Sometimes I just want to eat breakfast.
I said this to Dylan in the midst of an intense discussion about whether we need to tell and/or correct everyone about Dylan’s gender. To give a little context, Dylan commented that it made them feel uncomfortable when waiters said things like ‘what can I get you ladies’ and said that in future they plan to correct everyone. This made me think… Is it safe to correct everyone, is it necessary to correct everyone, and do I need to do this too?
Obviously I have told virtually everyone in my life about Dylan’s gender, and consequently I have ‘come out’ in my new identity too. And I plan on telling plenty of people in the future, talking confidently about the third gender, gender neutral, and encouraging society to accept this as a new norm. Clearly this blog is part of that too.
That said, sometimes I just want to have breakfast.. Sometimes I don’t want to have to correct everyone around me, start a conversation that is potentially quite awkward, become the curious thing that happened in someone’s day.
In almost every case I will start this conversation because I support Dylan 100%, and because I am not shying away from the situation, but part of me feels fatigued just thinking about this. I want to know that sometimes, I can just have breakfast.
In addition to this there are obviously people in this world who are not going to accept gender neutral as a valid gender and who are going to act blatantly offensive. At times it will be appropriate and safe to open conversations with these people, but at other times I’m not sure that the discomfort and sense of being ‘unsafe’ will be worth it?
Currently, my hypothetical problem with this is trying to demonstrate to Dylan my full support, by correcting, prompting, reminding all of those around us, but also respecting my self-preservation by not outing them/us at times where it will not be worth it. What I’m trying to work out is if I am being disrespectful by shying away from what could be a ‘teachable moment’, or if it’s ok to do this occasionally. The very practical and self preserving part of myself says that it is not disrespectful if the situation is too uncomfortable or simply isn’t worth it, but I guess it is a case-by-case situation.
Dylan and I have started a conversation about when it is/isn’t worth it many times and so far have yet to finish it. Each time I express my thoughts about when it’s necessary to come out I fear that Dylan thinks I am trying to hide them, push them back into the hypothetical closet. I’m not. I’m just trying to feel safe myself.
My current thought process has us at every location- cafes, restaurants, cinemas, theatres, shopping centres- with Dylan being somehow gendered by those around us and us consequently spouting gender theory to EVERYONE as though we are some of those kerb side preachers using microphones to rant about religion to everyone nearby. And to be honest, who listens to those soapbox preachers anyway?!
I know that this isn’t going to be the case. I know that Dylan is not going to be misgendered at every turn and that we won’t turn every outing into a ‘teachable moment’, but I still want to know that sometimes it will be ok for me to take a break from my soapbox. To just eat breakfast.
In an article I read recently it said that partners of transgender people are often the leading force in terms of name and pronoun changes. This is because it’s not often that you hear your own name and pronoun in conversation, and the person who talks most about you is your partner.
I am happy to lead this. I am happy to remind and correct everyone, and to encourage our community not to gender others as well. In fact, I feel a strong sense of responsibility to do so, both for Dylan as well as for the future gender-neutral people to come. That said, I need to know that it’s ok to occasionally take a break. Not at a critical moment and not at a time that will hurt Dylan, but just sometimes I want to know that it is ok to sit back and not feel I need to be a leading force in promoting gender. Like I said, I feel hypothetically fatigued just thinking about it.
The main issue with the question of coming out is that, although it exposes me also, it is ultimately about Dylan and how they feel. As Dylan has told me before, it is not up to me to decide when it is ‘worth it’ regardless of my feelings of discomfort in the hypothetical situations that we have discussed. I imagine that as time passes Dylan will work out what feels right for them and if there are particular words or situations that definitely do or don’t need to be corrected in order for them to feel completely comfortable and respected. And I, in turn, will follow their lead and try to make the road as smooth as possible for both of us.
My only hope is that our soapboxes and teachable moments stay away from my cafe breakfasts at least occasionally.