CW: transphobia, surgery
I’m five years post-social transition and two years post-surgery, and compared to how things were for me five or ten years ago my life is fairly boring on the gender front. This, it should be noted, is a good thing. There were a few years there where I had so much going on, I look back and I wonder at how I juggled it all. (Spoiler: I dropped balls left and right.)
One of the great things about being where I’m at now in life is not having to think about my gender during all my waking moments. I’m just a woman living her life. But every now and then something pops up and I’m all, “Oh yeah, that gender stuff.”
In the past week I had three things that pinged for me: surgery, transphobia, and the life gap of being raised as and living as a boy, which leaves me naively unexperienced compared to other women my age.
On the surgery front, that’s behind me. But I had a calendar reminder chime the other week for my originally-scheduled surgery date. I remember how I felt that date was so far in the future when I booked it. I was lucky to end up on the standby list and have an opening pop up so soon.
Here in June 2021, I wonder how I would be feeling if it had been my surgical date. How would I have navigated the run-up anxiety of not knowing how Covid would have impacted things? Would I have felt different about having surgery if I had to wait that much longer? Both are unanswerable questions I will set aside for the Heather in that time-split universe to answer.
The transphobia came out of left field and from an unexpected person: my ex. My ex and I are on mostly good terms now and she’s been much better about accidental misgenderings. So it surprised me when she mentioned she was out with friends and referred to me as her “wasband”. It further surprised me when she pushed back on my request to not use the term.
From her perspective, I am her ex-husband. From my perspective, I am her ex who was living as her husband. But since husbands are men, and I’m not and never have been a man, the wasband term misgenders me. Worse, it reinforces in the people’s minds she uses it with that I was a guy, and indirectly implies that I might still be a guy.
She brought up that people infer she’s a lesbian otherwise, and that makes her uncomfortable because she’s not. I decided not to talk about internalized homophobia with her, because I know from experience that makes her uncomfortable, so I stuck to the misgendering aspect.
I pointed out it outs me as people try and square a Heather with an ex-husband, and who knows how much her social network has spread the fact I’m trans. I’m not closeted and I’m not telling everyone I meet I’m trans, but it’s really the principle of the thing.
After some back and forth, she’s agreed to retire the term and refer to me as her ex. I had suggested ex-wife, but that’s a bridge too far for her. I don’t think she really gets she was married to a woman, but I’ll take the win for now.
On the life gap, the dawning realization I’m bi has turned into full daylight, and having never dated men before it’s daunting to know where and how to begin. Having spent a bunch of time around men, I know that even the “good guys” can be absolute shit. Layer on not knowing the dating rituals or signals, and I feel kinda lost in knowing how and where to be trustful and vulnerable. I didn’t have women in my life give me advice about dating men, so I have some serious catching up to do.