Misgendering. Ugh. That words sends shutters down the spine of all trans people and their supporters and allies. It’s awkward and uncomfortable for everyone, and sometimes, depending on the situation, is cruel, mean and devastating when it is done with malice and intent. Fortunately for me, the times I have been misgendered have been more towards the former, never been the later, at least so far!! (this is me knocking on wood…). It has always been a slip up by friends or family, and over the past six months has been so rare, I can’t remember that last time it happened.
I did experience and incident however, a few days ago, but it was…different, and very much unexpected. Here’s the context. I was at my accountants office getting my taxes done which is needless to say, always a very disturbing time financially. What I wasn’t aware of is that the accountant that has looked after my taxes for the past number of years, retired. Good for her! So, my file was assigned to a “newbie”, at least to me. I had never met her before. I wasn’t concerned. As long as she is competent, I’m good.
This was my first visit with the firm since my name change, so their records needed to be updated, along with a few other pieces of information. She handled the name changed without blinking an eye. I had done everything that was needed. My name was changed in the system for the Canada Revenue Agency, and with Social Insurance as well, so everything matched up once they corrected my name in their system. Good to go.
She noted I indicated on my preparation paperwork that my marriage status had changed.
“Yes”, I said,”I got divorced.” She asked the date it took effect. I told her. Check. She then asked
“Could you estimate his income for the time we were still married for 2016.”
“Her”, I said. She starred at me.
“Her” I said.
“Oh”, she said. “Sorry”. So I began to work that out in my head and we spoke about the amount and if it made sense, etc, etc.
Then she said,
“What’s his name?”
“Her name”, I said, “is X”. She looked at me again. Then the light went one.
“Oh, right” she said. “Sorry.” Don’t apologize to me I thought…you should be apologizing to her.
It was a bizarre conversation. But it really demonstrated to me how binary society is with respect to gender etc. She was looking at me, and saw a woman sitting across from her. Now she knew that I transitioned, given our name change discussion at the start of the meeting. But her brain seem to be locked in on the visual, so much so that when she asked questions about my partner, her brain said they were male, given I was obviously a woman. So that’s where she went.
Now, some would argue that it’s a bit of a leap extrapolate that process to society in general, particularly with a sample size of one. And I have never, ever heard of that before (which doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen, that just means I haven’t heard of it. But as I tried to to process it, I began to think that this is just another example of how society is so binary in its thinking. That people consciously and unconsciously process events and people in such a fashion as to put them in either binary box. Two sexes, two genders, men attracted to women, women attracted to men etc, etc.
I mean think about it. How many of us have been asked the question when we transition (mtf in this example) “so, does this mean you’re attracted to men now?” There’s where they are at in the whole Transgender topic. It’s kinda sad actually that as a society we perpetuate this, whether intentional or not. Sometimes it is just reflex reactions that need to be “re-wired”. So many battles, so little time.
And another first, another thing to consider. Perfect, just what I need…sigh…