The Soft Sell (Upping the Ante)Posted: February 6, 2014
I’m thinking differently about coming out to more people, lately. Like, I’m starting to plan for it, as opposed to trying to figure out whether it’s something I want to do or not.
Mainly, I’m thinking about telling some people that I’m on testosterone (and what that means in general and what that means for me), and asking them to use male pronouns from now on, when they refer to me. I could go around doing mental gymnastics about this forever. Do I have a right to impose this on others? (yes!) Do I want to? (not sure) Will others take me seriously? (not sure), etc.
I do not generally pass as male. And I’ve been on low-dose testosterone for almost 11 months, and I still don’t pass. And I plan on being on it for the rest of my life without ever really passing as male. This is what I want; I’m right where I want to be. Except, I feel more male than female, inside, and I want that recognized with male pronouns. Also, I just want to be more visible as being non-binary, and the visual/pronoun incongruence suits me. I could go my whole life without anyone guessing I’m on T (I think). I know that I could go my whole life without being seen how I really feel. And that could be said for a lot of people.
I (sort of) came out to my parents in November. I did this at that point only because I was getting married, and pronouns were going to be used, haha. C’s family consistently uses male pronouns for me – that’s how I was introduced, and how they know me. It’s awesome!!!!! My family does not, and I’d never brought it up to them.
So, in preparation of the getting-married day, I told my parents, over dinner, that I don’t feel like I am either gender, and I avoid pronouns when I can because none of them feel right, but when I have to use them, I prefer male pronouns. I said, “So, I wanted to tell you this because other people use male pronouns for me, and I wanted you to know why, so you would know what was going on.” My mom was nodding emphatically the whole time I gave them the spiel. My dad was making eye contact with the TV rather than with me or my mom. I know he heard me, technically, but I know nothing beyond that.
Yesterday, I was talking about coming out, in therapy. And I relayed/reviewed this scene with my parents (’cause we’d already gone over it, at the time it was happening), and my therapist looked surprised and replied, “Oh, I didn’t realize you had given them the soft sell!” And when she said that, all I could do was visualize Soft Cell (see below) and stare at her, confused. It took me a while to register what she was saying. And I was all, Damn! …but, she’s totally right.
My parents do not use male pronouns for me now that I’ve explained this to them. I didn’t ask them to. At this point, I don’t actually expect them to because I haven’t told anyone else within their circles, and even I think that would be too weird and uncomfortable for them. BUT! It has made me decide that I want to tell more family members and then start expecting that they will make the change for me. I know it will be hard and I will feel vulnerable. I know some people probably will be able to just switch with no problem, and some people may never actually do it, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t ask.
As of now, here’s what I’m looking at:
Friends / Community – use male pronouns, I feel understood
C’s family – use male pronouns, I feel understood
Work – use female pronouns, about half know I’m married to a female, they probably all think I am a lesbian
My mom’s side of family – use female pronouns, all know I’m married, they probably think I am a lesbian
My dad’s side of family – use female pronouns, use my birth name, no one knows I’m married, they probably think I’m a lesbian
My mom – uses female pronouns, I feel understood (interestingly), knows I’m on testosterone and how I identify
My dad – uses female pronouns, I don’t know what he thinks
My bro – He’s been living in Turkey for 3 years and I have not had much contact. In the past though, he has used male pronouns, I feel understood.
I think that I have a lot of work to do.