Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Friends, Mis-Gendering, and Warm Fuzzies

My friend has an amazing filter on her camera, it removed about 20 years!!
I had a fascinating set of interactions with some friends recently.  One of them was with three different teachers I worked with for a few years, the second one was with a college professor who I work with in helping to teach teachers, and the third was one of my employers. 

While they will certainly recognize themselves in this post, I will change their names.  My employer, let's call her Emily, I met about ten years ago, obviously when I was presenting male.  The college professor, umm..... Matt, I met at the same time as Emily, though at that time he was teaching me how to better teach math.  The three teachers, Shelly, Mable, and Tom, I met about five years ago, I was their math coach, employed by Emily, and assisted by Matt.  Okay, so if you followed that, you know the players.

I worked with the teachers for about two to three years, all while presenting male, though I did share this blog with several of them.  Anywho, the job ended, life moved on, I stayed in touch with Shelly through Facebook, and I happened to transition during this time period.  Uh, yeah, that happened.  Earlier this year, I thought it would be fun to meet up with them for lunch.  We made plans, and all arrived at the selected destination.  Tom was clearly unaware that I had transitioned.  In fact that moment was the first that he discovered anything about my gender variance. 

I naively assumed that Shelly would inform everybody about my transition.  Her version of events is that it was not her business to share. Wow, so cool!  That is not what the expected norm is that most trans people dread.  However, when Shelly shared further that she also had not updated my name in her phone, I was acutely aware that I had not done my due diligence.  Here were three friends that I clearly neglected to have the conversation about my transition with.  And now they were in the dark and just barely catching up, and I am left feeling uncomfortable about my lack of communication.  The lunch went very well, and it was enjoyable.  We did catch up.  Many mis-genderings occurred, and a few mis-namings, but effort was made, and we had a good time.

A few weeks later, I met up with Emily and Matt again.  Emily is employing me again to continue trying to teach other teachers, and Matt is doing his math-guru thing, teaching teachers, teaching coaches, teaching the world.  Matt is actually very familiar with the teachers I met up with, and Shelly in particular.  I mentioned to him that I saw them for lunch.  He was happy and we reminisced.  Later that day, Matt said he would call me to meet up in the evening for a drink of wine.  I joked with him about whether he still had my phone number and if he had been like Shelly and had not yet updated me in his contacts.  He informed me that he already did update it and told me he would give me a call. 

We never did get a chance to meet up that evening, however, the next, Matt made a point to come up to me.  He said I want you to know that, even though I met you ten years ago, and you were clearly presenting male, it feels as though I have always known you as a woman.  As soon as you told me your real name, I immediately updated it in my contacts, and that is the only person I ever think of you as. 

Ummmm..... WOW!   Wow, Matt, you hit that one out of the park baby!  That was one hell of a home run statement!  When I re-told that story to my therapist, she got goose bumps.  For me, I have had warm fuzzies every since. 

Okay, so later that day, after speaking with Matt, I found myself chatting with Emily.  She was letting me know how bad she has felt for all of the mis-genderings she has done.  She has done quite a few, but she is working on it, and getting better.  The other thing is, she often calls herself on it, which is nice.  She said to me, that she is sorry, but that she is also super thankful about how kind, polite, and forgiving I am towards those who may make a mistake.  I told her, well, but of course, it is understandable that it can be difficult for some.  She thanked me again, and mentioned that many trans people she has known have not been nearly as gracious as I have been.  I told her that I appreciated her speaking to me.  And I really did appreciate it, especially when later that afternoon she did properly gender me. 

So there ya go.  That is a nice summation of what it has been like since coming out to one of my employers.  In short, it has gone fabulously!  And did you notice what I did there with the three teachers?  I blamed myself, not them.  Sure I could blame them, but what would I be proving?  That I can be petty and bitchy?  I didn't go there, and I'm not going to go there.  That's just not me.  It does indeed hurt being mis-gendered, and mis-named, but I believe in being kind, and being optimistic about the future. 

Sure it would be great if everybody thought the way that Matt does, it's actually quite impressive, but that is just not reality.  Reality is, if I want to continue meeting these teachers for lunch, every now and then, and to have them properly name and gender me, I choose to be nice now when they are taking the time to learn.  I'm a teacher.  I'm very forgiving in the face of those attempting to learn.  In fact, I'm going to be, helpful, kind, and nice. 

Love you!

Love yourselves!

Love learning and growing!


8 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  2. It sounds as though your friend, Matt, has an amazing filter for acceptance and understanding, as well!

    I've had similar experiences, and, yes, there are people from our pasts of whom we can't assume to have heard the news. I get push-back, at times, for saying that we take on a responsibility when we transition. We need to have patience with others as they process our transitions, because they are going through their own transitions, as they concern our relationships. It's usually taken us years to get to this point, and we certainly shouldn't expect others to make an immediate adjustment. I never expect people to understand my gender identity, but I hope and ask for their understanding attitudes. Those trans people who take a "this is me - take it or leave it" attitude may just find that they've been left alone.

    Thanks for relating the way we should be doing this often-confusing and frustrating transition thing. It brightened my morning! :-)

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    1. Awwww...... that is so sweet of you to say! Thanks!

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  3. Amazing, Nadine!!
    Is it me or my perception that educated people tend to be the most accepting?
    The people I have to deal with tend to be blue collar regulars who just dont get it

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    1. Possibly. I think it is easier the more educated someone is. In my experience educated people tend to value kindness and intellect in others, whereas blue collar types tend to value hard work. Being a hard worker is difficult though to prove, unless they actually watch you. So..... with BC humans, if you don't work directly with them, it is difficult or impossible.

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  4. Thanks for the update Nadine. I too always try and be optimistic. FWIW That might be the best picture I have seen of you .
    Charlene 💕

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    1. Thanks! Uhhh..... that photo is deadly to my psyche. I struggle with my looks but am learning to love who I am and appreciate how I look. Then I see this super filtered photo and I'm like oh snap! Which is great, but then to see unfiltered photos becomes a struggle!

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