The other day my niece got married. Up until the very last moment I didn’t know whether or not I wanted to go to the wedding. Don’t get me wrong, I love my niece, but I don’t feel at all comfortable going to church, and that’s exactly where we were going if we wanted to go to the wedding. In the end my love for my niece won.
So that morning I donned my tuxedo, complete with bow tie and dress shoes – though with a simple basic shirt as I have not been able to find a dress shirt that fits me properly yet – and was quite content with what I saw in the mirror. That was definitely a guy looking back at me, and about time too. To complete the look, I put on my glasses (strength zero on both sides) and was even happier with the man looking back at me.
My ex came to fetch me, and we arrived at the church with time to spare. Found the wheelchair entrance, and nobody objected to my taking my service dog with me into church. I had been a little nervous about that, and was prepared to stand up for my rights if I had to.
The church was beautiful both inside and out. It was an old Roman Catholic church, built after the Iconoclastic Fury, so all statues and other decorations were in good condition. The pews, as so often is the case, were torturously narrow and I was happy to have my own comfortable chair on wheels. At least no back pain for me.
My niece looked beautiful in her sleeveless, backless white gown with lace train. I wondered if she wouldn’t get cold, seeing that it’s only March and it was really rather nippy outside.
After the church service we had – barely – time to congratulate the bride and groom, and less than a handful of the relatives and then they were all of them gone already, on their way to the establishment where they would be dining and celebrating. We went back home again.
It was the rush hour and soon we found ourselves in a traffic jam. To make things worse, I was deliriously hungry, as I often am these days. I can’t eat more per meal than I used to, but I get hungry again much faster and need to eat more between meals, which I often forget to plan for. That day was no different from other days in that respect. I had no food whatsoever with me. Not even a biscuit or a chocolate bar, more fool me.
We decided to get off the motorway and find ourselves a nice restaurant. Pricey, but a drive-through was out of the question, seeing that I needed to use the restroom, and entering a fast food restaurant didn’t seem like a good idea either. Not with me wearing my tux.
So a nice restaurant it was. Again, no one made any objections to my taking my dog with me, and we were given a table in a quiet corner. Now, normally when I go have a drink or a bite to eat with someone, people almost always address my companion rather than me, even when I am the one in charge. Apparently many people still seem to think that my brain is as damaged as my feet. Not this time though. The waitress addressed me first, “Can I serve you a drink, sir?”
Wait! What? Can we play that back one or two, or maybe even three times?
“Can I serve you a drink, sir?”
That was a pleasant surprise. Not only to be addressed first, but to be addressed correctly as ‘sir’ too. This never happened before. One look at my face, and everyone assumed that I was a woman. But not this time. It was sir. Not a hesitating, …erm… sir?, but a direct, unfaltering sir. No doubts. None at all.
Was it the tux? The glasses? The combination of these two? Probably the latter, but there might be more to it. Because these days I really do see a more masculine face when I look in the mirror. The changes are subtle, and other than the slightly receding hairline I can’t really tell what has changed, but it’s there. Unmistakably.
I think I’ll be wearing my glasses more often now in public. They’re uncomfortable, but if that’s the price I have to pay (for now) to stop people from misgendering me, I’m quite willing to do so.
The morning after the wedding my mum phoned. I was just leaving the house to walk the dog, so I refused the call and called back later that morning. Mum seemed to have had a good time at my niece’s wedding party and had spoken to quite a few people, including my ex-BIL’s girlfriend, who apparently wanted to exchange some pleasantries with my mum and dad, but since they hate her guts, that didn’t go over all too well. Poor woman.
Anyway, Mum had also spoken to my niece’s foster mother, who wondered if I’d been to the wedding at all, as she hadn’t seen me. She had seen my ex though, with “some invalid lad in a wheelchair, with a service dog and a lot of rings on his fingers.” So Mum told her, “That was (insert deadname), but she’s calling herself Liam now.”
Way to go, Mum. I am not just calling myself Liam*, it’s my official name, and BTW I’m a man – also officially – and thus my pronouns are he, him and his.
Now, as much as I hate it when people call me an invalid, I will forgive my niece’s foster mother for using that word (just this time) because she more than made up for it by not recognising me and correctly gendering me as male.
She’d best not call me an invalid again though. Ever. I hate that word with a passion. Hate it even more than the word disabled. I’m a very able and capable person, who just happens to be in a wheelchair. No big fucking deal.
As for the “a lot of rings”, they’re not actually rings. They’re called silver splints. Custom made orthotics to prevent my fingers from hyper extending and dislocating. They may look like jewellery, but are a purely functional and necessary addition to my attire. Much like my wheelchair, my custom made orthopedic shoes and my braces.
I’m not the kind of guy who likes to wear jewellery. I’m this man who likes nice clothes and hardly needs an excuse to dress up in a tuxedo.
* Actually, Liam is just the pseudonym I’m using here on the blog, but you get the drift.