She looked like a guy in a dress. She actually was a guy in a dress. But she thought of herself as a woman. And so we treated her that way.
This was at one of those university staff pow-wos that fills a day with workshops and discussion groups, plus an hour in the middle for supermarket sandwiches and chocolate chip cookies. And Connie was new to the university; she introduced herself and talked about her duties and her background. She did not talk about her nasal tenor voice, her Adams apple, her stubble, her hipless figure, or her dress.
The phrase is “trans woman:” a “she, her, hers” person. Those were Connie’s chosen pronouns. She is transitioning toward femininity; soon there would be hormones and someday, an operation.
Not all non-standard gender people are transitioning anywhere, though. They’re happy where they are: in between, or outside, the standard sexes. They use different pronouns: ve, ver, and vis. Or xe, xem, and zir. Or a dozen other sets. These days in the world of gender, it’s all about your pronouns-of-choice. They’re putting them in their email footers, along with the phone numbers and street address.
Compared to all this, Connie’s M-to-F transition is dead simple. But still had the damnedest time using Connie’s preferred pronouns. She still sounded like a man, and looked like one. In a dress.
So I was relieved when Connie started hormones. I met with her again after her chest and hips began coming along. They helped me to see her differently. So when I pick up up the phone and hear a man’s voice say, “Hi, this is Connie,” the image of Connie with tits keeps me straight.
Now that Trump’s in the White House, the great American march forward to gender-neutral restrooms is on hold. But college campuses like mine will continue to move forward until everybody, of every gender, can lay claim to a restroom that they can be themselves in.
In the meantime, trans men and trans women have their own points of confusion. Old habits can die hard even after the transition begins.
Rhumba was at the basin in a woman’s restroom recently when a more or less female figure burst from a stall and made for the exit — without washing hands. Another woman entered the now-empty stall; a moment later, Rhumba heard a sharp snort of disgust, follow by a sharp CLACK . The previous occupant had left the toilet seat up.
Okay trans women: I’m learning not to see you as men in dresses. But it’s up to you not to act like them.