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Just A Reminder

(Or a PSA, I guess, for newer readers. NOT aimed at anyone in particular; just something that has bugged me on several recent occasions.)

I identify as male. I have done so for at least thirty years, but for most of my life (including my writing career) I presented as physically female, so I don't expect everyone to know. I try to be pretty open and easygoing about it and am generally happy to answer whatever (polite) questions people may have.

I am now in the early stages of FTM transition. Due to my health and financial issues, I don't know how far my transition will go, but I'm doing my best to live as male. For now, mainly because I know I'm nowhere near passing* yet, I'm not picky about pronouns. You can call me "he," "she," "they," "zie,"** or even "it" (though of course you should never call anyone "it" unless they have specifically said you could).

HOWEVER -- and I don't know why this should be any different from the pronouns, only that it is -- I am really bothered by feminine nicknames and forms of address. Please, please, please don't address or refer to me as "lady," "woman," "ma'am," "miss," "sister," "girlie," "Mom" (I only get that one at the vet or in other cat references, as if I'd birthed a litter of kittens), Chris' "wife," or anything else like that. I know you're just being friendly, not meaning to hurt, but it's like sandpaper on my spine. Thank you for respecting this.

*"Passing," in this context, means having other people physically perceive you as the gender you identify with rather than the one you were assigned at birth.

**Gender-neutral pronoun. I'm not crazy about these (zie, hir, etc.), but I'm beginning to see how useful they can be.

Comments

( 54 comments — Leave a comment )
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rikibeth
Jan. 23rd, 2011 02:38 am (UTC)
I will try to remember not to use the Mindy-from-Animaniacs "Ok-lady-love-you-bye-bye!" farewell around you, then, although I do tend to use it pretty indiscriminately wrt gender of recipient.It pretty much only works if you can hear the Mindy voice, anyway. *g*
suzycat
Jan. 23rd, 2011 02:39 am (UTC)
Weirdly, as soon as you announced that you were transitioning I started calling you "he" even in my brain. I always felt it would be nicer to before that, but I found it hard, and so if I ever referred to you - say in conversation about novellists or, particularly, the levee failure/Katrina fallout - I said "Poppy" as much as possible so I could avoid it.

As far as I'm concerned you are a chap.
morbid_curious
Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:19 am (UTC)
I find myself agreeing with suzycat on this one. (Again.) That's pretty much exactly how I felt about it.
chris_walsh
Jan. 23rd, 2011 02:42 am (UTC)
My personal policy is "'It' is the wrong term for something alive." Example: I try to see whether pets are male or female so I can call them "he" or "she" instead of "it."

I'm also a veteran of being identified on sight as female, which slightly blew my mind the couple of times it happened in junior high. (Even got called "Ma'am." This was in Northern Virginia.) Back then I wasn't androgynous so much as indeterminate. Glad I definitely look male now. Hoping you look as much like you want as you can, man.
docbrite
Jan. 23rd, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
TBH, I really feel "it" fits me best at this point, but I won't ask people to use it because it's so frequently used as an ugly, degrading term for trans people. (Also, the Knights of Ni wouldn't like it.)
(no subject) - lyonesse - Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:32 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - chris_walsh - Jan. 24th, 2011 05:48 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - docbrite - Jan. 24th, 2011 07:21 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suzycat - Jan. 26th, 2011 11:57 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cynical_ghost - Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:40 am (UTC) - Expand
tekalynn
Jan. 23rd, 2011 02:47 am (UTC)
Thanks for letting us know. It's important.
kehrli
Jan. 23rd, 2011 02:48 am (UTC)
"It" is a tricky one. I have a friend who prefers "it" and whenever I bring it up in a conversation, I find myself doing a calculation of who I'm talking to, and whether or not they're going to assume I'm being unconscionably rude if I say "it" instead of a pronoun more commonly used to refer to humans.

Typically I end up swallowing the first letter of he/she, so it's kind of a weird, truncated "e" sound.

