Donna caught me by surprise. She said “Stop saying that you’re not taking testosterone because I’m against it. I don’t want to be in that position anymore. Make up your own mind. Do whatever you want.”
It would be nice if Donna had said this lovingly, with the caveat that she will support me whole heartedly. That I will always be her Jamie no matter what path I take. Whether I am butch or trans. That I should do whatever I think is best for me. But that wasn’t exactly what she meant.
The past imperfect: I was thinking about my pronouns. I recently joined a group that starts off every meeting with each person sharing their first name, preferred gender pronouns (PGPs), and answering the question of the week (e.g. who is your favorite cartoon character?).
Most cisgender people have no problem disclosing their pronouns, and resort to the pronouns they were assigned when they were born. Their gender expression is the same as their sex, and both are congruent with their pronouns. It is tidier when everything matches and nothing changes. There is nothing to explain.
I feel trapped when asked to share my PGPs. I can barely say they/them/their. I know I secretly prefer he/him/his, but I won’t say it. It would be a “pronouncement” that I’m transitioning socially. I’m not ready. I may never be ready.
Being asked to state my pronouns makes me feel like I’m “not trans enough.” I hedge my answer. I explain that most of the people in my life, including Donna, use she/her/her, but I prefer they/them/their. I don’t hear the question as “What do you prefer I use when I refer to you?” – I defensively hear the question as “Do you use male pronouns and why not?”
In my mind he/him/his pronouns and testosterone go together like love and marriage. As the song states “you can’t have one without the other” even though I know several exceptions to this rule (butches on low dose testosterone who use female pronouns, and trans guys who have never gone on testosterone and use male pronouns). Name change and top surgery don’t push you over the pronoun cliff unless you choose to jump. Continue reading →