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Monday, 18 August 2008

Wrong Pronouns

In the last week, I've twice experienced old friends using the wrong pronouns in front of a third party. In the first case, I was buying lunch at a counter and my friend said, "she" to the cashier, to refer to me. The cashier stared intently at me for several moments, but was otherwise polite and didn't say anything. It was a bit uncomfortable. Afterwards, my friend apologized profusely.

In the second instance, I was talking with a neighbor that I've spoken with a few times before. My friend (a different one) said, "she. I mean he. Sorry." The neighbor stared at me a few moments, but the conversation carried on. A few minutes later, he said something about "we boys" including me. Later, my friend apologized.

Ok, wrong pronouns happen. I've done it to other people. People will do it to me. It's not the end of the world. I appreciate your effort. I know it's a challenge.

How to deal

When you use the wrong pronoun, correct yourself. You had a moment of space out, so treat it like that. We all misspeak from time to time.

Obviously, I'm not stealth, but I don't want to be out loud and proud every moment of every day. Imagine starting every conversation with every person with "Hi, I'm queer." Like, "Hi, I'm a queer. Can I pay for my meal." "Hi, I'm a queer. I'd like a half pint of Guinness." It would be a bit much. And as weird as straight people are about LGB people, it's a bit more intense with trans folks.

My Bank

Ok, I signed up with my bank, despite witnessing what looked a lot like open racism towards Chinese foreign students. I was disturbed, but it didn't effect me, right? Because a culture of discrimination could never bite my ass. (Attention white people: it will bite your ass.)

I went in over a week ago to change my address. The form I filled out said that I would receive a letter in the mail confirming this. The guy at the desk said it would take 24 hours to go through. He asked for my passport to photocopy. When he got the copy out of the machine, he studied it and frowned, but was polite to me. Until I turned to leave. I could feel him staring after me. As I got out on the street, I could see him, through the window, looking at me like I climbed out of the Black Lagoon.

Obviously, he must have noticed the gender marker on my passport. If I were a stronger person, I would have gone back in and asked if there was a problem, as he seemed to be looking at me as if he wanted to say something. Instead, I felt shitty about myself, lost my passport for a few days, panicked, found it again and wondered why my letter for address change never came.

I went in today to get my automatic rent payments straightened out and discovered that my address was changed. To Berkeley. All of my statements are going to California, which is not really helpful and also not at all what I asked for.

There is some possibility that the bloke that originally took my paperwork thought he was preventing fraud. Somebody came into my bank in California, impersonating me, complete with fake ID, and tried to cash a bogus check. The teller got suspicious and the lady buggered off. The bank got highly concerned, froze the account, and called me to tell me about it. And that's what you do if you think there's fraud.

In this case, the guy pretended to be polite, didn't ask for any other documents or security questions and must have noted that the picture on my passport is obviously me. It has the weird reflective thingees embedded in it, so it's also clearly the photo that came with the passport. In short, he knew that it wasn't fraud and he didn't act like it was fraud. He might have told himself that he suspected fraud when he threw all my documents in the bin, but I highly doubt that he was following the set procedure of the bank. Why would he ignore procedure? Because he knew it didn't apply.

So if bank workers feel empowered to stare at me like a monster and fuck up my bank account metadata on the basis of me being a trannie, you can see why I want you to use the right pronouns. It's my lot in life to have to deal with a certain amount of bullshit, but I'd rather not. And speaking of outing people, why the fuck is there a gender marker on my passport in the first place? It's got my name age and picture. Isn't that enough? Having a legally defined sex is bullshit and it's only practical use is to discriminate against queers. You can't marry that person. You're going to be fucked with every time you go to the airport. It's bullshit.


Nick said...

In a parallel universe, this is the title of the best Wallace and Gromit short ever.

C Hutchins said...

Hahaha. I went to a showing of short trans films this last weekend. This would have been a good inclusion. :)