2

Training update

NYC skyline with frozen Hudson River

The view from my run yesterday looks way colder than it actually was out

I haven’t done one of these in a long time, but seeing as how marathon training time is almost here, now seems like a good time to start again.

I guess I should also drop in here that I decided on a marathon for the “spring.” Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, Minnesota on June 20!! Yay! I’m kind of excited for this. I haven’t trained for a marathon since this time last year and I think I’m ready for it again. I’m not going to harp on how rough my running was for most of last year, but things are feeling like they’re coming together now. Not to mention, I’m coming off an awesome weekend running the Goofy Challenge!

Training starts a week from today. I decided I’m going to drop back to the same plan I used for Richmond 2013 and Chicago 2012. That plan worked really well for me. Richmond was a very successful race and Chicago was pretty successful too, even though I didn’t hit my goal. I would love to go for it with the same plan I used for New Jersey last year, but I’m in no way running the kind of miles needed right now to jump into that. Plus, I’m not even sure how to fit those kind of miles into my schedule right now.

I don’t have a concrete goal for the race yet. For now, I’m just looking to PR, but I’ll check back in with my goal halfway through training and adjust accordingly. I would love it if I got myself back to a point where I could go for a BQ, but right now that feels really far away. We’ll see how it goes.

Two weeks ago, I squeezed in four runs and two spin classes with just one rest day. I totaled 21 miles. Not a a ton, but not bad with the two spin classes.

Last week, I ran five days, went snowboarding one day, and took a spin class. I hit 30.4 miles. The spin class and four of the miles where on the same day as part of my first ever double workout in one day! I was super proud of myself. I also felt really good all week. Tired, but less so than I expected. Yesterday’s run, in particular, was awesome. It was a ten-miler in Liberty State Park. The weather was perfect. 41º, very light wind, and sunny! But it was very wet out! Puddle city! All the ice and snow from Saturday was melting and leaving behind all kinds of slush and ice-cold puddles. I ended up stepping into a calf-deep puddle about 200 feet into my run and completely soaked my feet. Though, this is kind of the best thing that can happen in that situation. Once your feet are wet, you don’t have to worry about avoiding puddles anymore so I just had fun running right through them like a child. It was great!

This week, I’m planning pretty much the same thing, but the snowboarding is still up in the air. Once Monday hits, running is my number one focus and snowboarding will be done until next season so I’d like to go once more, but I’d also like to start training with fresher legs and be able to squeeze in two rest days this week. We’ll see how I feel later in the week, I guess.

mountain creek snowboarding

Snoooooow

On a side note about snowboarding this past weekend…it was a great day with awesome snow conditions. Unfortunately, it was partially ruined by being misgendered by my friend’s girlfriend. I had never met her before Saturday and hadn’t even seen my friend since before I transitioned. Throughout the day, she’s use male pronouns for me, but I wasn’t quite 100% sure I heard her correctly. Sometimes, things sound off, but you’re not sure enough to actually speak up and correct. I tend to give the benefit of the doubt in those situations rather than risk calling someone out for something they didn’t actually do. Eventually, on the bus ride home, I heard her clearly call me “him” to my friend. I corrected her and she apologized and then did it again a few minutes later!

It wasn’t malicious or anything like that, but given that she’d never met me before there was no excuse of “muscle memory.” Her misgendering me meant that’s how she actually seems me. And this was after we had conversations in which I clearly asserted myself as a woman in the way I talked about things. At one point, she even asked me “how do you go from having a full beard to being a woman?” I quipped back that I was always a woman and “a ton of lasers.”

This kind of thing is just super frustrating and it really makes my fears about using the gym seem so much more real. I’m either not seen as a woman or I’m not seen as a real woman.

Orale tacos

And tacos because why not?

