It’s worth saying again. Being transgender is exhausting.
Why in the world would I have gone to all of the trouble to change my name, have surgeries and take hormones if I still wanted people to see me exactly the way they used to see me and use my old name and pronouns? I wouldn’t. That’s insanity, right? But people, especially people that have know me a long time, just don’t want to let go of who they used to think I was and acknowledge, respect and honor who I really am. It’s maddening, frustrating and, frankly, exhausting.
Candace and I went to visit her sister’s family a few weeks ago. Her sister, who is ‘supportive’ of me, called us ladies twice even after I said something to her about it. And then we were talking about me using the men’s bathroom in public and she was shocked (SHOCKED!!!!!) that I would do that. And then we talked about me thinking about legally changing my gender on my driver’s license and she was surprised that that was even possible and that I would want to do it. People just don’t get it. She still refers to us as lesbians. Please stop doing that sis! She’s worried about what trump will do because her “sisters” are lesbians. OMG!!! I love her and I know she means no harm but this shit hurts.
I know that I could educate her, or try to, and I do try, but really, it’s just not my job to educate everyone around me. Problem is, they really don’t care all that much to spend any time thinking about me and my gender on their own. It’s just a big pain in their asses and kind of embarrassing to them.
And then, at work, I had to hire two new employees right before the end of the year. Do I come out to them as trans? All the other employees know I’m trans and some of them slip up occasionally and refer to me as she or my old name. Plus, there still is the occasional phone call for someone named Dawn. How do I explain that without coming out?
There’s also the fact that I avoid going to the doctor or hospital because I don’t want to have to come out as trans to get medical care. I need to find a new PC doctor because my old one retired and I’m dreading finding a new one. I’m hoping I can hold off going until I get my gender changed on my insurance, but then I realize that I will still have to explain that I’m trans in many cases.
It never ends.
This is the kind of crap that makes me just want to pull up roots and move somewhere where no one knows me and start over. I didn’t do all of this to be dead-named and mis-gendered or misunderstood or to have to constantly be coming out. Really, it’s pretty simple folks. I used to be a girl and now I’m a boy. Treat me as such. You wouldn’t expect a boy to use the women’s room and you wouldn’t call him a lady either. I just want to live my life in peace as who I really am. I have no interest in constantly being reminded that I’m trans or having to explain myself or correct people or educate everyone. There might be people who want those things or don’t mind it, but I am not one of them. I did this so I could live my right life and be seen and treated like who I really am. That’s it. I didn’t do this to create a political buzz or stir something up or to become your educator on all things LGBTQ. I really have no interest in all of that shit. Other people are much more equipped than I to answer your questions (if you even think enough about it to have a question ) or be your political LGBTQ steward. I just want to live my life as me. I’ve waited a long time to get to do this and you fuckers are getting in my way.
But, truthfully, there is no escaping my trans identity. I am trans and I always will be. Even if I did move far, far away from all that I know I’m still trans. There’s still the doctor visits that I would have to discuss being trans or the hospital stay or the nosy neighbor who figured you out on the internet. There’s no escaping being trans in this world. I get breaks from it occasionally, but it’s always there. I’ll be going about my day just fine, being seen as male every where I go, and suddenly someone will call me ma’am or someone I used to know will spot me and yell out “DAWN!!!!”
What am I to do?
Well, first, I have to accept that this is part of my life now whether I like it or not. There will be times when I will have to come out as trans. There really is no way around this at least at the moment. If I ever opt to have bottom surgery, maybe that would mitigate a lot of the need to come out to doctors and hospitals, but I’m not 100% certain about that either.
Second, I really need to get my own shit together about this subject and make it clear to my family, friends and co-workers what I need and expect from them when it comes to my identity.
Third, I need to stop being so ‘easy going’, aka a wimp, about how they speak of me and assert myself and enforce my ‘rules’. This is the hardest one for me. I’ve never wanted to be the kind of person who gets bent out of shape if they get mis-gendered, but when I see people who say they care about me not even really trying to do better it does hurt me and makes me angry. I think it’s best if I learn to speak up more and remind them when they mess up, especially when it is obvious that they’re not trying at all. If being assertive doesn’t work then they will get the same treatment from me. I will refer to my sister-in-law as a he and her husband as a she. Every time they mess up I will respond back at them immediately in a way that makes it clear that they need to try harder. This might cause some hurt feelings on their part, but honestly, they hurt my feelings and don’t care, so why should I? This is a 3-part process. 1. State my needs. 2. Remind them of my needs when they mess up. And 3. when all else fails, make them feel what they make me feel so they stop being so thoughtless.
I never thought that living as a lesbian was easy but compared to being transgender it was a lot less exhausting. I didn’t have to be concerned that every person I interacted with would acknowledge my sexuality or see me as a lesbian. Most of the time I didn’t really need to think about my sexuality at all and preferred that others didn’t think about it either. Living as trans is different. It’s not about sex. It’s about who you are. Your identity. Your gender. Every interaction you have throughout the day has a little bit of gender thrown into it no matter how hard we try to avoid it. You can not escape gender in this culture. Polite people do not talk about sex to acquaintances, but everyone uses gender constantly in their conversations. It’s a subconscious thing and most people aren’t even aware of how often they use gendered pronouns. It’s so ingrained in us that it’s automatic. Getting people to flip pronouns when they’re not especially motivated to do so is a monumental achievement and exhausting. It’s exhausting to constantly get referred to as the wrong gender too. And it hurts, especially when it’s done by those who we care about. Bathrooms and lockers are gendered. Dressing rooms in stores are gendered. Sales people and wait staff are taught to refer to us in gendered ways. Anyone who thinks gender is not that big a thing has never had to think about it and is at least mostly comfortable with the words people use to refer to them. I’m here to tell you that gender is exhausting and inescapable when you refuse to let others decide who and what you are.
*Note: While I admit that I am not 100% comfortable with everyone knowing I’m trans and living out all of the time, my need to not be seen as trans by everyone is not borne out of internalized transphobia. I do have some internalized transphobia, mostly based on a healthy fear of what others might do to harm me. I readily admit this. But, really, the heart of the matter here is that I just want to be seen as any other male in the world without having to explain how I’m different all of the time. I’ve spent my whole life feeling like I’m different and I honestly just want to be accepted as a guy without any asterisk or explanation. Maybe that will change one day, but for now, this is how I want to live my life.