This is one I am hesitant to post. Normally I’d rather appreciate others than express frustration and disappointment and resentment. But if I bottle this stuff up, it will still be there and will obstruct the flow of those more enjoyable sentiments/posts. I’d prefer it to be a shorter post as well, but here we are.
Mother-loving expletives. Why is it always the mother in the expletive? But I digress.
Pity achieves nothing except to annoy the sh*t out of me. My being trans shouldn’t make me an object of pity in anyone’s eyes. Nor should my depression and anxiety, for that matter. Compassion is welcome, but pity feels disgusting. I’m sick of being told I’m ‘brave’ by people who refuse to step up and treat me with respect. They are among the very people who make my life uncomfortable. So that they can keep pitying me, perhaps? Ugh.
The other day I corrected someone’s pronouns for me – first time ever. In general I’m very gentle with those around me, for multiple reasons. ‘Do unto others’ is uppermost, along with a willingness to acknowledge the steep learning curve for those with no trans experience. Unfortunately I’ve paired these with a desire for peace at almost any price, and a general lack of confidence in others. I’ve been overly accommodating, and shot myself in the foot.
You may have heard of ‘spoons’ in terms of energy? Well, I lack spoons to deal with others’ prejudice or wilful ignorance. If someone wants to learn and asks me directly for information, that’s another thing entirely. Those are spoons well spent.
But the other day I was stressed and angry and forgot to be endlessly patient. I was busy mutilating my garden to accommodate tradespeople, and my soul hurt. When a couple of people approached and referred to me as ‘she’, I curtly corrected them. They had the information, they should have known better, and I didn’t feel any guilt for my shortness. Amazing really, for me.
Anyway it made me wonder what it might take for others to get with the program, and what it might take for me to be more assertive, day to day. I don’t want to keep correcting people and I don’t want to be angry. It’s exhausting and pointless.
How many cis people does it take to change a lightbulb? The lightbulb has already changed. Keep up.
What people tend to forget is that they are not the only person I feel obliged to be patient with. I’m amazed by how often it happens. “Sorry, I’m trying!” Yes, I get that. But how slow are you? I don’t usually think of you as slow. Now I’m wondering whether you were ever used as a juggling ball as a baby. If I were a rock icon who changed their name for the sake of frivolity, you’d be on it in a second. What do you think this tells me about you?
A long distance friend was compassionately asking whether I thought my family of origin would ever learn to use my chosen name, and I appreciated the question. I know this cis friend has their own family issues. I said that my family last saw me about six years ago, pre-everything. When I started the long transition process, I wrote to explain everything, then we discussed it over the phone. They’ve heard my voice change over time and seen my new birth certificate. They’ve finally stopped sending me gendered gifts, but using my new name is a different hurdle. It’s started to sh*t me.
I’ve been amusing myself with my wittily scathing letters, all unsent, due to the above-mentioned reasons for sparing them/us any further unpleasantness. I’m letting them get away with disrespecting me, and what’s in that for me? Martyrdom, conserving my spoons, and if I’m completely honest, a sense of superiority – because I know that I would not treat another trans person like this.
Seems like a strange thing, this sense of superiority. Back in the 90s, I observed that queers often displayed such an attitude toward straights. Many queers knew how to treat their partners as equals, free of gender roles and constraints. They knew how to negotiate satisfying and consensual sexual experiences. They were witty, creative and charming and willing to step outside of convention in order to be true to themselves. Taking pride in their superior skills seemed a nice way to counteract the daily disrespect and stigma encountered in the straight world.
I don’t want to be the angry friend or the distressed family member. I don’t want to be pitied or told I’m brave. All I ask is to be treated with respect. In this case, basic respect means using my updated name and pronouns. Really, it’s baseline respect. Kindergarten level simple.
Cis people could put themselves in my shoes and consider how they feel when others misname or misgender them. Once or twice might be ok. If it happened every day, and only by people close to them, how would they feel? If I misnamed and/or misgendered them every time we met, and endlessly apologised (or not), could I really call myself a friend? Would they speculate about my sanity? Would they want me in their life?
This is what I want to say to some people who don’t know about this blog: “It’s now over five years since I changed my name, and my patience is worn thin. I’m not out to everyone, so if I’m out to you, and you want to remain in my life, try harder. My disclosure was a sign of my trust and respect. For goodness sake show me that you (still) deserve that.”
My pronouns are they/them, or he/him. If your brain explodes, I’ll help you reassemble it (or create an artwork from the pieces).