As a transgender person one thing is certain, we present our outward selves as the spirit we feel on the inside. Knowing that the pre requisite to being trans is that transgender is not sexuality and that we would hope most cis people, especially those closes to us, like family, friends, co-works, are a little aware of some Trans 101. Being Transgender is a medical condition called gender dysphoria, where how we identify, or our spirit feels, may not match the biological birth defect we were born with. Sexual orientation and attraction aside, when any person walks into a room, they immediately recognize most people as either female or male and therefore address them as their presented sex. Even if there is a little doubt, it is obvious the intended presented gender, so you’d address them as such. If there is an attraction, it is your mind that notices it and sends the message to your genitals to respond, sex and gender is more than what is between your legs. What’s between the legs is a secondary reaction to physical attraction. When you see someone on the street you’re not seeing their genitals, you see their presented gender.
Most Trans people know of that one person or more within your family, on your job or simply a neighbor, that refuses to acknowledge or give the respect of the gender that is presented before them. Just because you may know the biological gender of your Trans family member don’t assume strangers know as well, more than likely they don’t. For years, some in my family, I’ve excused them, trying to realize it takes time for those around you to adjust to your new presentation. For everyone involved it’s a learning and growing experience, but after years now it’s just blatant dis respect and an attempt to be transphobic and belittle me. Occasionally, within all family gatherings I may or may not take the time to remind you to use the proper pronoun of what you see before you, but on a recent trip it was an obvious attempt to be hateful by a blood relative. While on a day to day basis, I enjoy the privilege of being considered the gender I’m presenting. In school, with patients, their families, while shopping, I’m 99.9% of the time referred to as miss, she, her which makes me more and more not willing to associated with family. This was the case on this particular afternoon, while visiting my mom in the hospital. A couple of uncles arrived and with a room full of doctors and nurses made it a point of saying “what’s up man”, “how’s it going fella”, moments after the doctor says, so this is your beautiful daughter. For many reasons this is not only disrespectful to me as a Transperson, but very inappropriate. Thankfully the staff did not pay any attention to the statement, but had they; it would have caused unnecessary confusion. Those of us who have experienced discrimination and you’d expect an Africa-American uncle to also know this that once those who choose to discriminate, may have decided to take it out on my mother, who was a patient in the hospital. When confronted he said it’s because he chooses to address me as what I was born. Besides the ignorant dis respect that is to me as a human being, it is unnecessary, there are people in the room who only sees a woman, regardless what you know or have known, there is no need to open a can of worms that benefits no one other than your selfish bigoted ego.
Ironically my girlfriend was going through a similar situation only thirty minutes away at the wake of her step father who had died. While being with the family there were a few in attendance that wanted to call her by her boy name, refer to her as him leaving those who did not know confused as to why they were saying that. If you have someone in your family that is transgender and you don’t agree with it, this is not the way to show that disagreement, all you are doing is embarrassing not only yourself, but causing unneeded confusion. Her distant relatives wanted to continue by bringing God into the mix, and she reminded them to read Matthew 19:12 about eunuchs being accepted by God, they asked what a eunuch is and were informed it’s what we call transgender today. It’s sad when people want to quote the bible but don’t even know what half of what is being said.
I call many of these attempts by people a direct result from that Jerry Springer mentality, that even if a passable trans-woman or man is standing amongst them, they feel the need to let all around know, that what you think is a woman or a man is not. What purpose has it served? What positive message or support has been placed in the universe by your bigotry? And to have it come from your own family makes it worse than the worst bigot on the streets that’s willing to murder me for whom I am. I have for years, made excuses for my family, while I go to work and get the respect I simply ask for. For years I’ve excused family all while on a daily basis my gender as a woman is never questioned. For years I’ve excused family all while hearing stories of many transgender people brag about how their family has come to terms and are constantly using the right pronouns. I may not have been disowned and made homeless at a young age by my family, but I truly believe, despite my mother, I would’ve been better off. There are a hand full that after a decade gets it and use the correct pronoun, but there is far too many in my family that just don’t and want give a damn to even try. To you I say now…if you will not give me the respect I am entitled too as a human being, and as the person you see before you, not only will your feelings be hurt, but you can count yourself no longer welcomed in my life under any circumstances.
Many Transgender people must deal with this, but it shouldn’t be so difficult. You don’t walk into a room and see everyone referring to the trans person as the gender presented and unnecessarily say the opposite, if you do after constantly being told how offensive and rude that is, not only to the transperson, but confusing to all around, you are just being a class A asshole and have and will no longer be a part of my life.
There are many reasons to have some pronoun etiquette, the main reason simply not about you, but the people around who sees your trans family member as just the human being they are, by purposely choosing to say the wrong prounoun, you've only cause other parties to feel uncomfortable and confused. It’s not about you, or what you know, or what you accept, it’s about the dignity of the person you claim to love, it’s about not confusing strangers that haven’t questioned anything. It’s about respect.
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