Recently I chaired a panel discussion on gender dysphoria, along with a friend who is a transman. Someone asked, “How can we best support you?” Jesse’s response was instant, even faster than mine: “Get our pronouns right.” I had to settle for saying, “He’s right. That’s exactly what I was going to say.”
It’s true. It’s that simple, and that difficult. Believe me, I know how hard it is. I see it all the time. Friends, family, allies – including queer allies – all use the wrong pronouns frequently. My kids actually get it right better than just about anyone.
I know how hard it is, how people struggle with it, but still, when people refer to me as “he” or “sir” or “him” or “his,” it hurts. It hurts because I’m not being seen, not completely recognized, for who I am. I’m a woman. It may be hard to see sometimes, but there is absolutely no question in my mind. I know, it’s totally weird – here’s this male body wandering around. I see it when I look in the mirror, and I recognize what it is. It’s just not my body. The only one I have, sure, but my mind still doesn’t believe it. I’m still surprised every time I look in the mirror. I don’t expect me to look like this (though the image is getting less jarring all the time).
Solutions? Upshot? I don’t know. I guess I’m just putting it out there, to anyone who wants to listen: please forget that other name, and please forget my body. See me! See who I am, not what a look like. And remember that ‘she’ and ‘ma’am’ are balm to my spirit.
Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
Reading List for Information about Transpeople
- Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
- Conundrum, by Jan Morris
- Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
- My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
- Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
- She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
- The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
- Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
- Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
- Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
- Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
- True Selves, by Mildred Brown
- What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
- Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano