Trans man says: Call me by my name
DEAR READERS » Like all of you, I am curious about how things turn out after I publish a question.
The following letter is a response to a recent question from a college sophomore who signed his letter “Embarrassed.”
DEAR AMY » Last month, I decided to ask you my own question.
As a transgender man, I was confused and embarrassed during the Thanksgiving holiday that my parents persisted in calling me by the female name they assigned to me at birth.
I thought I would let you know how things turned out when I returned home for Christmas.
My experience with gender identity is like this: I was born wearing an itchy, scratchy sweater. I didn’t like it. But I looked around and I saw everyone who looked like me was wearing their sweaters, and I had certainly never heard of anyone taking off or wearing different sweaters. After all, I had been given this! It was a gift!
In high school, I would wake up at 4:30 a.m. to meticulously put on makeup, so I could look feminine enough to feel passable. I was so unhappy.
I began using a masculine nickname. My parents hated it. But to me, it felt right. I finally found a sweater that fit me, and I was ecstatic.
I came out to my parents. Cut my hair short. Began looking and dressing how I wanted. I look like the young man that I am.
During my visits home, my parents have persisted in introducing me to others by my “dead” name.
I don’t think cisgender people can really understand what it feels like to be called the wrong name. I wouldn’t wish this feeling on anyone.
Your advice was to face the issue with compassion and humor. You explained that my parents were also going through a transition, but because they didn’t live in my body, they were experiencing it differently than I was.
This made visiting home for Christmas easier. I could laugh it off, which made other people laugh, and ultimately avoided that awkwardness of correcting people. My go-to phrase now is: “I’m a man, just a soprano.”
When you’re trans, some people seem to act as though you are both the killer and the slain. Helping my family to understand that I have not killed their daughter and sister is one of the hardest things I have to do. But armed with resources, humor and love, they’re slowly starting to realize that their son and brother has always been here — he was just wearing the wrong sweater.
DEAR JUSTIN » Your original question touched me deeply; your generous and helpful response touches me even more.
Your parents did a very good job. They raised a kind and resilient son.
I’m happy to call you by your name.