I wrote a poem recently about an experience I had…a painful one. It was like gravity frozen and pulling me back to a place I had long left behind.
I was misgendered.
Now this, in and of itself, is not an unusual experience. It happens fairly regularly, though not in any way frequently, and usually it happens when strangers are interacting with me and have not had a chance to really interact with me long enough to really get the flavor of who I am. I have learned to not let it bother me, to correct the error, and then move on.This time though, it was different…vastly different. It was from someone whom I highly esteem, and very much like…someone I am well on the way to loving. It happened from a friend.
Now, it was clear to me that she had simply made a mistake. Hey, let’s be honest…if you look at my profile here at all, or on my Facebook page, you can see the tall order that I have to overcome. Well over 6 ft tall, currently well over 220 lbs, and my forehead well on its way to a 5 or maybe even a 6 head! HRT is kind to my brain, and somewhat more cavalier with the rest of me…progress in important areas is slow. It’s there…but it’s slow.
And then there is my voice, forever altered by testosterone in the same way that every single human being regardless of gender has their voice altered when exposed to that hormone.
So it is easy to be “tricked” by the outward package.But the insides? The things I talk about? The way I talk? My emotions, my reactions? I was once told by a fairly femme individual that I was “girly-squared!” We both laughed sooo hard over that, because it is true.
So that is why when I was misgendered by a friend it cut me deep…and it destroyed my confidence. Because here are the logical alternatives. Either A: I am doing something that makes everyone think “man”…or B: I am neglecting to do something that makes everyone think “woman”. And that is what just ran at me like water washing away a riverbank. My friend who knows my heart and knows me, who has done great things for me and made a place for me…my friend misgendered and I don’t know why.
Is there a “moment of translation” when people interact with me? Does everyone have that inner “pause” where they have to stop and carefully think things thru in order to “be polite?” Is that all that the correct use of pronouns boils down to? Politeness? I have written before about the onerous statement of “support” that says “If that is how you see it, then I am for it.”
Grrrr…I hate that statement, because cis-women do not ever have that said about their own gender. Well, being polite is the same in this case.And it has me wondering…do all my friends have that pause, that polite moment just before they humor me? Or do they think of me as who I am, a woman who managed to get herself stuck in a dude’s body?
That is what “Just A Word” is about…and how all the internal progress I had made, all the ways I had listened and believed and trusted the words of people around me…and now felt like a fool for it!
Well…my friend is a spectacular person, and I don’t think for a minute she intended to hurt me or wound me, and I think that our friendship will continue to grow and blossom…but it did hurt. And it did tumble me briskly down that slope and back to my beginnings in the valley of dysphoria.
Which leads me to the quote that prompted this post:
Don’t feel bad if you still wish your body looked different
or if your voice sounded better or if you can’t quite love yourself yet.
Self-acceptance is a journey. You’re not hopeless just because others may be ahead of you.
Appreciate yourself. Appreciate how far you’ve come.
You’re on your way, at your own pace.
Ultimately, it doesn’t matter what she…or anybody else for that matter, thinks.
I accept me.