Last week, I wrote about a podcast I frequently listen to and enjoy. The show is called Under the Influence, and it explores how the world of marketing and advertising influences the buying decisions and opinions the general public makes. After I published that post, I couldn’t help but think about a key word in that show’s title:
One of the definitions of “influence” is this: One who possesses the power to affect or sway one’s actions, behavior, opinions, etc. Everyone has had at least one influential person in their lives, be they positive or negative. I know I’ve had several people influence me during my proverbial journey through life. I won’t bore you with those details here, although I’ll obviously state that my mom and stepfather are two. (Perhaps I’ll dive into all that into another post.)Rather, I’ll be doing some self-examination, which is . Whether or not you acknowledge it, you yourself affect the thoughts and behaviors of whomever you encounter, be it in a large or small way. If you’re smart enough, you can recognize how you influence others and vice versa. And I’m just smart enough (though that’s debatable) to ponder this question of self-analysis: How am I an influence?
I’ll start answering that question by pondering how Male Mode Me is an influence. For one, I am a positive influence to my four nieces, being the loving uncle who has given advice when they’ve asked or homework help when I’ve visited them. More often, though, I’ve been one to give them presents meant to inspire them and bring out their creativity (e.g. sketch pads and colored pencils) whenever their birthdays or Christmas rolled around. They’re all in their teens now (the oldest is a year past her high school graduation), and I hope I’ve helped them have a positive outlook on their futures.
Professionally, I’m an influence through being able to pass extra work and the job knowledge behind it to a teammate who may need something to keep themselves busy (familiarity with each others’ duties is something that our team leadership preaches regularly). I always hope that I’m a good influence on my supervisor and team in this situation, though I admit I don’t want to be too good of an influence that I find myself without any job to go to the next day.
Something else in my male mode professional side that not only has had tangible influence but is also something I’m proud of being: A volunteer. The past several years have seen me devote my time and heart to some worthy causes and worthwhile duties, including heading up a volunteer team for a current short-time project. How am I influential as a volunteer, you’re probably asking? Well, it impressed a work colleague enough to nominate me for a volunteer honor several years ago. Yeah, I was awarded the honor, but I won’t brag about it too much.
But I can hear you screaming from miles away right now, “Enough with your male mode side. How is Allison ‘influential’?” Well, unlike above, I don’t have any tangible influence that being a crossdresser is influencing all y’all. However, I can at least hope I am an influence in the following:
- I hope I am a good influence in how I appear visually. Sure, more often than not my outfits are just stuff I threw together. And more often than not, my makeup is less than perfect and my wig appears off-kilter. But at least I hope that when a fellow CD or trans person takes a look at how I look, they’ll be inspired enough to be comfortable with their own gender identity, whatever their identity may be.
- I also hope to influence you when you read this blog. What, you think I’m only a gender bender? I’m more than that, with my stories about life and other crazy stuff. As you read this blog, I hope you get the impression that a person is more than just the gender they present, or to extend it to the other letters of LGBT the sexuality they identify as.
- And I sincerely hope that those I encounter in-person will be influenced by how I interact with them in-person. At a time when our community needs all the good internal and external positivity we can get, I hope that other CD’s and trans people know that we can be good “sounding boards” that will offer a word of advice or just an ear for listening. Likewise, I hope the bystanders that I encounter will have their mindset swayed positively, gaining the impression that we are human beings with true hearts and good intentions, not the false belief that we are strange and peculiar.
That’s how I try — and hope — to be a good influence. The question for you is… how are you being a good influence on those you encounter in your world?