7

When being assaulted isn’t even the worst part of your day

If you follow me on Twitter, you briefly saw some of this last night, but I didn’t include any details. So let me tell you about my day yesterday…

I’ll start at the beginning of my day. As many of you are aware, my wife and I are moving soon and trying to get all ready for that. Part of this has involved many phone calls. Almost without exception, using the phone is a high anxiety thing for me. I’ve never much liked the phone, it just makes me really uncomfortable, but since transitioning it’s a whole new level of torture…panic-attack inducing, even. Because of my voice, I get misgendered almost 100% of the time. Even after correcting the person on the other end of the line, they often still can’t grasp calling me “ma’am” instead of “sir.” You’d think knowing my name is Amelia would be enough, but it never seems to be.

Like I said, I’ve had to make a ton of phone calls for things like closing our utility accounts here, opening accounts there, parking permits, the moving truck, and all that other fun stuff that comes with moving. All of the accounts here are in my name and I generally manage our finances so it makes sense to keep them that way. Unfortunately, that means I have to be the one to call and, even more unfortunately, the accounts I’m closing are all under my birth name since they were opened prior to transitioning. So this requires having to pretend to be old me and put up with the misgendering.

Yesterday morning, I had to make about six different phone calls in the morning and it took a lot out of me emotionally to have to deal with it it all. By the end of the day, I was just barely starting to shake it off, but I was having a serious “I look like a dude” kind of day so I still wasn’t in the best of shape. I left work a few minutes early so I could catch an earlier train and I made it just in time to grab a seat on what became a standing-room only train.

Sitting on the train, already hating myself and feeling like I really stood out as a freak (which is not how I typically feel), I took out my phone to entertain myself, as I normally do. I caught up on Twitter and then moved over to Tumblr before finally getting to Facebook. As I was scrolling through Facebook, I got to some photos from my friend’s wedding shower last month. There were a good 200 of them, but I was running low on stuff to look at so I decided to flick through them all. Of the 200, only a handful had me in them, which is a good thing, but as I got to each photo I was in, I felt more and more horrible about myself. I know I’m not very photogenic–before you decide to tell me otherwise, realize that the selfies I post are usually the result of more than a dozen takes, editing in two different apps, and then double-filtered–but these were exceptionally bad. As I looked at them, I couldn’t see a woman in there at all. The only thing I could see was “the man I used to be.” This piled onto how I already felt about myself for the day and really kicked me in the ladyballs. I felt hideous and freakish and horribly dysphoric. I wanted to curl up in a ball and die. The whole thing put me into a nice suicidally depressed state.

The next part requires a little backstory…most days, my wife drops me off at the train station closest to our house. There isn’t really a good parking option for that station so it just makes sense to do it this way. Less headaches. However, my wife had a work trip followed by a personal trip that resulted in her not being able to drive me for the last four days, leaving me to have to drive myself to the station. Since the parking isn’t great there, I drove up to the next station where there is parking…sort of. For about a half mile radius around the train station, the streets are all resident-only parking and permits are required. However, if you’re willing to walk, there are no permits required beyond that. These are all residential streets so you’re awkwardly parking in front of random houses, but people do it. I don’t make a habit of it because I know I would be highly annoyed about people doing it if I lived there, but my options were limited and it was just for four days. The first three days were completely fine and there were no issues other than getting a serious death stare from the guy who lives in the first house outside of the permit zone.

Yesterday was different though. I got off the train, feeling nearly suicidally depressed, dysphoric, and self-hating, but I was still in enough control of my emotions to know it’d pass and I’d be fine. Barely. As I got close to my car, I saw an old Chinese man yelling at a young man. I couldn’t hear what they were saying, but I could figure it out. The younger man was parked in front of the same house as I was, two cars up. I figured “great, now this guy is going to fuck with me.” I was right.

As I got up to my car, the old man came over to me and started screaming at me about parking there. He was obviously very upset, but he was also clearly a first-generation American and spoke very little English. If I could guess, his vocabulary must have been only a couple hundred words. I felt a bit bad for him, at first, with how much he was struggling to communicate and that he couldn’t understand what I was saying.

