Phobed? (Part I)

I was cheered, slightly, last week by another excellent piece from Paris Lees: this one about how she dealt with curiosity that, if not exactly transphobic, was certainly rude in the extreme. Game, set and match to Paris, I think.

But then there are different issues, as i found out on thursday and friday, when the phobia is maybe better disguised and you end up not quite sure what it was you’ve just experienced.

Property hunting

Thursday night was property night. I am looking for a place to share with my daughter close to home. She needs to move out: but i am less than ecstatic at the idea of her coping “toute seule” just yet. So ideal solution is somewhere i can also live and work, whilst simultaneously close enough to home base to minimise disruption. It would also help with the declutter, since we are committed to selling the current property just as soon as we can coat it in some paint and tidy up a little: so finding somewhere reasonably close by with storage space seemed ideal.

Until i went round to look at it. Possibly i was just TOO business-like. After a somewhat hands off tour of the property, our guide said she could tell us about terms and conditions – but first she’d need to phone the office. She returned, five minutes later, fixed me with baleful glare, and started with the somewhat unfortunate suggestion that she intended to “speak plainly”. Huh? A telling off? Already?

For what? Ah. Apparently she wasn’t too clear as to the basis of my renting the property, had assumed the worst – i think – and since the letting agent had previously permitted a pair of 18-year-olds to trash the place, were fearful that they were about to repeat their performance. Still, the manner of the encounter wasn’t too hot: i don’t take kindly to being lectured and…if there’s a contract, deposit, terms and all the rest of the legal folderol, what business of the letting agency is it how i run my tenancy?

Either there are explicit terms and conditions they wish me to adhere to (fair enough) or they have some secret agenda that they’d rather not put down in writing (in which case, no way). I said as much: added that i was no stranger to legal action; and watched in perplexity as the woman imploded before my eyes.

Major implosion by small letting agent

Oh. No. I can’t handle this. This is too much.

Huh? (Again!) Were we or were we not having a straightforward business conversation? She would put forward her views, I mine, we’d identify differences and then haggle? Apparently not. She couldn’t go on. She was only there to show people round – which sort of leaves the question of why her boss thought her capable of having a terms conversation in the first place. This was all too much.

How strange! I hadn’t raised my voice, used rude words, stepped toward her or…well…done ANYTHING remotely threatening, but it was more than she could take. I felt completely weirded by this peculiar reaction…and then started to run back over the whole encounter.

She’d been offhand when we met: wouldn’t meet my eye; was pretty poor at making small talk. You’d think that someone who did this sort of work for a living would have slightly better social skills. Was she just having an off day? A trainee? Or…and here’s the rub…here’s the problem: was she totally phased by the presence of a six-foot tranny?

Hard to tell…but hard, given that i don’t ordinarily have this sort of effect on first encounter…to wonder if that isn’t what it was.

Can transphobia really be a phobia?

I remain bemused. Which of course is the issue. Quite unable to tell whether this was sinple poor performance, or something else. A genuine phobia, with the poor woman terrified of a close encounter of the third kind with an ET (that’s “exceptional transsexual”, in case anyone’s taking notes).

Any insights? Anyone else had this sort of effect on someone? And if so, did you reach any conclusion as to what the issue was?

jane
xx

6 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    If somebody has an anxiety disorder, any unfamiliar, unanticipated complication to routine can trigger a phobic-type response, so it’s possible that’s what happened here. That is, she might not have been frightened of trans people per say, but may have lacked relevant experience and felt unsure how she should behave, compounded with a situation she already found stressful. None of which should be your problem, of course.

    • 2

      janefae said,

      yep. except it made me feel incredibly uncomfortable and, seriously, someone so nervous ought not to be working in this sort of situation. After all, if she has to impart “difficult” news, chances are that someone will either shout at her or be abusive…

  2. 3

    […] suspect i would have made less fuss about my thursday encounter if it weren’t for a Friday follow-up from an entirely different quarter: a […]

  3. 4

    alexkingsley said,

    It seems, Jane, we are travelling in parallel at this present moment in time. I, too, am looking for alternative accommodation due to an impending divorce, and what with changing my name as well I hope I’m not going to send too many organisations into a frenzy.

    Should you have another meeting with the agency, and this woman in particular, may I suggest carrying a paper bag about your person, as it seems to me there’s a good chance she’ll hyperventilate going on past performance. Just a thought.

  4. 5

    katrina2 said,

    O yes, this kind of reaction, is not confined to letting agents, being interviewed is a prime example, of someone not wanting to interview you, from a cheerfull face to one of dispondency and replaced with a grit you teeth let’s get this over with smile, followed by the lame excuse, I’m running slightly late, just fill this form in, and I’ll get back to you, shows you the door, and as you leave, listen, that tell tale sigh of relife. They read like a childrens book.

  5. 6

    Jane B. said,

    E.T = exceptional transsexual, …. Loved that ;D


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