Monday, April 27, 2015

The Power of a Pronoun

You know, it may have seemed strange that Bruce Jenner is still calling himself by male pronouns and using the name "Bruce," but it really isn't: he announced his gender identity, not his transition. When that time comes, there will be a new name and a new set of pronouns as well, most likely.
I had my own pronoun issue yesterday. It came at the very end of what had been a very successful Art Fair weekend at my church. I'm in charge of the raffle and we took in more money than we had last year--a super effort by all concerned in an exhausting 48 hours. As it drew to a close, I was celebrating by thanking one of the artists for a painting I had won. A little girl, who had helped pull names and had also won a print, said something to a woman who was with her family about the joyful reception the woman was giving to my painting.
"No, Honey," the woman said, "I wasn't talking about your picture. I was talking about his."
I admit to having been tired and worn-out, but I was wearing feminine attire, painted nails, and earrings, and I have not been misgendered in years even on the phone, let alone IRL. I probably stutter-stepped a fraction of a second, but I continued on my way to the artist's booth, and then I went back to the raffle area, spent an hour or so cleaning up, and went home, where the pent-up frustration and exhaustion burst forth into tears I could not hold back and, at only 5:00, I went to sleep for the night.
It's stupid, I know. I mean I'm seventeen years after transition. I have had a very successful post-transition life. Just a few weeks ago, I needed to tell someone I was trans for an official document and he was floored; he said he had no clue. But a random thing like this happens and it knocks me over so easily and causes me to obsess about it all the next day. The thing is that cisgender people laugh that kind of thing off. For me, it crawls under my skin and nests. 
I have a theory: many/most/(all? probably not, but at least a whole bunch of) late transitioners, even those of us who have known since birth that we are female, even those of us who have no trouble navigating in a female world, no matter what we know to be true, no matter what we tell ourselves or the world--unless we've had facial surgery--can't help seeing the shape of the former person we lived as for all of those years when we look in a mirror. Not every time, mind you, but enough times that it is disheartening and, well, bloody annoying. It has nothing to do with who we are. It has only to do with what we look like. But our society intertwines identity and self-worth and appearance, and there isn't much we can do about that. And especially for late transitioners who have spent our entire lives wishing we could be the girls around us, who now see trans youth able to do just that in a modern world full of hormone blockers and more accepting parents (at least for the lucky ones) and no reason anymore to wait until forty or later, no reason to go the Bruce Jenner route of becoming the ultimate man to fight the female demon within, it is easy to feel a kind of jealousy.
Or maybe it is only me. I have, after all, done myself no easy service by spending my entire life in the company of high school girls. When I transitioned, I was not comparing myself to other forty year old women; I was comparing myself to the females with whom I surrounded myself: 17-year-olds. It was hardly a reasonable comparison. Sadly, as I have grown older, flabbier, grayer, and closer to retirement, it has not gotten any easier. I still see high school girls more often than any other females in my universe. The only one who comes close is my daughter, who is 20, and therefore not much help in this particular regard. (Sorry, Melanie.)
Maybe this is all just a silly exercise. I mean it was one person, one time, right? And, hell, maybe I totally misheard the context of the line anyway and she was talking about someone entirely different. Or perhaps it was as a friend has suggested: one of those random moments in our lives (that happen more and more often the older we get) when we simply say the wrong name or pronoun without meaning to. I mean, hey, I've done that myself. Just an hour earlier, in my sheer exhaustion, I had called a raffle winner on the phone to let her know she had won and asked her deep-voiced husband if he was Gretchen. I didn't even notice I had done it until he said, "No." So heck: I'll go with it. I'll keep telling myself that and eventually perhaps I will come to believe it is possible. The human mind is a powerful thing.

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it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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