Transgender Talk: The Correct Pronoun Makes a Difference

transgender sign girl

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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Transgender Made Simple

transgender

When Boo first told us she was transgender, I thought I knew what that meant.  I have since discovered that the term “transgender” encompasses the entire group of people who consider themselves to be gender variant, in whatever form that may take.

Merriam-Webster defines transgender as:

of, relating to, or being a person (as a transsexual or transvestite) who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person’s sex at birth.

 

transgender symbol
By User:ParaDox – en:User:ParaDox – de:Benutzer:ParaDox (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-2.5 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons
Imagine waking up in the morning, looking in the mirror and not seeing the face or body you expect to see.  You know in your head that you are a woman, but your face and body are that of a man.  How would you feel?  What would you do?  This is a simplified look at what transgender people go through.  It is called gender dysphoria.  This term includes not only people like Boo who were born one gender and think of themselves as another, but also people who are bi-gender (consider themselves both male and female), genderless (don’t identify with either male or female) or gender fluid (male sometimes and female sometimes).  Are you confused yet?

If you have a friend or loved one who is transgender or just want to learn more about what it means to be transgender, I highly recommend the book, Trans Forming Families, by Mary Boenke.  This book is a compilation of true stories, told by transgender people and their families.  The insights in this book helped to make the first year of Boo’s transition easier for us, her family.

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