Thursday, 25 August 2011 01:59

Exploring Gender: Pronouns and Name Changes

Written by  Cael

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I’ve been thinking a lot lately about pronouns and my name change. I understand it is hard at first to change those things in your mind when I’ve spent my whole life being one person, and all of the sudden, I’m another. It’s confusing, and no matter how supportive you are, there will be slip-ups. How do people approach this change though?

Friends can feel many different ways about the pronoun and name change. They can be supportive and work their best to accommodate the change; they can be supportive and not work to accommodate the change; or they can be totally unsupportive (in which case, they aren’t really your friends after all). I can understand these attitudes, for the most part. It is hard to view someone differently when you have spent the time you have known that individual experiencing them in a certain way.

Those friends who rest in the middle category though, I have been struggling with how to approach them, how to say: “This is me, can you please respect that.” I begin to feel like despite the support I receive, I am not being respected because of the seeming lack of effort to accommodate my transition, and I begin to wonder if I’m doing something wrong in how to handle that situation. Generally, I want to make my transition easy for everyone: me, my friends, my family. I don’t want to be confrontational. I don’t want to embarrass anyone or call someone out. I just want to feel like myself, and the more people who can identify me with male pronouns and as Cael, the more I can be that person I am working to be.

So how can an FTM handle this situation? The approaches here are those used by other FTMs I have known: whenever someone uses the wrong pronoun or name, you can gently remind the individual: “Hey, it’s Cael now.” It’s best to say something like this in an off-handed way, not to make a big deal out of it. It is the downplayed approach. Or you can pull someone aside and have a discussion about it, and how it makes you feel. This approach is more of one to use in a situation where you friend just doesn’t really understand how you are feeling about the lack of male pronouns or the proper name. In my experience, sometimes friends are embarrassed in these circumstances, but if they are supportive, they should be willing to try to respect your identity. Most of your friends, you should know well enough to determine which approach will be best for them. If you have any other ideas as to how to approach this situation or any questions you would like me to address in the next post, please comment.

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