“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—I took the road less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” –Robert Frost
I am staring down the metaphorical barrel of the biggest gun I will ever face. If my university’s bureaucracy gets its shit together, I’ll be graduating from college with a Bachelor’s in English next month. I’ve had four years to study, to grow into myself, and to figure out what I want to do with my life. Now, I find myself at the end of those four years.
I have no fucking idea what I want to do with myself. I tell myself that I’m “keeping my options open” and that “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans,” but I don’t think I believe myself anymore. I think I realize now that having a singular plan and sticking with it is far less stressful than being blindly ambitious with extremely varied interests.
I want to be financially secure more than anything else. I can’t even begin to think about top surgery or tailored suits until I have enough security to pay rent, to eat, to live. I want to be able to grab a drink after work with coworkers that see me for who I really am. How I do that, right now, is the biggest of question marks.
I’ve always wanted to be a writer, and I have about thirty-five unfinished manuscripts cluttering up my hard drive. It is unlikely most of them will ever be completed. The publishing industry is on its way out, anyway. It’s next to impossible to hit it big as a novelist or memoirist. I’m never going to stop writing, but it’s unlikely that I’d ever make a cent from it.
Related to a love of writing, my love of journalism is tied to an equally dying profession. To be taken seriously as a journalism, one should go to journalism school. $100k for no job security in a field that barely exists anymore? I don’t think that’s logical, but I’d like it, and therein lies the problem.
Part of me wants to get rid of all the things I don’t need, pack up, and move to Europe. I could teach English. It would be very easy for me. The only job I’ve ever had has been teaching remedial English to community college students for whom English is a second language. According to a friend I made when I was in Rome earlier this month explained to me that there’s a real need for English teachers, as Italy is doing worse than they claim in the pursuit of teaching English, the language of much science, business, and industry. I would have the opportunity to meet and befriend people I can’t imagine being an American. However, I love New York City, and I worked so hard to have the opportunity to live here. I am eternally conflicted.
I have been watching a lot of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit lately. It speaks to me in a very poignant and powerful way that few shows do. It’s made me think about alternative options about my life path that I would never have thought of before. What if I could be an NYPD detective investigating sex crimes? What would that be like? Would I be able to help real people who have been victims of sexual violence, in a world that dismisses them as “asking for it?” I know that becoming a police officer is a highly problematic proposition, and it is one that would likely be entirely unattainable for someone like me. First of all, I’d have to be a beat cop before being allowed to be a detective. I would have to assimilate (more or less) into a culture of policing that we all know is toxic at worst, questionable at best. Besides, it is entirely unlikely that I’d ever pass a physical or psychological evaluation considering my tarnished past, nor, to my knowledge, has there ever been a transitioning transgender individual on the police force.
In a similar vein, much more attainably, I could go to law school and work for an organization like the ACLU, Southern Poverty Law Center, or Lambda Legal. I could be a prosecutor. I would have to go to law school. Maybe not.
If I wanted to stay in the queer space, I could study public policy. I could work for a queer non-profit. The only trouble would be finding one that actually really helps people and isn’t corrupt as hell. There are way too many Gay Non-Profits that sweep trans people under the rug, who make inordinate amounts of money, who pay lip service to the most disadvantaged sects of the queer community without ever actually lifting a finger or seeing a face.
All in all, I want to be able to work in an area that does good. I want to be able to really help people. I want to be able to work with people who are like minded and who can recognize me for who I am without my having to fear judgment, violence, or discrimination. That’s a lot to ask, I know, but, hey, a [trans] guy can dream. If anyone has any advice for me, I’m all ears.