So, I must apologise, but I’m changing the posty schedule. I’m still working on the Big Intersection Peopley Post, but my hands still don’t like me, so that’ll still be a while before it’s all typed and coherent and stuff. A recent occurrence (it’s not big enough to be an event; it was only voice-to-voice, as opposed to face-to-face) got me all overthinky and strange, so I’m posting about that now. Let’s hope my hands work long enough to finish it.
First of all, being an Antisocial Strange Person, I’ve not seen many people lately. In fact, since March, I’ve only seen Other People in the form of one meet-up (which I’ve posted about already), three gender-related appointments, and sharing an exam room with other panicked People Like Me (it was a “special facility”).
And because I’m ultimately far easier to deal with in written rather than spoken form, most of my coming out has been via typed words. I think that’s ultimately helped with the responses, in that somewhat-coherent explanations plus time for “sinking in” equals better understanding than panicked words plus the expectation of immediate responses… even if my written words aren’t all that coherent. Really, all that proves is just how incoherent I am when speaking… but still.
But despite my tendency to avoid socialising and speaking and things, I’ve had overwhelmingly positive responses to my coming out as trans; I’ve posted far too enthusiastically about that already, I know, but still… just saying. So far, everyone I know has been making the effort to get their heads around new names and pronouns and terms and things; the only people who still misgender me in any noticeable way are my parents, and at least one of them’s making progress. A shiny new experience came my way not that long ago, and it served to remind me of things I’ve been avoiding thinking about for one reason or another.
I’m used to being misgendered by strangers. That’s no surprise to me. But recently, the first long-term friend that I came out to by voice (as opposed to “by internet”) – or so I thought – reappeared in my bubble after an apparent spell in a hermitage somewhere, probably called university. And birth-named me. Repeatedly.
As I’ve said, I know I’m lucky not to have put up with too much of it so far – although that’s probably more to do with the not-leaving-the-house thing than the wonderful-world-we-live-in thing. But still, it hit me like ice water, over and over again. (It’s even worse when it just so happens that you’re being birth-named repeatedly by someone who uses your name at the end of every sentence, out of (non-discriminating) habit… but that’s not the point.)
There were ulterior motives running around all over the place during this particular encounter, and it was less-than-appreciated by my already-irritating mental health. As always, nothing’s ever timed well.
Nonetheless, it made me think. I hadn’t realised just how much I’d dissociated with my birth name, assumedly because it had happened so gradually, and I’d not had a replacement right away so had spent some time nameless. But I’ve never really associated with it; it was just there. It wasn’t “me”, but neither was anything else, as far as I knew. It was just a word. But now, it’s an insult. It’s a sign of disrespect. I can’t seem to stop myself feeling that way about it, which makes me distinctly uncomfortable.
I was bothered particularly because I’m prone to paranoia. As soon as I heard it, I started to question my memory. Had I not come out, and just made myself believe that I had? Had I spent all this time of no-contact anxiously and shamefully convinced that I’d gone and overloaded said person with Too Much Information for nothing? Had I just not said it loud enough?
I concluded the latter, which is a miniature breakthrough for my mind in its current state. I didn’t want to doubt my memory, when I already doubt just about everything else about myself – except, ironically, my transness – so I chose not to. Maybe I’d not been vehement enough. Maybe I’d inadvertently made it sound like a multiple-choice question. Maybe I’d given too much leeway, which is typical of me when I don’t want to put someone else out. When my maternal grandmother was told that I had been diagnosed with Asperger’s, she responded noticeably as if she’d been asked whether she thought I had it. So maybe it’s in the genes. Who knows?
I get angry easily. Be warned. I think a lot of people are ignorant and selfish, particularly people my age and younger, and incapable of below-surface-level reasoning. Luckily, the internet has given way to a comforting wave of maturity, ready to envelop me and keep my thought processes nice and grounded when I need it. Even more luckily, my sweeping generalisation has been proven wrong in specific cases… who happen to be near me and willing to be kind in my direction. But The Way Things Are still gets to me much of the time, and I have a pretty short fuse as a result; I like to say that the only fool I suffer is myself. At the same time, while I’m prone to “snapping”, that usually manifests as seething and bristling and little more (productive) than that.
This is quite simply because I can’t stand confrontation. I embarrass easily, and panic at the thought of putting someone else out. Being trans (and transitioning) is a hard enough deal for anyone, but I’m of the variety that would rather endure the reactive depression that comes with being misgendered than actually correct someone – especially face-to-face, or voice-to-voice. It’s easy enough when hiding behind a computer screen, but not quite as easy for a phobe to handle in public.
And so, at the end of this encounter, I was angry, saddened, confused, extra-hyper-super-ultra-dysphoric, paranoid, sulky-teenager-y, and most importantly, close to brain-explosion over the painful conclusion that one can feel that many things at once.
But it had a positive side. It reminded me of the Real World things that I’ve yet to deal with. Assuming I’ll still be able to handle university for another year, and that I’m doing the right course (which I’m questioning more and more often), I need to contact them re: name/gender change, get a new ID card (oh God, the people) and explain to all my acquaintances that they now have to change their names and pronouns for me, even though I don’t know them all that well. It’s a whole new social minefield, and there are few footsteps to follow on this particular path, which is of little comfort to someone who needs to prepare a script before ordering food in a restaurant.
Another positive response was that of my parents. They said that if anyone calls and asks for me by my birth name in future, they’ll say that no such person lives here, thank you very much, so go away. Which is fine by me; don’t like phones anyway.
So, now I’m being nudged, ever so gently, into preparing myself for the Trans Aspie Social Phobey Nightmares and how best to deal with them. I can’t do anything without thinking about it first, of course – it’s my downfall, more often than not, but I can’t seem to help it – so… to the drawing board I go!
Watch this space. Kudos to anyone who managed to follow that, and over and out.