I didn’t want to get into it with him. I’m a transgender woman and it was dark out now and I was alone. While I consider the area to be reasonably safe, I was already in a very compromised emotional state and red flags for my safety started going up as I quickly thought of all the bad places this could end up going.

I ignored him and got in my car. I already had my keys in my hand so I started up and tried to make a quick getaway. Unfortunately, he crossed right in front of my car and wouldn’t move. He leaned up against my car while screaming at me and blocked any attempt for me to leave. I tried to back up, but there wasn’t enough room to back out of the spot.

I rolled down the window and screamed at him to get off of my car and let me leave, but he refused and continued to lean up against it and pound his hand on it.

I was being kept there against my will and being verbally assaulted. I felt terrified and alone.

He screamed that he was going to call the police and report me for parking there. I tried to explain to him that this street was not a permit parking street and anyone could park there. I also tried to explain that I understood where he was coming from, but I had done nothing wrong. He couldn’t understand me, but got in my face screaming at me and continued to physically block my ability to leave. I then tried to explain to him that what he was doing was assault and the police, which he had called, were going to arrest him and I would press charges. He didn’t seem to fully understand and was undeterred.

At this point, the younger man he was originally yelling at came back. He had moved his car down the street so the older man couldn’t block him and then walked back up to try to help me.

At first, I was glad that he was back to help. But then, he started with the misgendering. He kept calling me “man” and “he” even after I asked him not to. Eventually, after the fourth or fifth time, I took a stand against him and said “stop calling me he and man. I am a woman.”

Now, I felt even more scared. I had this younger man who was trying to help me, but was actually attacking me verbally without even realizing it. All I wanted was to go home and escape this, but I was being physically blocked from moving my car and stuck standing between the two of them. I had one man screaming at me about my car and the other one stripping me of my identity with no real way to escape. I knew if I just walked or ran away, the younger man wouldn’t stop me, but I couldn’t even do that. At this point, my car was half in the middle the street and couldn’t be left where it was. If it was, it would have been towed for blocking the street. And I couldn’t risk possibly running over this older man. Any action on my part could have only made my situation even worse.

At one point, some neighbors came out and tried to reason with the man, he wouldn’t listen. They quickly gave up after telling him he was going to get arrested, but I feared other neighbors who might turn on me coming out as well.

There was nothing I could do except wait for the cops to get there, which was yet another terrifying element of this. The police are rarely kind to trans folk. In most cases, they cannot be trusted to treat us with respect and humanity. In the worst cases, they assault us even further. There is good reason why trans people don’t trust the police and often don’t report things to them. It’s actually safer not to.

I had no idea what was going to happen with the police. I knew I was not, in any way, in the wrong, but there was no way for me to know if the police were going to essentially punish me for being trans.

The younger man asked me if I wanted him to stay and, despite being repeatedly misgendered by him, that seemed like the better option. He didn’t quite seem to understand my level of being upset and tried to calm me down a little. Eventually, knowing he was not a threat to my physical safety, I said “look, you don’t understand how terrifying it is to be kept somewhere against your will, especially as a transgender women.” I immediately regretted saying that last part. I wanted to somehow convey why this was such a big deal to me and why I was not able to keep my cool, but I wish I hadn’t.

This is where things became invasive. He asked me if this is my real voice. I said it was and he followed up asking me if I had some sort of a procedure done on it. I was mortified. What? Why was he asking about my voice?! Then it hit me, he thought I was a transgender man and was questioning how my voice was so deep. He thought I was “born a woman and wanted to be a man,” to use the words he ended up saying a few seconds later. I corrected him with my standard “when I was born, the doctor said ‘it’s a boy!’ I disagree.”

