As I am getting more connected with trans folks, some of whom are striving to transition and having many challenges, my sharing some experiences will, I hope, prove helpful to them, as well as informative to the rest of you.
On Wednesday, I went to the dentist. This, in itself, is not unusual, as I get my teeth cleaned twice a year. Julie found us a good dental practice, soon after we moved to Indy. I went there last fall and spring. Well, Greg went there.
This week’s visit merits attention because I had to inform them before my appointment that I am transitioning and ask if they are accepting of trans patients.
Once again—as I have been in every situation—I was treated with respect. Yes, the receptionist said, they have trans patients. I told her my new name, informing her that it was not yet my legal name but requesting that it be noted so that I am called Gina and not Greg. She made note of it.
Arriving, as I walked from my car to the door, I noted that I was not nervous. I think the reason is twofold. Thankfully, I am not one who gets nervous. I prepare myself for new and unique situations, which builds my self-confidence. Add to this that I have had ZERO negative experiences since living openly as a female, a few too-long stares being the worst I’ve received. This fills me with joy and, of course, grows my self-confidence.
My entrance was unremarkable. As medical offices so often do, I was asked, again, to fill out a form with my personal info and updated medical history. A few lines into the form, I had my first occasion to hesitate.
Mark one: [ ] Male [ ] Female
I pondered. Well, I’m still legally a male. I marked that box. I went on.
I went back.
That felt wrong. I wrote above the two boxes “transgender.” That was not enough. I X’d the Female box and drew an arrow from Male to Female. There. I was content with that.
The form completed, I waited for someone to call my name, hoping they would request Gina, not wanting to have to rise to a male name as there were a few others in the waiting room.
The door opened. The woman spoke. “Gina?” Whew!
Susan had not cleaned my teeth before. She treated me nicely. When she wanted me to go into another room for a panoramic X-ray, she directed me to remove my glasses, necklace, and earrings. I said, “I just got my ears pierced. May I leave in my earrings?” She said that I could. When she asked how much the piercing hurt, it opened the door to discussing the way more painful electrolysis and laser hair removal I’ve been having for a year.
Back in the chair, she began the cleaning. This is not a good time for a Q & A, but she had a couple of questions which I could answer with few words, and she freed my mouth to answer them. Her questions demonstrated respect for me. That’s all I can ever hope for.
When the dentist came in, I recalled meeting him a year ago. Last year, seeing on my paperwork that I was a retired minister, he asked me a question that had come up in his Bible class. I now reminded him of that and he remembered me. He did not skip a beat, as if it were Gina with whom he had spoken last year. I was very pleased that he treated me the way he had treated Greg.
Just before the dentist entered, the hygienist scheduled my next appointment. In doing that, she double-checked my name. I informed her that, for now, it has to remain as Gregory, until I legally change it. That might have been on her mind when, soon after, she and the dentist were conferring. That’s when I heard it, the thing that always stings. She referred to me as “he.”
Did I correct her? I did not. I have decided that, when folks show me respect, and demonstrate that they are trying to identify me correctly, I will let pass any missteps. I will not make anyone feel badly for misgendering me.
Yes, it bothers me when a person refers to me by male pronouns when only meeting me as Gina. This happens with a few folks at church. In private, I’ve been able to ask a couple of people about it: is it because I don’t pass well enough or do I need to fem-up my voice? They have been emphatic that if I try to speak more female it would sound fake, that my voice is fine, and that I present myself well.
So, what’s up, I ask? No one has an answer.
I must remain the patient patient and church member, and wherever else I find myself hearing “he” and “him” and “his” where I long to hear “she” and “her” and “hers.”
A few weeks ago, I finally went to the post office branch in our new neighborhood. There, the lady who waited on me called me “ma’am.” I virtually bounced as I walked back to my car.
Silly? I hope you don’t think so. To be properly gendered means everything to us, who have struggled with gender dysphoria.
Now, when should I get my name and gender marker legally changed? This is on my mind a lot. Since I feel so good, at peace with myself, I do not see myself returning to the struggle of trying to be male. I have come to accept that I am transgender.
I believe I am in this for the long haul.