Monday I started a new job. With a new name. And new pronouns. All I can say is: WOW.
A little less than a year ago, I was faced with a similar situation. A shiny new job, thus the perfect chance to change pronouns. But that opening was quickly shut, either by myself or the circumstances, or both. Regardless, it wasn’t the right time, and I wasn’t ready yet. So I sludged on.
During that year I slowly came into my own, feeling exponentially less comfortable on that side of the binary. Each “she” piled onto the other, pushing me to the brink of implosion, and it became more unbearable each day. We’d go to a meeting and just as the client was uncomfortably fishing for the right pronoun for me (defaulting to my name or to gestures) one of my co-workers would inadvertently “out” me.
Finally, I was passing as me: an ambiguously gendered person. I got a fresh start with every new person I met, and it would inevitably be spoiled within minutes. I felt cheated out of these small victories. The mounting frustration culminated with the increasing validation of my identity I was getting outside of work – at first in several trans conferences, then among friends, perhaps even family.
While I won’t elaborate on exactly why I switched jobs, let’s say that overall, it was not a good fit. “Too corporate” sums it up nicely. Among other issues, certain pesky problems presented themselves, with never a solution near. Moreover, the fact that it was not an environment I felt comfortable coming out in speaks volumes of why it wasn’t the right environment for me.
That’s what it feels like to be called what you want, how you want, when you want; namely, all the time.
Never, not once, did I have to cringe today when somebody mispronounced my awkward sounding not-a-name-but-a-nickname, or used an entirely incorrect pronoun for me, or worse, associated that pronoun with some other gendered phrase, such as “hey girl!” or “little miss” or “sista.” No more worrying what people thought of me, trying to change how they saw me. No more subtle hinting that something else is going on, trying to silently yell that they’re all wrong.
I came in with my whole self. This is me, all of me. It feels so right.
(Now I can worry about actually doing some cool work.)
18 thoughts on “Monday”
I’m cis-female, but I hate phrases like “hey, girl!” or “hey sister!” too. Not on such an existential level like you, but I too don’t want to be reduced to a gender (even if it’s always the correct gender in my case). It’s just unnecessary to use gender to address someone, there are other ways.
(In German we’re lucky: the completely gender neutral plural word “Leute” (people) is used practically exclusively when colloquially addressing groups of people, and for single persons we make do without an explicit form of address, a “du” will have to suffice)
When my co-worker had said “Hey girl” and I told him not to call me that, he replied “what should I call you?” Well, gee, I don’t know, what do you call John over there? Do you call him “hey girl” too? It doesn’t occur to most people that this is completely unnecessary, regardless of your gender. In fact if I were a girl I’d stil be a little insulted, since you are calling attention to my gender when it shouldn’t matter; I’d feel you are not treating me equally, and this is especially important in a male-dominated environment.
That’s so awesome for you! I’m so happy that you’re at a better job that’s more validating for you and your identity. =]
Not just my gender identity, my work/self identity too. I’ve been so happy this week!
i’m stoked for you! yay!
Congrats, Maddox. It’s so wonderful to see you reach this stage in your journey. 🙂
Just curious, but what pronouns did you switch to? Also, did you have to make a request? Thanks for the lovely read. I’m happy for you.
I switched to male pronouns, and I did not have to tell anyone anything (at least not directly). I assume some people had enough information to gather and communicated it to the others; otherwise it just magically happened like that!
That’s wonderful to hear! My work wants to have a company meeting to inform people of my transition. As lucky as I am to have such a supportive place of work, I do not want to put myself on center stage in order to be referred to by all of my colleagues as male. Also, since I am non-binary and genderqueer, I don’t want to be treated differently than I am now, i.e. like “one of the guys.” Again, thank you so much for sharing! I really dig your blog.
I hope it happens in my lifetime that we lose the need to stick labels on people. Not just a politically correct thing, but really lose that need. Don’t the people who do that realize that they could have many labels applied to them as well and not all flattering? Why can’t we just let each other grow in the sun as we wish? What a happy day that would\will be!