This is designed to help those cisgender potential-allies who are confused or struggling with my trans*ness right now. It’s a personal one, and I’m planning another more general one, in the hope of busting some myths about gender. Because it’s what I do.
This is to save people from having to ask questions that might make them uncomfortable. If there are questions you think need answering publicly, then inbox me somewhere and I’ll add them in.
The parts in italics are the angrier parts of my brain taking over, and are not aimed at everyone who hasn’t responded, it’s more of a “just in case”-type deal.
Please note, as always, this does not apply to everyone, and I’ve already mentioned that several Legends have been brilliant; they know who they are, and they probably won’t need to read this. Although they’re most welcome to if they want to.
I don’t know what to do or say when I next see you. Help please?
If in doubt, ask me! I know a lot of people will be stuck on how to approach The Pronoun Issue, or names, or bathrooms, or whatever. There’s always something that will perplex people, and I’m not going to judge you for not knowing or understanding how it works automatically. I know it’s not something most people think about, so just let me know.
Knowing that you want to make the effort is the most important thing, so questions are incredibly welcome, and very much encouraged.
I have made all this Gender Stuff virtual for a reason. I think it’s easier for people to take in at their leisure, rather than dumping it on people the next time I see them and just expecting them to understand or eff off. I’m not stupid enough to think it works like that. But some respect is required, so I’m trying to ease people in. I don’t know whether the lack of response is due to disgust, confusion, simply not knowing social protocols and not wanting to look stupid/make things worse, or just not being on Facebook/t’internet generally enough to see it popping up where it can’t be avoided… hence the posting. Just in case people give a damn.
But you don’t really need to say or do anything. I’d like to know what’s going on in people’s heads, but that’s really because I’m not a mind reader, and no response at all is not much to go on. If anything, if it makes anyone uncomfortable, I’d rather hear it in advance, to avoid later confusion and resentment. It’s not that I’m expecting people to greet me with “hello there, transperson, it’s nice to see you and exchange preferred pronouns” or anything… just knowing that people recognise that it’s there is all I need.
What’s the deal with your gender then?
Well, it’s not what I was assigned at birth. Basically. It’s just my luck, you know? The one thing I absolutely don’t identify as… just happens to be my birth gender. It’s somewhere else entirely. But I no longer want to be associated with female-ness of any kind.
If you think of gender as a line from female to male, rather than a one-or-the-other-type deal as most people (mistakenly) assume it is, with the centre point being “neutral” – ie. neither rather than both genders – then my gender lies somewhere between that neutral centre point and male. Female just doesn’t come into it. Nor do stereotypes, gendered or otherwise. But that’s a rant for another time. Non-binary is a good word to describe me, and I also use genderqueer, antigender, and FTM-ish… But I’ve never been that good with labelling. Nothing’s ever complex enough to be all-encompassing. I happen to think that’s a good thing… which is pretty lucky, I suppose.
OK. What’s your point?
Well, I’m making a Thing of this because I’m transitioning medically as well. Since I don’t identify as female at all, and I identify as male at least to some degree, that degree happens to be enough that I would very much prefer to live the rest of my life in the “male” section of the gender binary. Although I would ideally like my gender complexities legally recognised, because Nothing’s Ever That Simple and I wouldn’t have it any other way… but I’m still working on that one (as are many others, so watch this space).
I will be taking hormones (hopefully) pretty soon, and intend to have The Surgeries as soon as I can afford to. So there will be visible changes, and I thought it’s only fair to warn people so I don’t freak anyone out when I see them for the first time in ages and suddenly (or so it appears), I have facial hair and a broken voice.
I’m also Making A Point because people are going to have to stop thinking of me as female in their heads, and switch pronouns and things in their heads before they will be able to do so in reality. And at the moment, I find myself close to punching people who call me “she”… and I’m not even on hormones yet. I don’t really want to end up punching my friends, hence the point-making. Ahem.
Right… So, pronouns. What’s the deal (as it’s clear there is one)?
“He/him/his” is preferable. “They/them/their(s)” in the singular is also acceptable, but less so. It grates on my senses to use a naturally-plural pronoun in the singular form, but it’s better than many gender-neutral pronouns I’ve come across. And that’s what the “Ze” on Facebook is for. But it’s not my preference; I just want to open minds. As you do.
At the moment, I’m not holding it against people who are finding it hard to switch, and as long as they’re visibly making the effort, then I will continue to be patient. I get that it’s hard to switch Just Like That. I really do. But my mum’s getting it right almost all the time now, and she’s had the best excuse of anyone not to handle it well.
So, with that example in mind, if you refuse to switch, or even make the effort, then I will refuse to deal with you. Because doing that is essentially nullifying my identity, and therefore my existence. And if that turns out to be the case, then you can Just Fuck Off. Although, saying that, I doubt anyone I know is that petty or pathetic… but I’m putting it out there in case there was any doubt.