He sort of half apologized, but then started asking me more questions about my being trans and said things like “you think and feel like you’re a woman, okay. I get it.” This felt like the only part of my day I could push back against so I stood firm here. I said “I don’t think I am a woman. I AM a woman.” I asked him to tell me what makes him a man without mentioning anything physical. When he replied with basically “I don’t know, I just am,” I quickly said “that’s how I feel about being a woman. I just am.” He finally seemed to get it and the tensions dropped a bit on that front. He asked my name and, after I told him, he said it was his sister’s name. I felt like I had at least won one of my battles for the day, but I wasn’t unscathed by it. It’s kind of like a “you should see the other guy” situation.

Meanwhile, the older man is still blocking my car and yelling at me about the cops coming. I was still being held there against my will. I was still terrified of other neighbors who may end up being violent against me for being transgender. And I was still scared of what was going to happen when the police got there.

Eventually, the cops showed up. I was relieved to see it was two female cops. This doesn’t mean it’s automatically going to be okay, but it’s a big step in the safer direction. The younger man walked over and quickly explained what happened and the cops told us both to leave and called the older man over to explain that he was wrong and couldn’t do what he was doing.

I could have stayed and decided to press charges against the older man and, despite the fact that he was an upset old man who didn’t speak English, I probably should have. But I needed to get out of that situation as quickly as possible. I didn’t want to deal with the cops. I didn’t want to risk it getting worse for me.

I cried most of the way home. When I walked into the house, I went straight upstairs and curled up in a ball on the bed…which had no sheets on it and had just been sprayed with flea killer stuff.

This could have been a lot worse. I wasn’t physically hit, no hands were placed upon me. The assault part had nothing to do with me being trans. I was able to eventually leave physically unharmed.

But my day yesterday is a perfect example of how our society is not trans-friendly. Being trans means being constantly under attack from every angle. Right from the beginning yesterday, my very identity was under attack. I had my gender and who I am stripped from me. I was forced to explain my very existence to a stranger. I tore myself down to a near suicidal level simply because I’ve been conditioned by our society to pick apart my appearance. And it’s not just the way all women pick themselves apart because of the unfair standards placed on us. That‘s a good day for me. This was picking apart a large and important part of who I am. It wasn’t “am I pretty enough,” it was “do I even look like a woman?”

Misgendering someone is an assault on them. It’s emotionally and mentally destroying. On its own, being held against my will wasn’t the worst part of my day. Without all the other stuff, if I wasn’t trans, I could have handled this situation much better. I wouldn’t have feared for my safety. I wouldn’t have feared the cops. I wouldn’t have gone home in tears and felt violated. But, as a trans person, this was my nightmare. I had no real escape plan. The control over my safety and my situation was taken from me, along with my identity, at a time when my emotional and mental state was already compromised.

Under normal circumstances, I don’t allow myself into situations where my safety is at risk with no clear exit plan. I am constantly aware of my surroundings and how to escape if needed. When I walk down the street alone, I am unapproachable. I make myself cold and uninviting. I keep a straight face with no emotion. I keep my stare focused and aimed down the street. Sometimes, I keep headphones on with either no music or the volume low so as to discourage interaction with me. But I am always listening to everything going on around me. I am watching everything.

The simple state of being transgender and being oneself means a being constantly under attack and constantly torn down. It is terrifying.

40

Amelia teaches Trans 101: How to refer to a trans person’s past

image source: wikiHow

image source: wikiHow

This is something that seems to come up from time to time so I think it’s an important thing to talk about. What’s the best way to talk about a trans person’s past? For example, if you’re telling a story about someone, how should your refer to them? Should you use their chosen name and the pronouns they’ve asked you to use or should you stick with what they went by at the time?

For the most part, 99% of the time, you should never use a trans person’s birth name–or, as some of us often call it, dead name–and you should always stick with the pronouns they’ve asked you to use. There may be a situation in which the person said it’s okay to do otherwise, but unless you’ve been specifically told to deviate from this, you should stick with what you refer to them as now.

