growth and important life lessons. In 2014 I plan to continue working toward my goal of living life (full-time) as a trans woman and fostering much needed, positive trans awareness in society. Among other things, it includes taking every opportunity to attend to public aspects of life in my female form; as my true self (Gabrielle, not my man-facade).

The photo (upper-left) was taken just before heading out to make a few purchases from a local grocery store, and meet up with a friend at a local coffee shop. I ended up wearing a faux leather hat, which my wife, the Fabulous Mrs. H., recommended just before leaving the house. You can see the hat here in my Flickr photo.

Continued positive public experiences
I’ve gone grocery shopping several times over the last few months (in my female form) without a hitch. I’m happy to say it’s almost become routine and boring. Almost. I still experience some fear in doing so, but I know that the fear is a lie, and I choose not to listen to it. With an “I don’t care what people think of me” attitude, I just go about my business, and things tend to go very smoothly. No one has laughed at me in public in quite some time.

More often than not, the grocery store cashiers seem to be a little shy around me, or perhaps slightly uncomfortable. It’s an understandable reaction in dealing with a trans woman, which is something they probably don’t encounter in day to day life, and so may be filled with the usual misconceptions. Even though they’re a little quieter when dealing with me, and often make as little eye contact as possible, they’ve been nothing but polite and professional, and I’m pleased with that.

I’m a person, NOT a thing
As I approached the grocery store this past Saturday, a group of four teenage boys were making their exit. They stopped talking immediately upon noticing me, and made no effort to disguise their stares. Just as we had passed by each other and they were now behind me, I clearly heard one of them comment, “What the hell was that?!”, referring to me as the “that”.

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Getting Out and Speaking Out

SpeakOut Certification

On Saturday, I completed a 2-day SpeakOUT training workshop. SpeakOUT is a program offered by The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley. Its purpose is to improve the skills of graduates so they may effectively educate about gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people and their allies.

The need to “speak out” in outreach programs
The reason I chose to take this workshop is because I feel a calling to get out and educate people about the realities of being transgender. There are many complex issues to cover, but perhaps the most significant point is a very simple one – the fact that trans people are far more similar to cisgender (non-trans) people, than we are different.

The SpeakOUT workshop was just the first step in many training workshops and activities I will need to take part in before a final graduation of sorts. If/when I pass the requirements necessary, I may be deployed to various organizations, companies, medical training centers, schools, etc. to tell my personal story, educate about trans realities, and answer questions.

It’s hard to explain, but I almost have a need to get out there and educate about trans realities and issues. This has been brewing within me for quite some time – especially after certain personal realities were realized.

The desire to go full time
My life is very busy and often rather hectic. There are never enough hours in the day to manage everything I need to do, let alone things I want to do. Many interesting things have been playing out in my life that haven’t been shared here due to lack of time. One of which is the realization that I’m more of a trans-woman-in-progress, than a crossdresser. These days, I only feel like I’m “crossdressing” when I’m at work (or wherever) putting on my “man act” to appease a world that expects me to be “a man”. I posted a very brief update this past July, to one of my more rushed writing jobs, that offers a little insight: Crossdressing Myth #2. There’s much I could write about this, and why it took so long to figure out. If time allows, I will elaborate in future updates.

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