Week 166 – Misgendered to the end

The last person my mom ever misgendered me to was the hospital security guard who came to notarize a durable power of medical attorney listing me as the responsible party. As usual, her misgendering was unintentional. I didn’t correct her because it would soon be moot.

‘Who are you designating?’ he asked.

Gesturing at me, ‘Him,’ she said.

He looked momentarily confused until he connected the dots and then looked embarrassed and awkward. By that point I was used to it. It still sucked. He beat a hasty retreat once done with his task.

My brother and mom’s boyfriend didn’t seem to notice. They stood in opposite corners of the intensive care room lost in their own thoughts. A couple of hours earlier mom had firmly reiterated her decision to a doctor to stop all curative treatments for her lung cancer, emphysema, and pneumonia, saying she was ready to die.

Even though her living will was in order, I had asked to have the power of attorney before she went on the morphine drip that would slip her into death – just in case something went sideways and a decision needed to be made.

The misgendering and deadnaming from my family felt relentless in those last few days of my mom’s life. It made an already emotionally grueling time that much more unpleasant.

In my brother’s defense, it was the first time he’d ever met me as me. He’d been very good in the beginning at catching and correcting himself. As our mom’s situation worsened, discussions with the doctors and nurses shifted into harder conversations and they all started slipping more and more along with fewer self-corrections.

In times of stress we often fall back into deeply laid, predictable grooves of routine, and these people who had known me my entire life defaulted to their memory of who I used to be. Mom had been admitted twelve days prior and the misgendering and deadnaming slowly became worse and more annoying. Each time I’d correct them with, ‘her’, ‘she’, ‘hers’, and, ‘Heather’, and each time they’d apologize.

On the bright side, the hospital staff was always courteous to me, even when they knew I was trans or had come to the realization like the security guard after a misgendering. This turned out to be a huge relief and I never felt like I wasn’t listened to or taken seriously because I was trans.

Even though my mom misgendered me to the end, I know there was no malice behind it and that she loved me. She just never quite made the full cognitive leap to replace the old with the new in her head. For me, it does not take away from the times she introduced me as her daughter to the nurses and didn’t mess up.

Being trans requires making your own cognitive leaps to accept yourself and decide what to do about it. It also asks those around you to make their own leaps. Some will fall short. That’s just how it is.

Mom never fully understood why I transitioned and was resistant to it at first, but she did come around to support and respect me. That meant a lot to me, even though she couldn’t keep my pronouns straight right up to her end.

©Heather Coldstream

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About cistotrans

A Seattle-area trans woman seeking a happy spot to stay at along the path of transition.
This entry was posted in coming out, family, gender transition, health, healthcare, LGBT, observations, personal history, relationships, transgender, transition and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Week 166 – Misgendered to the end

  1. candicejune says:

    What you describe as you siblings come to meet you finally is a worry that i have as well. My folks are in the stage of life that it’s uncertain where they will be from day to day. None of my family has spoken to me since i told them. I’m fearful that i will only get to see my folks when they are become to the last moments of their life, provided I’m informed of such things. For all i know they are ok, or other days not ok.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cistotrans says:

      How the people around us respond to transition varies so much, it’s always hard to know what might happen. I hope that your family contacts you. In my case, I’ve had more than a few people need some time to just think about it before re-engaging with me.

      Best wishes to you.


      • candicejune says:

        Yes thanks, I’ve come to terms with the fact that I’ll just have to wait. For how long i don’t know. In the mean time, I’ll be the best me i can be.


  2. Connie Dee Ingalls says:

    Heather, I am so sorry for your loss. Perhaps, had there been more time for your mom to really get to know you, she’d have transitioned further and closer to your own.

    The 3rd of this month was the 9th anniversary of my mother’s death (from lung cancer, as well). She had known of my “gender issues” for more than fifty years, yet we never even talked about it. I never presented my feminine self to her, in the physical sense, either. Take heart in the fact that you, at least, introduced yourself to your mom. I can tell you that the regrets associated with not doing so can haunt one for years. My mom’s last words, before the morphine took complete control, were “It’s nobody’s fault.” I have chosen to take that to mean we are all doing the best we can with our lives and relationships, and when time runs out there is nothing left but to “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.”

    The 30th of this month will mark the 9th anniversary of my bother’s (my only sibling) death. It was a tough month that year. Like with my mother, I never allowed my brother to really know me. More regrets, but I still pray for forgiveness. Nobody’s at fault.

    Liked by 1 person

    • cistotrans says:

      Thank you Connie, and my heart goes out to you having lost your mom and brother so close in time.

      I have been telling myself I did what I could, but as more time has passed, I have realized I could have done more. I recognize I am fortunate to have met her as me and that helps sustain me.


  3. Pingback: Week 178 – Another emergency room visit | Becoming Me

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