18 June 2011

Who Is Passing Whom?

I was starting tow write an e-mail to a colleague at my second job, which may become my primary job.  I haven't sent that e-mail, and am not sure I will.  If said colleague reads this post, I probably won't need to send that e-mail.

In it, I described a bit about my experience in that place this year.  In one sense, I would like to make that place my new professional "home," so to speak.  In that place,  I haven't experienced the subtle and not-so-subtle discrimination I've encountered on my primary job.  Plus, it doesn't seem to have the dysfunction, the corruption or just the pure-and-simple pettiness that do so much to define the atmosphere, not to mention behavior and relationships, at my other job.

Still, I can't say that I felt "at home" at that second job, and somehow I don't expect to.  That is in no way the fault of anyone I've encountered there--at least, not anyone I've encountered in person.  (In fact, the colleague to whom I was writing the e-mail is one of the nicest co-workers I've had in a long time.) Perhaps it is not fair to say such things, as I started to work there less than a year ago.  But I have noticed that there is a fundamental way in which I am different, which may or may not have to do with my experiences of gender identity and transition.

I think that if I had to choose one word to encapsulate that difference, it might be "innocence."  There really seems to be a belief that if they work for and with the system, it will work for them.  Whatever remnants I may have had of such a belief were destroyed on my primary job; I don't know whether anyone ever regains such a sense, or gains it after not having had it in the first place. 

What that means is that they trust authority in a way that I can't, and perhaps never will.  The interesting thing is that it's the most "liberal" people there who seem to have that faith (I can't think of a better word for it):  They still think that governments and administrations can be moved to act in enlightened ways.  I'm thinking in particular of one prof--whom, actually, I like personally--who wants me to become an organizer for the union.  It is the same union to which faculty members at my main job belong; both colleges are part of the same university system.  The prof says he "admires" my "intelligence" and "courage."  (Little does he know!)  However, I would have a very hard time in helping out a union that said it couldn't help me in what was a blatant case of discrimination.  

And--let's face it--after an experience like that, and of being "used" by various people and organizations, you tend to become a bit wary, to say the least.  Sometimes I don't simply feel I can't, or am not sure I can, trust certain colleagues and superiors:  I'm not even sure that I want to trust them.  Having been brought up on trumped-up charges, and being blamed for sexual harassment I experienced, may simply have made me less capable, and less desirous, of giving trust, at least on the job.

A few days ago, someone at my main job remarked that I am "outgrowing" that place.  I don't think I've been at my second job long enough for that to have happened.  But I sometimes wonder if I'm "outgrowing" the academic world entirely.  Or, perhaps, it is leaving me in some way.