Case in point: my dad. He’s in the refusal stages at the moment, and I have no doubt that I’m going to essentially estrange myself if he doesn’t start accepting. He’s had over two years to deal with it now, and he knows that I won’t associate with anyone who won’t try. I’m running out of patience.
Does this mean you’re a different person now?
Of course not. I’ve always been the same person. I wasn’t lying or pretending to be someone else before I came out. The essence of trans*ness is that it’s not a choice. We were all born the gender we are, just with incongruous bodies (in whatever way that might be); no one “becomes” trans. Granted, some “realise” earlier than others, but we are who we are, and personality has nothing to do with it.
Maybe people just didn’t notice. Maybe I was more in denial than I thought I was. Maybe the fact that I was attending an all-girls school threw people off. But I’ve always been trans, I guarantee it, and I’ve never felt female. But I’m still the same person; all I’m doing now is actively taking steps to rectify my body incongruities.
A transguy I know put it very well when he said words to this effect: “I’m just the same person, except I now come in “happy” as well as “depressed”, “anti-social”, or any other negatives you can think of”. And that applies here, very much. I can’t believe how much better my mental health has been since being accepted at uni, and having support from people who don’t assume or judge or anything else unhelpful. While I’m tired at the moment, and fed up with life, that’s purely to do with the workload and the commute. The enthusiasm for being around people is actually still improving.
If my being happier makes you uncomfortable, then you’re probably not much of a friend anyway.
Names now then. What’s up with that?
I’ve finally got that one figured out. But I’m not going to blast it out on t’internet. Just in case. And yes, I’m still paranoid. My first name is the name I would have been given had I been male-assigned-at birth, it has significance to my dad (yes, done partly to make it easier for him to adjust… miserable fail there… at least I like the name), and has several gender-neutral short(er) forms.
My middle name is gender-neutral, and has a somewhat similar sound to my birth name, plus I also like its also-gender-neutral short form; the idea is that people who find it Just Too Weird to call me something completely different can use that, and I won’t mind particularly… although be warned that it might get confoozing.
I finally settled on a surname in lectures yesterday. A word triggered a lot of thinking, and I’ve decided to adopt it. It’s a word that my senses enjoy; the shapes of letters and the colours of the sounds were very pleasing. It also has mathematical (and transformative… although I didn’t work this out until my mum jokingly pointed it out) significance. I should explain that it first stood out to me when in a Molecular Symmetry lecture, and yesterday it exploded at me while covering Fourier Series in the early-morning maths lecture. So there. But it’s been the cause of a lot of laughs at home, and is being accepted well.
Ask me and I’ll tell you. Another reason to contact me with thoughts and questions.
Does this mean something weird for your sexuality as well?
Well, depends what you think is weird. What I think is weird is the fact that sexuality is largely based on gender. But as for me, I… don’t have one. Basically. Blame my autism if it makes you feel better. It’s also in my About Page, if you haven’t already seen it.
I’ve had many an assumption made (when I’ve been read as female, anyway) that I’m a lesbian. And while my first response is “So what if I am?”, closely followed by “Don’t effing flatter yourself,” I’ve never really understood that one. People can assume whatever the hell they like, as long as they don’t react before they Know For Sure. People have given me a wide berth before, even people I trust, because of such assumptions… which doesn’t fill me with hope.
But just to clarify, I’m not attracted to anyone. The greatest interpersonal level for me is that of respect. And that’s reserved for people who have proven themselves to be Brilliant Human Beings. This manifests itself by me simply enjoying your company; I like below-surface-level conversation, and I have respect for anyone who is on my wavelength (especially as there aren’t that many of them). I also lack respect for people who prove to be incapable of anything beyond The Superficial, and in that case, I will avoid your company.
See? My world is pretty simple. If it becomes more complicated, I’ll let you know.
This is too much for me. Can I just carry on as before?
Well, you can… but I won’t have any more to do with you if you do. It’s a simple case of respect, and I’m not actually asking very much. All you have to do is acknowledge that I am not female, and I never was, and switch names and pronouns. That’s it. It’s mostly brainthoughts, and if you can’t even do that, then you’re not mature enough to appreciate diversity. And that’s fine. But go do it somewhere else.
People should also be aware that if you can’t handle it, I’m not going to go out of my way to avoid you out of respect to your decision. If you feel too uncomfortable, you will have to avoid me, because it’s Not My Problem, and I don’t respect people who don’t respect me. So there.
Calming Down Now
That’s just about all I’ve got for now. But I’ll just re-iterate: questions are encouraged, embarrassing or otherwise. I won’t judge people for not knowing things, because they’re not the kind of things people would know unless they needed to, and I’m always up for educating people and opening minds. If your mind’s pre-opened, and none of this was necessary for you to Get It, then that’s even more reason for you to let me know, and I’ll congratulate you for being a Legend – with cake – the very next time I see you.
Over and out.