I’m fed up. I’m sick and tired of it and what I’d really feel like doing, is… well… kicking and screaming, I suppose. I can’t do that of course, because I’m just not that kind of guy. Usually, when I get as upset as this, I grab one of my power tools and work all the negative energy right out of my body.
But nope. Can’t do that either. Not right now. My body is telling me to take a break, and if I don’t listen now, I’ll end up paying for my stubbornness big time later. Tomorrow. Or the day after tomorrow. Now I may be stubborn, but I’m not that bull headed.
So I do the next best thing. I write about it. It’s still preferable to violence.
What happened to get me this worked up?
Several things. There was my father in law’s funeral last week. And not a soul there knew that I’m transgender, so they all misgendered me. Inadvertently, and I don’t blame them, but it hurt all the same. I need to come out to my mother in law soon. Just not too soon after her husband’s death. I’m not cruel.
Then there was Mother’s Day. Since I was exhausted from last week’s events, I simply did not have the energy to go visit my mum. Instead, I sent her flowers. I, of course, had my name printed on the card. Liam. Not the name they gave me at birth. That’s not my name, after all.
When my mum phoned to say thank you for the flowers, my husband answered the phone, and she asked to speak to her daughter. What now daughter? I am her son. So my husband said, “I’ll call Liam for you,” and then shouted for me, “Liam! Liam! It’s your mum for you.”
When on the phone with me, she avoided calling me by my name, but the moment my dad came into the room, she told him she was talking to me, only she referred to me by my birth name. And they continued to talk about me as “she” and using the name they gave me at birth.
I just wanted to die. Right there, and right then.
Yesterday, my older sister called. I did not speak to her, but my husband did. (I really hate the phone and hardly ever answer it.) She was confused about what to call me. Not too surprising really, seeing that my parents and younger sister still refuse to call me by my chosen name, and still use female pronouns all the fucking time.
Today, I found an email from my older sister in my mailbox. It went something like this, “Dear (insert birth name), how is Liam? (…) I don’t really understand what you mean about your Jewish wedding. When was that? Or was it just one of your stories? (…) I told Mum and Dad about your interview with Liam. (…)”
There was other stuff in her mail, all of it equally confused and I’m worried she’s having another psychotic episode, but that aside, it now seems as if she doesn’t understand who Liam is. Which she did understand perfectly well the day I came out to her.
I’m so not happy about this.
So let’s see. Why is it not OK to misgender me?
- If you misgender me, you are telling me that your discomfort is more important to you than my indentity. More important than my life.
- If you misgender me, you are telling me that you don’t mind hurting my feelings as long as you don’t have to face up to the fact that I am not who you previously thought I was.
- If you misgender me, you don’t respect me. Respect means calling me by the name I told you I want to be called by, and using the gender pronouns I told you I prefer. It means referring to me as your son, brother or uncle.
- If you misgender me, you’re claiming to know me better than I do. You’re trying to define my gender for me, but let me tell you a secret. My gender is not yours to define. I know who I am.
- If you misgender me, you are actively trying to push me back into the role I’ve been playing for so many long years. A role that never fit me. A role that brought me close to death. Several times.
So here’s what it all boils down to. You can go on denying my true gender. You can continue to ignore my true identity and keep abusing me (yes, this is abuse, whether you like to see it as such or not) or you can decide to finally accept that I am me. Liam. A man, born with female reproductive organs.
But if you choose to keep misgendering me, know that you are hurting me every single time you do so. And know that it hurts worse with every additional time you do so. Know also, that eventually this may lead me to a point where I can take it no longer and either cut you out of my life, or end my life altogether.
Does this sound dramatic to you? That’s because it is. But not because I am trying to make a big fuss out of this. It really is dramatic when the ones you love keep hurting you so badly and keep denying your identity. When the ones you love keep trying to shove you back into a false identity that already nearly killed you. That is horrendous and no one should ever have to experience such pain.
One last thing.
If my daughters can call me Dad, surely it’s not too hard for you to turn that switch too. Hard, I’m sure, but not too hard. And surely never as hard as losing me forever.