Constance, I think I will be okay to post about this, as it is unrelated to the other issues I am dealing with in my life.
I want to talk about terminology…and the way that an issue is presented, discussed, talked about and written about has such a profound effect on the overall zeitgeist of what the issue actually is.
Let me build on the article I posted yesterday (right here is the link again: Gender Confirmation Surgery: What’s In a Name? ), and tell you a bit about what it is like to be someone like me…or really, someone from any minority group that is little understood…but I only know about mine, right?
Imagine if you will that suddenly, for no reason that you could tell, everyone you met began calling you by the gender other than the one you identify as…if you are a woman, they called you a man, and if you are a man, they called you a woman. What would you do?
First, you would correct them…but wait, then you see the looks of confusion, or puzzlement, or irritation, cus no one likes being corrected for anything.
So then you will think, well, I just wasn’t careful enough…what is obvi to me is hidden to them, for whatever reason. So you decide to explain a bit…and the eyes glaze over, or they roll cus you sound so condescending and pedantic in your convoluted attempt to explain you are the gender you are.
Next, you will check yourself…your dress, your pants, your shoes, all the visual cues you can control, your voice and your walk and gestures…but nothing works. No matter what, you are still called the opposite gender.
No…really try to take a moment…don’t just read the next line. Please stop: imagine…there. Now you are getting a scintilla of the experience, minus the wonders of the gut-grind of dysphoria.
That is the first thing.
The next thing is say that it was permanent for you…and you needed to do something or die. You began transition, and you found others who are like you for support…and then lo and behold the culture begins changing a bit. You discover allies! Even friends!! YAAAAYYY!!!!
But you also find that there is a lot of simply uninformed thinking operative in those allies and friends. You feel like you already are getting so much forbearance from them that it seems nit-pickish to point out their well intentioned but inaccurate vocabulay…or the truly supportive but incredibly wounding comment…what do you do?
Correct them, to save them future embarrassment and feeling bad because the support they intended ended up wounding just like the bullies who misgender on purpose? Or overlook it, and continue to try to educate as a context for the relationships so they can soak it up and find themselves in the right spot organically.
I will be vulnerable and tell you all something: whether I am misgendered by a bully who does it on purpose to hurt me, or whether I am misgendered by a friend who literally has no idea, it hurts just as bad.
And it is a defeating hurt, a deflating one…punctures, drains, and then, nothing but empty and worthless…the shell seen and nothing inside.
I don’t know what is right, so I will just tell you what I am choosing here: I am going to try to gently, gracefully and lovingly correct. As I do that, I will ramble and say waaaayyy more than I likely need to…cus I would rather err on that side than the terse too brief and too open to question posting of “just the facts” Joe Friday style.
Part 2 will continue below. I hope the things I write here have some impact…honestly I often feel like it is shouting into a canyon and what I hear coming back is just the echo of my own voice in the lonely stillness. But that is nothing I can control…I write, so that is what I will do, regardless