First, it’s important to understand they didn’t become who they are the moment they told you their chosen name. And they didn’t become this person because they transitioned, instead, they transitioned because they already were this person. When you’re talking about their past, even though you may not have known them as the person they are now, this is still the person they were. For example, I’ve always been Amelia. I may not have gone by this name in the past, but this was always the person I was inside, even if I was hiding it as much as possible and pretending to be someone else.

The second thing at play here is the fact that it’s never okay to out a trans person. Depending on the company you’re in, it’s possible, perhaps even likely, that not everyone is aware this person is transgender and they would like to keep it that way. While I’m 100% openly transgender, it’s still not okay for someone else to out me. Even if it’s pretty obvious to someone else that I’m trans, no one else has the right to confirm that information. Maybe I don’t want to actually talk about trans stuff at that time. Maybe my safety could be at risk, which is not something anyone else is in a position to evaluate. Maybe there’s just no reason why that person needs to know I’m trans.

It can also create a confusing situation for everyone. This past New Year’s Eve, I was at a party and another guest was telling a story from a few years back that involved me. It’s actually a rather funny story, but the people he was sharing it with had never met me before that night. As he was telling the story, he kept pointing across the room at me while saying things “then HE ran down the hill…” and “the cops caught up to HIM…” (Side note: I didn’t get arrested, but I thought was I going to! Remind me to share this story sometime!) Imagine being a person listening to this story and looking across the room at someone who is very clearly a woman while someone else in the room is referring to her as a man. Don’t you think that’d be a little confusing for them? After that, how would they know what to call me? Needless to say, I was mortified and spent most of the rest of the night hiding in one of the bedrooms crying.

To move back outside of my own life, some trans people choose to live stealth, meaning they are not openly trans. Referring to their past with a different name and a different set of pronouns would take away their ability to continue being stealth. You would be outing them when they very clearly do not want to be outed.

Another thing to consider here, besides name and pronouns, is what it is you’re actually saying. I once had a coworker mention something about how I used to use the men’s room at work to a new employee at our company. This was actually how he found out I’m trans. When you’re talking about someone’s past, you should take care to avoid things that may out them or that may be a bit embarrassing for them now. In addition to the change in which gendered facilities they use, try to be careful when discussing how/who they used to date, what kind of relationships they used to be in, etc. When I was younger, I had a bit of a streaking phase (hey, I was going through some stuff, okay!). Obviously, this isn’t something I’d really like people to associate with me, Amelia, now.

When we’re around our friends, especially people we’ve known for a long time, it can be easy to let something slip out without thinking. This happens every once in a while with friends of mine. Many of them have commented that hanging out with me is the same as it ever was and my having transitioned isn’t something they really think about or that matters to them. So when we’re talking about the past, it’s easy for them to forget certain things may be off-limits to talk about depending on the company we’re in (if it’s just us, anything goes). The key here is to really do your best. If this person is your friend or family member, I would imagine that you wouldn’t want to say anything that makes their life harder.

6

The Power of Pronouns

On Tuesday, I wrote about feeling great and being very happy with where I am with transition related stuff. It was just one of those days where I felt awesome and beautiful. Every time I looked in the mirror, I loved what I saw so much. My confidence was through the roof. Unfortunately, like pretty much everyone else, we have ups and downs with our self-confidence and sometimes things happen that can shake that confidence.

What I looked like yesterday

What I looked like yesterday

After work yesterday, I had to run over to the vet real quick to fill a prescription for our oldest cat since it turns out Hattie, the new one, has intestinal parasites and we need to treat all three of the cats in case she had already spread it. Anyway, I’d been having a reasonably good self-confidence day. I wasn’t looking as good as Tuesday, but I liked the way I looked, cute even. I was rocking some new pants I had gotten over the weekend, my Against Me! shirt, some cute dangly earrings, and a pony tail. I had sort of a rough afternoon thanks to getting sucked into an argument I wasn’t originally a part of, but I was starting to get over it.

