Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lessons in transgender language.

There was a tense moment last night, when one of my blogger friends referred to Papi as my wife/hubby.

Apparently, my love dislikes the word 'wife' more than the pronoun 'she'.

oh how we learn something new every day ...

I've actually never called my love a wife, so I didn't know how much it bothered Papi.  We adopted the term 'husbutch' from someone in our community.

It worked for my masculine spouse.

When Papi wanted to change his given name, we searched for a long time to find one that would suit mi esposo.

I found it while I was playing a brain injury game to get my noodle rewired.  It was a game of serving people in a cafeteria, and I had to remember their order, plus their name.

One of the customers had the perfect name, and mi esposo's name change began.

It was easy for me to switch to Papi's new name, because of three reasons;

1) I was the one to find it,
2) I, too, didn't feel mi esposo suited the girly one he was born with, and
3) I didn't know the name would attached to a male transformation.

I mean really, my love is not a 'wife' in any way shape or form.

Ok.  Papi has one feminine attribute.  Have you ever heard a masculine person scream while killing a spider?  You would have to experience it to really know the full affect of it all!

Anyway, back on track!

So, now that I'm venturing back into the closet, mi esposo will be deemed my 'husband'.

I don't like it.  It makes me crawl out of my skin.

A lot of the time, when I have to refer to Papi in conversation, I use 'my spouse'.

I don't like that either, but it's the easiest way to get around it.  From the moment I call Papi 'my spouse' people automatically refer to my love as 'he'.

the invisible femme ...

I flail about with my pronouns and proper labels, while I skirt around the issue of it all, letting people figure it out on their own.

Papi doesn't really want any attention brought to the topic when we're out and about, but in the privacy of our own home, my love is stringent about training me with pronouns and labels that my love wishes to be addressed as.

I'm still not able to say 'he' out loud.  Somehow, writing it here is the only place I don't cringe.

Well, maybe that's not entirely true.  I do flinch when writing it here and I still try very hard to walk around the topic, using labels such as 'Papi', 'my love' and 'mi esposo'.

Something very interesting is happening, however.

Now that I'm hyper aware of pronouns and labels that people like or dislike, I've started becoming free of pronouns all together, even when it comes to strangers.

That's the time when I can use 'they'.  I refused to use that word not too long ago because it is grammatically wrong, but I have started to use it when I'm stuttering about labeling and pronouns.

It's like I have pronoun PTSD, and I don't use any for fear that I will insult someone.

In the queer community, people have become extremely sensitive about labels and pronouns, and some of us are having a hard time catching up.

I'm not a political person.  I'm just a creative person who loves people for their hearts, not their politics or gender.

I really do my best to conform with pronouns/labels in the way people prefer, but I'm human, and sometimes I screw up.

At the same time, I suppose it's my job to pass it on to the next person who's learning about transgender people as well.

My hope is that before I die, I get it flowing comfortably.  Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

I mean really, I have a lot of time to get it down before I expire.  People keep trying to kill me while I'm on the road, but somehow, I keep bouncing back.


  1. "I'm not a political person. I'm just a creative person who loves people for their hearts, not their politics or gender."

    Very well said and my sentiments exactly! Sometimes when in a tricky situation where I am unsure of which pronoun to use - I just ask. Took me some balls (pardon the pun) to do so, but I find the results are less awkward inducing than saying the wrong pronoun.

  2. phaedra, you are brave. it is probably a relief to the person if they're asked, ya know?

    but we're so afraid of insulting. so confusing!!!

    missed you at thurlow today :(

  3. I used "wife/hubby" as whichever you two preferred, not that they were the same or anything.

    Oh well, lesson learned. Some mind, some don't. :P

  4. angela, that's the whole point. everyone likes different titles :)

    i never used 'wife', so i never knew papi's feelings around it.

    we both learned xoxo


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