Transitioning is a fresh start. A chance to start down the correct path towards the destination of being your true self. As refreshing and relieving as that can be after years of hiding and/or denial, it’s not the thing that makes it all worthwhile. That honour belongs to others. It’s little things like those around you using the correct pronoun or name which really offers you something that’s always been a stranger: acceptance. You’re finally being accepted as the real you. Sadly, as much as other people can offer that, they can also take it away by refusing to use the correct pronoun or name – essentially denying you your identity.
Sure, you’re told to ignore those that call you by your dead name, or to not let it get to you when people refuse to use the correct pronoun, but come on…really? Why should we have to make do? Let’s be realistic here. If it really was so simple to ignore, we’d all be fine. Wouldn’t we? There’d be no bullying or discrimination. We’d all just plod along through life ignoring things which are disrespectful or hurtful. And it really is that: disrespectful and hurtful. We’re all people and have the right to exist. For somebody to refuse our identity hits us really fucking hard, in a place that nothing else can really touch.
Some people will genuinely make a mistake and then correct themselves, feel awkward or embarrassed. A lot of that is just down to awareness. They don’t realise it’s ok to ask which pronouns you prefer. Asking first is respectful. Often, people who make mistakes are then happy to learn more and to take it on board for the future. But when is a mistake one too many? In the early stages of social transition, people around you will make mistakes. But after a month or so, is it still a mistake? People will remember to address a married woman by her new surname almost instantly…so why can’t the same people remember to use your chosen name or pronoun? How many times do they need to be told? However if you refer to a Blastoise as a Squirtle, certain people will go fucking nuts. WHAT??? People are able to call a fictional little critter by it’s correct name but not a human being??!!! Stop the world, I want to get off.
For some trans people, it’s even worse. Those around them simply refuse to accept them for who they are. They don’t even try to understand or make an effort. Just a simple, non-debatable “no”. I recently reached out to (trans) people about their experiences. The email responses I received ranged from people “forgetting” to use the correct pronouns, causing constant frustration, to demands of “if you work here, then you will be referred to by the gender you were assigned at birth” to straight up selfish acts of exclusion. I was shocked to find quite a few people had their family and close friends refusing to acknowledge their identity. Yes, family members. Those people who are meant to love you no matter what. I know my family is totally dysfunctional but at least I don’t have anything to do with them and therefore don’t have to suffer their ignorance or selfishness. To learn that there are trans sisters and brothers being bullied or verbally abused by their own family members is disgusting and shocking. One particular person lived at home and had no choice but to put up with the belittling verbal abuse from their parents. They went out of their way to use incorrect pronouns, making no attempt to disguise their hate for somebody who was supposed to be their child. How fucking evil. This person descended into depression because of the inability to escape their circumstances and being held hostage in an abusive family environment.
I am at a loss for words. What is so difficult about be respectful? A combination of gender dysphoria, guilt, denial and/or depression is enough of a daily struggle, without an outsider (yes, even family, friends and loved ones) creating more stress and upset. Somebody going through something as personal as dealing with their gender identity and making life-changing choices needs support, not grief. It doesn’t matter whether you personally agree with their choice or not. It’s not your life. So be respectful. Be civil. And if you feel that it is your business and that it is your concern, then you need to be honest with yourself: are you only resentful, angry, spiteful and even in denial because you’re more concerned about how it affects you or makes you look?
Image: via Google