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.)