On Wednesday, I had a laser appointment for my face. It was my fourth appointment, and I have been seeing good progress to this point. In fact, I look forward to each new treatment as it means I am a step closer to eliminating the shadow on my face that never seems to go away. Makeup goes a long way for me, but it’s so hard to hide the male shadow. So annoying.
The office I got to for my treatments is actually a plastic surgeon’s office. They have always been very respectful of me, and have treated me well. I present female to these appointments as part of my real life experience efforts. No issues. They even sometimes feminize my male name without asking. I have come to treat this office as a protected space.
At this past treatment, I had a new technician. Everything went well through the process. She was respectful and talked with me the whole time. At the end of the treatment, we walked up to the front desk, and the technician started talking to the receptionist about my next appointment and how I should receive a free treatment in the future because of a technical issue. The problem: While I was no more than three feet away, she used male pronouns to describe me and my face. I was dressed in a lace tank top and a black pencil skirt. I am stuffed to a B cup. Clearly, I was presenting as a female, as I had always done in this office. Yet, the tech chose to use “he” and “his” while standing directly in front of me.
I didn’t say anything in the moment. I politely scheduled my next appointment with the receptionist and left the office. But I sat in the parking lot for 20 minutes, and I could not shake how bothered I was by this clear misgendering in my direct presence. Generally, “he” and “his” don’t bother me because in most aspects of my life, I present male, and I do not expect others to identify me a transgender. But in this instance, I was clearly presenting as a female. Being transgender is the reason I was in the office in the first place. I wouldn’t have necessarily considered laser hair removal if not for transition, even though I would totally be happy losing the scratchiness even if I stayed male.
After sitting there stewing over what happened, I decided to call the office to inform them how uncomfortable I was leaving the office. The receptionist apologized and said the office manager would call me back the next day. An hour later, the technician, herself, called me to apologize.
The whole incident weighed heavily on me for the rest of the day, and it still bothers me a day later. This is the first time I have been misgendered in such an obvious way. Sure, people on the periphery that I don’t realize might stare or snicker privately or out of my earshot. But never before has it been so blatant and obvious to me. Considering I’ve been still technically on the fence about whether to consider a full-time transition and whether or not living as a woman is right for me, the fact that I am so bothered by being referred to as a male is resonating in a big way.
Why is it bothering me so much? Is it a signal that choosing womanhood really is what I want? Have I actually made the decision but refuse to accept it? My wife recently asked me how sure I am that I will become a woman. I said 90-95% (when forced to give an arbitrary percentage). What’s left? Why am I holding back, and does an incident like this along with my natural reaction indicate where I should be headed? I spent a lot of time in my head over this, and of course, there is no answer there. The answers lie in my heart. Once my head and heart align, I should hopefully be able to accept my path.
Now I have a real taste of some of the hardships of transition outside of the struggles I face at home. I have had very positive experiences to this point, which have made things maybe a little too easy. Most people are accepting of me. Encouraging even. This incident was a wake-up call that not only woke me up to the real hardships of the transition journey, but also to the fact that I may need to finally accept that I am a transgender woman that needs to get off the fence and deal with the consequences I fear so much.