I’m coming here to write this today because I need to get it out so bad. If there is ONE thing you can do to support a transgender person, whether adult or child, use the correct pronouns please! If you’re not sure of what pronouns to use, there is nothing awkward or untoward about asking them, ‘What would you prefer me to call you?’. In fact, that’s extremely polite and will generally be looked upon with happiness.
It’s still only early days yet and I’m sure this may happen in the future a whole heap, but I am starting to get riled, really riled by people using incorrect pronouns when addressing my daughter or speaking with me about my daughter, even if she can’t hear them! It is one of the ultimate offences one can commit against a transgender person and shows me your completely disrespectful attitude. And to do it when speaking to me, well that’s just plain rude.
Today’s little insult was me calling school to let them know that Sun was ill and not coming in today. The school is supportive, don’t get me wrong, and I know mistakes can happen. But come on, Sun has been attending and been referred to as ‘she’ since mid 2016. Here is the basic gist of the conversation.
‘Hi, just letting you know Sun won’t be coming in today if you could please let her teacher know’
‘Oh, is he sick?’
‘Yes, she has a cold’
‘OK, thanks for letting us know. We’ll tell his teacher he won’t be in’
As a parent of a transgender child, and to the transgender person themselves, this is what it feels like…
Everyone, and I mean, everyone, staff, parents, children, knows my child at this school. They do address her by her chosen name. For the most part I do believe they say ‘her’, ‘she’ etc. But sheesh, when I am speaking to you, if I refer to my child as she, I expect the common courtesy for you to do the same.
I have concluded that perhaps should I start referring to the person I’m speaking to by the incorrect gender to see if they feel as respected as I do.
The first week back of school, I had a parent, openly and rudely, ask me in front of all my children ‘and how are all your BOYS?’ Yes, she said it just like that. In front of the school, at pick up time. This parent has known our family for five years. She would have seen my child transition throughout last year for sure, and when looking at Sun these days, you would never refer to her as a boy.
A brief glance towards Sun’s face tell’s me that Sun heard her, and was crestfallen. Luckily for this lady I am not particularly confrontational, and was distracted at the time. I replied ‘Fine’ and went on my way, which in retrospect is likely the best way to respond to these types of people. It wasn’t until I was returning home that my anger set in. How DARE she? If she wanted to talk to me about my children and ask how they are going, she could have come to me and asked. I am VERY open and approachable on this topic. Not the way she did it. The way she said it was to try and get my back up. That was spiteful and who the hell openly offends children like this?
So I’ll leave this here today in the hope that it might help someone else. Yes I was angered, and rightly so in my opinion, but my child is young, no damage was done and I totally understand that mistakes can happen and that some people take longer to come around than others. But out of respect for the person you are addressing, unless you know for sure, don’t specifically gender that person with pronoun use. Ask them. Take lead from the person you are speaking to. Use a sweeping term. Showing other humans respect is not such a big effort, but it can make someones day to know that they are accepted and their choices are valued.