It took a little while for them to fill the prescription at the vet and I was chatting with the two receptionists while I was waiting. They asked how Hattie was and everything felt normal. I wasn’t thinking about “how do these people see me?” I was just happy feeling like an average and unremarkable person. They were both being super friendly and I felt totally like they unquestionably saw me the same as any other pet-obsessed woman who walks in their door. Everything was going fine until the one receptionist referred to me as “he.” There was no coming back after that, even when the other receptionist continued to properly gender me.

I’ve written before about how it feels when someone willfully misgenders, but this is a bit different than that. In a lot of ways, it’s actually worse when it’s completely unintentional and the person doesn’t even realize they’re misgendering you. It means when they look at you, they, for whatever reason, see a man. No matter the fact that I have boobs, a woman’s hairstyle, makeup, nails painted, jewelry, and women’s clothes, they still unquestionably see a man. This wasn’t an “I’m not sure what this person is so I’m going to avoid gendering in either direction” confusion, this was a straight up “you’re a man” situation.

Did this person do this on purpose or to hurt me? Nope, not even close. They were incredibly friendly and nice to me, just like they are every other time I’ve been there. This is a person who looked at me and saw nothing but a man.

Another photo of what I looked like yesterday

Another photo of what I looked like yesterday

I’ve gotten to the point where when I look in the mirror, I no longer see a man staring back at me. I see the woman that I am nearly 100% of the time. I may pick out countless features that bother me or look manly to me, but when I just look at me as a whole, I see a woman. When someone else doesn’t see this, it cuts through so much. Am I deluding myself? Do I not really look how I think I do? Is it still that obvious? Are people only humoring me when they do properly gender me? I say it time and time again, but I don’t care about “passing.” I don’t care if people read me as transgender, in fact, I generally prefer that. What I do care about, though, is being seen as a woman. Being misgendered like this tells me that at least some people don’t see me as I see myself and as I want to be seen. It’s very shaking to my confidence in my ability to leave the house and simply live my life as a person without having to be treated as some sort of “other.”

Over the weekend, in addition to #YesAllWomen, there was another hashtag going around. #CisGaze was being used as a way for trans people to sound off about the aggressions, microaggressions, transphobia, and transmisogyny we deal with on a day to day basis. I made a few of submissions myself, among them was this one:

Here’s the thing, misgendering someone is never cool, whether they’re trans or cis, pass or don’t pass, look like your definition of their gender or not, or whether they express themselves femininely, masculinely, or androgynously. It’s just not cool and it hurts. I happen to look very much like a woman and I dress very much like a woman. There is no question when looking at me that I want to be seen as a woman…since, you know, I am a woman.

It may not seem like it’s that big of a deal. What’s it matter what one person says or does without even thinking? They didn’t do it on purpose. There are thousand ways to dismiss it, but it does matter. It’s a constant reminder that the world doesn’t see you as you. It separates you out from the rest of society as saying “you’re different” and “you’re not who you say you are.” “Your gender and your identity are up to my discretion.”

EDIT: I meant to mention this and totally forgot before publishing. If you’re not sure what pronouns to use for someone, ask. Really, this is okay. Just don’t say “hey, are you a man or a woman?” Instead, something like “I’m sorry, I didn’t want to assume, but what pronouns do you use?” works just fine.

50

No, misgendering me is not okay or justifiable. Yes, this is a big deal.

Pronoun Name Tags

Hello Pronouns Stickers from www.storeenvy.com

I’m not going to sugarcoat this one, okay? Are you ready?

It is never okay to misgender me. It is not okay to call me by my birth name. It is not okay to refer to me using masculine pronouns. It is not okay to describe me as being anyone’s son, brother, or husband. It not okay to call me “man,” “dude,” “guy,” “bro,” or anything else of the sort. Nope. Not okay.