Who knew that mumbling could be so useful?
leorising1959
Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:02 am (UTC)
Yessir, no problemo. I figure most folks have a right to specify what they want to be called. You want me to call you Colonel Tuna Apricot Ifrit? Done. I think of you as male, anyway, 'cause that's how you identify. Cheers! :D
jeffpalmatier
Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:10 am (UTC)
On the topic of using terms of address that are specific to a person's gender, from a writing perspective, I've noted how a lot of times how people will use the form he/she or s/he when they are talking about a hypothetical person where you don't know what gender they'll be. At least from my neck of the woods, people in actually conversation will use 'they' for such an instance. I'm guessing some argue that's not grammatically correct, but there is precedent for people using a plural pronoun to refer to a single person, such as the royal 'we'.
lyonesse
Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:26 am (UTC)
yessir, & congratulations :)
suzilem
Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:26 am (UTC)
English doesn't seem to have a truly indeterminate singular pronoun. "One" might come closest. This link is the most detailed discussion I found

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gender-neutral_pronoun

"Doc" works for me. :-)
georgiamagnolia
Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:33 am (UTC)
I prefer to think of you as Doc in my head, or as Chris' partner because It is either the hairy cousin on TV or the frightening monster/clown in StephenKingUniverse and while you may or may not be flattered to be associated with Mr. King's literature, that monster has, on more than one night, made me sleep with a light on. *shiver*

Also, in case I never mentioned it, thanks for turning me on to the ONTD_Creepy community, it is pretty cool.

And speaking of Chef, I will be in the city for Mardi Gras and hope to make a pilgramage to visit the Goddess late in the week. (technically I will be in Metairie for Mardi Gras and then in N'Awlins proper after because I don't do the Quarter alone during Mardi Gras, yeah, Imma whimp)

I wish I could offer more than this written support of your transition, but that is the nature of cyber-communication, I guess. I wish you and yours the best, always.
shelleybear
Jan. 23rd, 2011 03:34 am (UTC)
I'm a she, but I have to work at it.
Hence, if someone I don't know get's it wrong in public it's likely because I'm not presenting well enough.
If someone I know gets it wrong multiple times, the bitch comes out.
suzycat
Jan. 23rd, 2011 11:02 am (UTC)
Well that's not very fair. You shouldn't have to try harder than any other woman, really.

I know a biowoman who I was absolutely convinced, before I met her in person, was a transwoman, due to her height, physique, jawline. She's not. Lots of biowomen don't "pass" too well either. The difference is that they (we) just had longer to get used to it, that's all.

It is quite simply RUDE to make assumptions about people's sex or gender in public if one is at all unsure.
(no subject) - shelleybear - Jan. 23rd, 2011 04:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - kaligrrrl - Jan. 23rd, 2011 07:05 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - suzycat - Jan. 23rd, 2011 10:00 pm (UTC) - Expand
cassandraterra
Jan. 23rd, 2011 04:01 am (UTC)
I hate getting ma'maed. I know they don't know but it just irked me to no end. I need baggier clothes. :) But I was sired once and I almost did a little dance right there.

I've been referring you as "Doc" or "Docbrite"...at least in my head or when I talk about you with other people.

I have to say I really look up to you. Knowing that there are other FTM people out there and that they are open about it helps me a lot. Good luck!
kwanboa
Jan. 23rd, 2011 05:24 am (UTC)
You're a guy to me. Ever since you said you were. I hope I've never slipped, but if I have, it's been unintentional. I have referred to you as "she" before in the context of your old writing, though...because that's how folks were used to thinking of you, and how many people still refer to you, although if someone talks to me about you, I will point out that you are transitioning and are in fact male. Dunno how that makes you feel, being referred to as she-in-the-past. If that's bad, I'll stop. Let me know.
cuntishness
Jan. 25th, 2011 09:11 am (UTC)
Ditto this. Doc, Poppy, PZB and he are all used now but when referencing older works, I sometimes fall into the she habit.
isismeow
Jan. 23rd, 2011 05:46 am (UTC)
Well fantastic. Good to know. Yay you! :) Got it.
laplor
Jan. 23rd, 2011 06:06 am (UTC)
I don't think of you as indeterminate. Even though you were mighty pretty as a female, you are male, and thus you are Doc, Poppy Z. Brite, or he.

Your preferance rules on this one, sir.
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