(AKA “I should be doing homework but this really needs to be said and I didn’t stick it in my proposal because it felt like whining and I couldn’t find a proper place to put it but this has got to be out there somewhere.”)
It does. It really does.
It starts the very first time you realize you aren’t “normal,” and you turn to your first person and tell then that maybe, you know, if it’d be ok… Maybe they wouldn’t mind calling you Sam instead of Samantha? Or Joan instead of Joe? Or could they just use your initials, maybe? If it’s not too much trouble? And this person (whoever they are) thinks it’s a game. And they laugh, or they snicker, or they ask you why you would do such a thing. Because Joan is a girl name, and you’re not a girl. Why would you want to be one? So you apologize and laugh it off, but inside you’re not smiling.
And it happens again a couple of years later, when you find your way to the internet and make yourself an account in a kiddy forum and say you’re a boy. Your little display picture is a male anime character or another. And you grow to really like this community, until one day someone finds you out for one way or another. Maybe you were careless and let a friend see the site over your shoulder, and they joined. Maybe you started IMing with someone from the forum and they saw your display photo on your IM system, and it’s of a girl. Maybe you decided to go to a meet-up and everyone realizes you werelying. Because of course you are not who you say you are. So you apologize and laugh it off, and say you were just roleplaying. Or it was a joint account with a friend, and they left. Or you clicked the wrong gender when signing up and didn’t realize until people thought you were that gender and you kept it going because it was funny. But of course you can’t go back to the site now.
Again when you start dressing more androgynous, and when someone genders you the way you feel inside, your friends laugh and assure these people that you are not what you look like. That you really do have a dick. Would this stranger want to see it? ‘Cause they’ll pull it out for you if they have to. Hahaha, isn’t it funny that this person thought you were a girl? And you laugh and you apologize to this other person for looking misleading, but inside you are kicking yourself.
And then you come out. Hesitantly at first. You come out to a couple of close friends, and you say you may be genderqueer, and you don’t really know where you stand, but would they mind calling you “they?” And could they just call you Alex, or Cory, or Logan, which are all gender-neutral? And they say that maybe, I mean, it’s really hard, they’ve always known you as Alice and it’s going to be so super-hard to keep those pronouns straight. Hahahaha get it? Straight? Because you’re not straight if you want to be called Alex. You’re obviously gay or bi or something because straight people don’t switch genders. And you say it’s ok and you know it will take time and you don’t correct them even when they misgender you through the years and they call you the wrong thing in front of new friends or in front of your partners. And you apologize for picking such difficult pronouns and for putting them through this and asking them to switch over.
You apologize when you throw the gender ratios off in class and if only you were a girl you could be divided by gender and both groups would have the same amount of people. But, I mean. You don’t mind being with the girls, right? You understand them! Here, ehm, Rob. We promise we still think of you as a guy. But it will be so much easier if you just do us this favor and let us put you in the girls’ group. And you apologize for putting them through this.
You apologize for holding up the line at a gay club because the bouncers are convinced that your ID is a fake. And when you get out at the end of the night and they’re still there, you ask them why they thought it was fake, since it’s brand-spanking-new and you just got it, with the right name and gender, this past month. And they ask you if you’re trans. Oh, you are? Well, that explains it. It just didn’t look right, you know. The font is too thin.
You apologize when you wear a dress and grow your hair out and wear make-up and they still call you Andrew because it’s so hard for them because you will always be “he” to them.
You apologize for going into the right bathroom.
You apologize for mentioning that not all men have deep voices.
You apologize for knowing about periods.
You apologize for having a period.
You apologize for not having a period.
You apologize for being tall.
You apologize for being short.
You apologize for passing.
You apologize for being read.
You apologize for fucking existing and taking up space that you have no right to because you’re a filthy trans person and should just let cis people go ahead and walk all over you.
You apologize for wanting the same rights everybody else has.
And then? Then you have to apologize for not speaking up, because it’s not like cis people could have guessed that you were having issues with housing, or with pronouns, or with the bathroom, or with surgery, or with anything at all. Because you should be both unnoticed and a banner child. Because you should let everybody know you are here in case you make them uncomfortable, or in case they do something that’s fucked up and that screws you over. Because it’s not like you were supposed to see that. If they had only known you were there, they wouldn’t have done it. But oh my gods stop talking you’re always talking about how hard you have it why aren’t you just thankful about the stuff we’ve given you.
So you apologize for being.
In case any of my friends who are trans are curious, if you feel the need to apologize to me in this way…please don’t. Please smack me upside the head or call bullshit. It’s not your job to educate me, but similarly I don’t want my ignorance to be coddled or blown over. And, y’know, ‘cause I love applicable quotes…