So, I have some family that is resistant to using my pronouns and calling me Justice; instead using my birth name and pronouns.
While most of you will find it hard to believe that I have a hard (almost impossible) time speaking up when they are misgendering me and deadnaming me, what with how outspoken, visible, and how much of an advocate I am for myself and others…this is one of the hardest things that I have come up against.
Why, you may ask?
Simply put, when my family is doing this, it brings me right back to that moment when I was 3 or 4 and first wore a dress. No, not the euphoria I felt at finally feeling comfortable in my own skin, but my siblings laughing at their perception of it being so ridiculous. It told me IMMEDIATELY that me going outside of gender norms was wrong, ludicrous, and something to be mocked.
I doubt that my siblings (3 and 6 years older than me, respectively) thought much about it, have since, or that it affected them in the slightest. They may not even remember it. Why should they? It wasn’t a crucial moment for them and their development (or lack thereof) like it was for me.
But what it did was tell me that going outside of predetermined gender roles and identity would mean that I would be mocked, laughed at, and ridiculed. In addition, that even daring to experiment with it with anyone besides myself in the area would lead to feelings of worthlessness, so why even try.
It told the budding, confused, and vulnerable little girl inside that she was broken, wrong, and shouldn’t exist, and if she dared to, she would be faced with controversy and pain. So, why even bother trying?
I took that memory (and a lot of others that may have made me face my gender identity sooner) and buried it for a long time. It is only in the last few months that I even remembered that this occurred. What it tells me is that I KNEW who I was at 4 years old, and was told that it was wrong and I had to hide it in order to be accepted in my family and in the world at large.
I grew up in a small, rural, and conservative farming community. I met my first gay person at 14 years old (knew him prior to this, but that was when he came out to me), but I didn’t know that Trans people even existed until I was well into my 20s.
Had I been allowed to experiment with my gender growing up, I am fairly certain of a couple of things, because of reflections on my life and some of the things that my family has said and done since I came out to them.
First, that I might not gone through the pain and trauma that I put myself through trying to bury who I was.
Second, that my family would not have known what to do, and might have done some hurtful things out of love to “prove,” that I was not trans, and that I was simply confused.
I am a trans woman today, as much as I was a trans girl on that day so many years ago. I simply finally was in enough existential, emotional, and spiritual pain to finally allow myself to look at myself, in a way that I was immediately told was wrong.
So, when my family doesn’t use my name and pronouns, it tells me a couple of things.
That I am not worthy of their respect or love unless I am the person that they see me as. It also tells me that they don’t truly see or hear me, just like they didn’t see me that day so many years ago.
I may never have the strength to tell them that enough is enough, and if they negate my identity and existence any longer, they won’t have the privilege of having me in their lives, but that breaking point is getting closer and closer every time they call me he and my deadname.
I don’t want to have to do that, but every time I hear it, that moment gets closer and closer, and harder and harder not to make a reality.
I get that they are having to come to terms with me being their daughter and sister, where before (as far as they knew), I was their son and brother…but I can only take so much more refusal to even try.
I hope that this is simply a bad chapter in my story, that I can look back on when reflecting about how things were, but I truly don’t know what the resolution of this will be.
– Justice Faye Dazzle