Transgender Talk: The Correct Pronoun Makes a Difference

transgender

Teressa’s note: I wrote this blog post three years ago.  We, as a family, no longer have a problem with Boo’s pronoun (except when referring to Boo as a child – then I sometimes slip).

As I mentioned in my first post about Boo (see Our Transgender Child: Boo’s Story), we are struggling some with referring to Boo as “she.”  After all, I birthed a boy baby and raised a boy child for 18 years.  It’s not that easy to suddenly switch from “he” to “she.”

The system we set up to date has not been working very well.  It was basically the same system we used when we were transitioning away from Boo’s old name.  She would correct us with her new name every time we misspoke.  So we tried that system with pronouns also, but it got to where I was being corrected so often that I started finding ways to avoid using pronouns altogether so as to not have to be corrected so often.

It all hit the fan about a week ago when I was having a conversation in the kitchen with Bud.  Boo was in the livingroom watching TV.  I referred to Boo as “he” and she yelled across the house “SHE”.  Definitely time for a new system.

Mind you we are very careful when we are out in public with Boo and even when we do occasionally mess up we always correct ourselves (and I’m sure the wait staff or cashier thinks we’re insane).  But for every day, around the house we needed to work it out.

I read an article on the PFLAG website in which the author mentions that her son’s gentle correction either during or immediately after a problem, along with his good humor in the situation, went a long way towards making the process easier.  She also relays that a friend of her son’s used the code word “bananas” to correct his friends and family without drawing more attention.

I discussed the situation with Boo and she came up with a unique answer.  She will sign the ASL sign for girl whenever we say “he” instead of “she”.

transgender sign girl
(For more American Sign Language (ASL) resources check out Lifeprint.com)

The important thing for us to remember is to respect Boo’s change and try to honor her wishes.  The important thing for Boo to remember is to be patient with us and try to treat the situation with a sense of humor.

Have you ever been in a similar situation?  If so, how did you handle it?

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One Reply to “Transgender Talk: The Correct Pronoun Makes a Difference”

  1. While still living in Berkeley, I had worked as an election official to help make ends meet. How better than to work 16 hours for $120.00 and deal with a rather snippy general public? Well I had an instance where a young voter was transitioning, she had all of her ID’s both as Mathew and Melissa (I think… I forget)… but the voter registration was still under Matthew’s name. It was a delicate situation, one she just didn’t want to blurt out or have undue attention. For whatever reason, she picked me to assist her with the issue. She was very sweet, and it was clear that she was well on her way to becoming a woman… I would not have guessed. We managed to settle everything quickly, and she was able to cast her vote easily enough. While that situation was certainly unique… it was relatively simple. Since that time, I worked the election with another transitioning young woman… and there were several patients at the dispensary that were traveling down that same path. I was not extremely close to those people, so my time with them was certainly limited… but mistakes happen. I like the way your family has chosen to discreetly handle the situation… patience and a sense of humor are likely to make things easier. Best wishes!

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