This is not negotiable. There is no discussion to be had about this. Just don’t do it, okay? It doesn’t matter if you are talking about the past before I transitioned and was pretending to be a man, it’s still not okay. I always have been and always will be Amelia.

I get it, mistakes happen and you will likely slip at some point. I understand this and I don’t blame you for an honest mistake—just correct yourself without making a big deal about it, no apology necessary. If you’ve known me for a long time, it may take some time to get used to it and undo the muscle memory of referring to me as you used to. This is not what we are talking about. I can tell the difference between an honest mistake and you simply not giving a damn and having no respect for me. And if you’re doing it on purpose or maliciously, yeah, I can definitely tell.

To you, it may not seem like it’s a big deal, but it is a huge deal for me. When you misgender me you are telling me…

You don’t actually see me as a woman

If you are able to look right at me and gender me as a man, you very clearly don’t see me as a woman. I’m sure you have absolutely no issue calling other women by female pronouns, so why am I different? Am I not a woman like they are? Be honest, I’m just a man to you, aren’t I?

Not that it would be at all okay to misgender me if I didn’t, but I even look like a woman. Yeah, I don’t pass 100% (nor do I want to), but I look a heck of a lot more like a woman than I do a man. Even if you still need time to change the way you see me, looking at me should guide you to the right pronouns.

If you are unable or unwilling to see me as a woman, then you are are unable or unwilling to see me as the person I actually am. If this is the case, I am likely going to be unable or unwilling to continue our friendship.

You don’t respect me as a friend, equal, or person 

respecttranspeopleIf you knew me before transition, you should have no trouble understanding how big of a deal it was to come out as transgender. Whether I told you one-on-one or you found out via Facebook, I put my emotional well-being at your mercy. And when I came out to you, I very clearly asked that you refer to me only as Amelia and with female pronouns. I was clear about this. When you do not refer to me as such, you are making it clear you don’t respect me. I told you this was important to me and you ignored that.

Even when you are discussing the past, you are talking about me and I am and always have been a woman. You may have known me by a different name, but that was still me, a woman.

You don’t care what feelings you trigger for me

This is a really big deal for me. When you don’t refer to me as a woman, it’s yet another reminder that the world doesn’t see me as one. It’s a reminder that I’m different from other women. It’s a reminder of a life I didn’t have and the mistakes I made trying to deal with that. It’s a trigger of all the dysphoria I used to feel, how miserable I used to be, and how much I hated myself. It makes me question how I look and whether or not this was worth it. The next time I look in a mirror, I will spend ten minutes picking apart all my flaws and obsessing over the masculine-looking features of my face and body. I look at the size of my hands, feet, and shoulders. I look at my lack of hips or discernible waist. I look at my hairline. I look at my shape of my brow. I look at my giant nose. I look at my Adam’s apple. I look at my long torso and short, stubby legs. I look at all these things and I pick myself apart. Most of these things, I can’t change and the ones I can change require painful and expensive surgery.

On a good day, a really good day, I can shake this pretty quickly. But most days, these feelings linger for hours. Sometimes they linger for days.

When you misgender me, you don’t care that I may end up crying in the bathroom or curled up in a corner somewhere hating myself. Is it your responsibility to walk on eggshells and coddle my emotions? No. But it is your responsibility to not be a dick to your friend, acquaintance, or coworker. Transition isn’t an instant cure-all, these feelings and vulnerabilities don’t just go away. They are still easily triggered. I may not still think about suicide every day, but it still does happen from time to time.

You don’t think what you say matters

Maybe it’s unfortunate for you, but the words you say do matter and how you treat me matters. Maybe I don’t actually care what you think, maybe I do. Either way, your words and actions can still be triggering (see above).

When you refuse to see me as a woman, this isn’t just isolated to an interaction between you and me. It’s actually much bigger than that. When you refer to me as a man and I don’t stop you and correct you, other people think this is okay. They think they can call me a man too and it doesn’t matter. This puts an onus on me to say something and correct you every time. Often, this is difficult to do without making it a big deal, it disrupts conversation, is extremely awkward, and makes me look like a sensitive bitch.

