Monday, February 24, 2014

Totally Random

It's been quite a while.

I followed a LINK today, to try to learn something more about using appropriate language with people who are not me. I finished the article, read the comments, and ended up more confused than ever. I still don't know what to call people who aren't me. Over the last year, I've learned that the label I put on myself isn't appropriate - it has to be prefaced. So if I don't know what to call myself, how am I supposed to know what to call everyone else?

This link was specifically about gender-identity and sexuality (I think - I honestly don't even know what to call it anymore), and how using a word - the example was "tranny" - can be damaging to a person, reinforcing years of verbal or other abuse.

I don't intentionally use labels to denigrate other people. I do have labels in my head that until they are pointed out to me, I don't read them as insulting. To me, who grew up in a family full of mechanics, a tranny is a piece of a car - a damn expensive piece of a car. I've never used the word to describe a person, but I have been told to stop using it, because it offends people. How? I'm not using it to describe people.
Specifically, I'm learning this because I'm personally affected by it - someone I know is dealing with this issue on a daily basis, and yet, I still don't understand it. Really, I am not afraid to say that I don't get it. I can't understand it, can't even empathize. I've never been uncomfortable in my own body - the kind of uncomfortable that makes surgery or a lifetime of drug-therapy a viable option. At most, I've wondered how much easier camping or road trips would be if I could whip out my penis and pee in a bush or off the side of the road. Still, I've never wanted to be a man.
What I can do is ACCEPT that you are presenting yourself to me as what you wish to be. You present to me as female, and unless you tell me otherwise, that's what you are. Same goes if you present as male. I don't go looking for subtle signs that you are just pretending. If you want to share that part of your journey with me, I will be as welcoming as I know how to be, up to my limits. I'm not afraid to say, "Okay, I've reached the point where I need to go away and process before I can take more input." That's not about you, about me thinking there's something wrong with you, it's about how my mind works.
According to the new labels, being born in a female body and feeling female makes me cis-female. I looked it up, because I needed to understand where the prefix came from in order to use it. Yes, I'm weird. The cis prefix is 'near' or 'in the vicinity of' making me near-female or in-the-vicinity-of-female? Except I'm not. I AM a female. I'm a girl. A woman. A female. A bitch, even. A cranky, curmudgeonly, twisted and deviant woman on the verge of fifty. I don't know how to respond when someone says, "Oh, you're cis-female," except to say, "No. I'm female. There's no cis about it." Why is that wrong?
Does anyone else understand this enough to talk me through it? I'm willing to learn new things. I just need more than "Oh, this is the new way to say it, but I can't explain it, it just is," to internalize it, to make it stick.