Switching jobs (or schools or towns) is probably the best opportunity one gets to make any sort of big change, especially something like name and pronouns. I’ll admit it was relatively easy, though not quite straightforward.
A few people at my new job had already met me a year prior, and were introduced to me with my old name and old pronouns. On top of that, I chose the most awkward time to visibly change my name: during the weeks I was informally interviewing with the team. In the midst of several conversations, all of a sudden my name changed – just like that, smack in the middle of an email thread!
Naturally they noticed, and in a courteously confused manner asked which name I preferred. My answer, as always, failed to clarify the ambiguity. At that point I was still in a grey area, with nobody knowing me or calling me by my new name, yet changing it in every conceivable social profile – Facebook, Twitter, Email, who knows where else.
Throughout the “interview” process (there was no real interview, just a lot of talking with different people on the team) each team member knew me by one – or two – different names. Moreover, what pronouns did they think I used? In other words, what gender did they see me as?
So when I went into my new job last month, I had no clue what to expect. Lo and behold, it was perfect.
Every now and then, my new coworkers slip up. They’ll refer to me as “her” then quickly correct themselves, without extra fanfare. This makes me wonder what exactly was discussed prior to my arrival, “who knows what and how much” sort of stuff.
For the most part they seem to treat me as “one of the guys” or “this dude” or whatever nickname they bestow upon me, which is a first for me. To be honest I quite like it. Oddly enough, a few topics have come up where I felt the need to throw out a subtle reminder that I’m not quite like the others. For instance, while discussing marriage, or immigration, or making babies with my girlfriend. You’d think that last one would be obvious, but I’m either being too subtle, or they’ve quickly forgotten that I’m trans, or they truly don’t know.
I imagine the confusion is a byproduct of my appearance. After all, appearances play a big part in how we perceive others, and I’m still relatively un-masculine, or at best androgynous, looking. Maybe it’s my mannerisms, my speech inflection, generally the way I interact with others. Or it’s due to my uncanny ability to shapeshift.
Either way, I don’t mind the slips. I even embrace them, at times, since they demonstrate that I still inhabit that middle ground, that precarious line of gender ambiguity. Which is exactly where I want to be.
One thought on “Slip and Switch”
I recently switched schools so this has been on my mind. It is definitely surprisingly easy at times and also impressively not—and interesting to see what people do.
Great blog, I’ll definitely have to start looking through the archives, and thanks for the follow!