When you don’t care enough to gender me properly, you send a message to other people that it’s okay not to respect transgender people. You are saying it’s not necessary to respect our genders and identities. I don’t blame you for the transphobia in the world, but you are being complacent in it. You are contributing to an attitude and a world that doesn’t think I’m a person.

When you speak of the past and use my birth name and male pronouns, you are confusing others who may not know I’m trans or who may not quite grasp it all. You make it harder for other people to see me as a woman.

You are making light of my transition and what it means to be transgender

When you don’t gender me as I have asked you to, you are indicating to me that you have no idea how difficult transition can be. Transition meant risking my marriage, job, friendships, family, and everything I have. My emotional well-being and life will likely always be on the line. I risk my safety just by leaving the house each day.

Every time I go to the bathroom—which is roughly hourly thanks to my hormones—I spend an extra few minutes “fixing” myself. I make sure my hair looks as good as I can get it, my clothes are sitting on me just right, and my makeup is doing what I need it to. I do this every time and I don’t do it for me. I do it for you. I do it to make it easier for people to see me as a woman.

When you refuse to gender me properly, you are saying none of this matters and it’s not a big deal. You don’t care about how much I used to want to kill myself every day, everything I did to get to where I am now, and what I still have to do and deal with. You may not have noticed, but the world doesn’t exactly accept transgender people much. Every day is a fight for trans people and it’s not easy. If you can’t do this one simple thing, it’s clear to me that you don’t respect our lives.

I’m not asking you for a lot, really. I’m asking for you to refer to me as a woman. That’s it.

You think my identity is yours to define

When you gender me as a man, you’re telling me you don’t respect my right to define my identity. You are telling me my gender and identity are whatever you say they are. I don’t get say over my life and how I live it, instead it’s you who gets to dictate the person I am.

You think it’s okay to out me as transgender to a room full of people

Depending on the setting, it’s possible, maybe even likely, there are other people in the room who don’t know me or know my past. Maybe this is the first time they met me or maybe they’ve met me a couple times, but don’t know anything about my life prior to transition. I know it sounds absurd, but there are some people in this world who don’t know I’m transgender.

When you misgender me, you’re outing me as trans to them. You are taking away my right to control that information to the best of my ability. Maybe I don’t want these people to know. Maybe this isn’t how I want them to find out. Maybe I do want them to know, but I’m not in the mood to field questions at the time. Maybe my wife is with me and I don’t want her to have to field questions. It’s not your right to put me or my wife in that position.

You don’t get to tell people I’m transgender. You have no right to do this and I don’t take it lightly. Do you know how these people will react? Are you sure you’re not putting my physical safety at risk?

I may not pass completely, but I like to think I don’t grossly stand out as transgender in a room full of people (this is a pretty huge privilege I have and I’m extremely grateful for it). Even without you outing me, I may not have any say in the matter, especially if I have to actually open my mouth and take part in conversation. Still, neither you nor I can determine how someone will read me when they look at me. They may not see me as transgender and may, in fact, simply see me as a woman. You have no right to take that away from me.

I have said over and over again, I want people to know I’m transgender. I want to be out, open, and visible about it, but this does not make it okay for you to be the one to out me. I have the right to out myself as I see fit. I also have the right to not out myself if I deem my safety to be at risk or I’m simply not in the mood to deal with being everyone’s ambassador to the transgender community (a role I typically enjoy).

I don’t get to clock out from  being trans, but sometimes I just want to interact with a room full of people like any other woman would. I have that right.

Simply put, gendering me properly is a big deal. 

If you are incapable or unwilling to gender me properly, it tells me a lot about what you think of me and transgender people as a whole. This is a big deal for me and I am not okay with you misgendering me, nor will I listen to your attempts to justify it. It is never okay. Ever.