When Cis People Think They Know Better

The other day Rand (the husbear) informed me that he and my parents had a conversation about whether or not to use my preferred name/gender around the house, and with others. Without my consent or input, they decided to still call me “Beth” and “she”, because I hadn’t told Grandma yet my preferred name or gender (she lives with us).

Sure, I haven’t said to her, “Grandma, I’m trans,” but I’ve told her I’m having top surgery and removing all my “girly bits”. I’ve also referred to myself as a boy–repeatedly–around her. I’ve even called myself “wusband” instead of “wife” in reference to Rand and my relationship. I walk around in my boxers to take the dog outside in the morning–hairy legs and all–and if I have several days off from work, I grow a noticeable stubble (her and my aunt have made some not-so-subtle electrolysis comments to me). She also knows I’ve been working on building my upper body strength. My grandma may be eighty-four, but she’s not stupid.

Even if I hadn’t been doing these things, and she was still in the dark, should that matter? Does that mean if I don’t come out to everyone, then my family won’t respect my preferred name and gender? What about around my other grandma, who I have no intentions of ever coming out to? Does that mean they’ll dead name me and misgender me every time I’m with that side of the family? What about during the yearly family picnic, when I’ll be topless and wearing swim trunks? What about around casual family friends who come to the house? Or strangers?

By making this decision for me, my family has basically stated if I don’t come out to everyone, then they can misgender me and dead name me, and it’s my fault, for not being “out”. I expressed my concerns to Rand when he revealed this information, but I’ve gotten excuses and avoidance with the issue since. Honestly, this doesn’t surprise me. When I’ve had other encounters with cis people concerning telling trans people how to feel or behave, I’ve been met with similar reactions, and if anyone is the master of avoidance, it’s my husbear.

At my work my name change and gender change was a gradual process because I didn’t push it. Even still, most people at some point have asked me what name or gender I prefer, and have transitioned to calling me either “Brock” or “Ben” (I’ve expressed no preference over the two). I think it went rather well, honestly, and eventually I did have a conversation with management about my transition, but that was over half a year after I came out at work. There wasn’t really a reason to discuss anything until I submitted my surgery request time off. After surgery I plan to be more firm about my gender and new name, but my point is–to those who love me–whether I’m firm or not shouldn’t really matter. They know my wishes, and they are making the choice not to honor them. And frankly that hurts my feelings.


(Even though I’m bringing to light this issue, Rand doesn’t deserves any kind of shaming for this. As this is a learning process for me, it’s also one for him and my parents. But I feel as if this was a moment when a trans person should have been listened to, and not told by a cis person how to feel/behave. I’ve encountered a few of these moments in my transition, and I think they should be brought to light.)


  1. People should call you what you want to be called. period. End of Story. No conditions. xoxo


  2. it’s your own personal identity. People who are supposed to give a damn about you should respect your wishes. About coming out to everyone: I heard or read somewhere that once you come out, you’re always coming out because there are always people who don’t know.
    I don’t agree with that. You only have the responsibility to come out to yourself and the one you love.
    If you start calling yourself by another name people should respect that.


  3. Speaking from the other side of 60 (and almost 70), I agree that people should call you what you prefer and that there aren’t enough pronouns in the English language. But I don’t think you should be so harsh on those of us scrambling to catch up and trying to understand. It may take time for us to get with the program, but I think for the most part, those of us who grew up in the looser 1960s are trying. We embrace the changes and champion your challenges, but with all the choices these days, we may stutter in our support because the vocabulary hasn’t sunk in yet. So give us a little slack–we care about you and what you want. But if we call you “she” it’s probably because we’ve had over 50 years of our vocabulary and your vocabulary doesn’t come automatically to us. We’re not deliberately trying to be disrespectful. We’re struggling.

    I’ve been following your blog and think it’s essential to my understanding of today’s world. You’re doing an invaluable service. All I can say is that I hope I get to meet you someday–and add, don’t give up on your Grandma. We love you and are trying to understand what you’re going through and why. Give us time. We don’t have much of it left.



    1. I’m not giving up on my Grandma, but honestly, I’m not being too harsh. As I’m sure you’ve seen–based on how I talk about everything on my blog–I have an open door policy for questions. Even my critique of my husbear is open for his review (he sees everything I post). However, I don’t think it’s too much to ask for my name to be respected by my family, no matter the circumstances. To expect me to be satisfied with my dead name is sort of like giving me permission to call them whatever I want, to whoever I want.


      1. Oh, only too well I understand relatives who aren’t considerate or even mindful of people in the family who don’t conform to their way of thinking! I’ve lived with over 60 years of hurt from some of them–and even distanced myself from my mother. All I wanted to say was that not everyone over 60 or a grandma is insensitive (as I’ve read on FB as if it’s a given). Some of us listen, pay attention and just hope when we open our mouths, we aren’t offending. We try, but sometimes you need to keep reminding us. We’re old, but we’re trying.



  4. Lots of squishy hugs during those ‘others’ transitioning parts of your life.


  5. Just because they are your family doesn’t give them the right to disrespect your wishes in this regard.


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