The video circulating on social media platforms is that of a transgender woman who is standing in a Gamestop in Albuquerque, New Mexico and obviously distraught and upset with the employee and the other customers in the store. The video shows the woman demanding to be referred to as “ma’am” multiple times after the employee and the customers repeatedly misgender her. She gets visibly upset, makes threats, demands, and swears. But, in the end, she leaves. That’s the gist; you can see it for yourself here:
Is it ok for someone to storm through a store, kick a display, shout obscenities or threaten to meet an employee “out back”? No. Absolutely not. But I have to consider what was going on with this woman to make her get to this level of upset over a stranger misgendering her.
I had to do a little research to find the backstory here. Because, as we all know, not everything we see on the internet is as it seems. I wanted to know what happened BEFORE the cameras started recording. What brought it to this place of anger? What I could find, according to Daily Mail is, the woman came in and purchased an item. Upon the clerk handing her the receipt he called her “sir,” and she got upset. She wanted to return the item she had just purchased because she didn’t feel comfortable spending money in a store where an employee had just deeply insulted her. The clerk offered store credit. You can see in the video that she is noticeably getting more and more agitated with the situation and then starts the explosive responses.
The whole thing makes me so sad. So angry. I have to wonder if she would have escalated to that point if the employee wouldn’t have misgendered her in the first place or if he would have apologized IMMEDIATELY, and not continued to do so time after time following. The employee did apologize a few times. However, are you really “sorry” if you continue to do the very thing you’re apologizing for? Me thinks not.
She is dressed in pink shoes, a grey hoodie, women’s cut tight jeans, and a pink top with long hair and makeup applied. In a world of gender stereotypes, she is unquestionably dressed as a woman.
Why is it ok to misgender someone and then CONTINUE to do so when they have repeatedly corrected you otherwise? I’m not sure I can think of a good excuse here as to what would make that scenario acceptable.
I have seen some horrifying posts about this poor woman. Chastizing her for being angry, making jokes about how she “looks like a man.” I have to say, there are plenty of people who LOOK different, but that doesn’t give you the right to refer to them otherwise. We are told as a society that words like “retard” and “slow,” “tranny” and “fag” are derogatory and hurtful. Hate words. Why is repeated misgendering someone who has already given you the correct term to use not on the same level of insult and disrespect?
Let’s pretend this didn’t have to do with the controversial LGBTQ community. Let’s say, for argument sake; the employee made the HUGE mistake of asking a woman when she is due with her little bundle of joy only to find out that she is not actually pregnant. Would he say it again, and then again? Would the visual of her belly make it IMPOSSIBLE for him to stop saying something about her pending pregnancy despite knowing better? Would the internet be trolling with people demanding that because she looks like she could have a baby in her womb that she must, in fact, be pregnant? My eyes are telling me that you look like you’re carrying a child, so I’m going to call it as I see it because that’s the entitled asshole I am. Would this scenario change the way you think? I should hope so, and then I would venture to challenge you to consider what makes this situation so different?
Besides having a transgender child and fearing every single day about situations like this happening to him one day and my child having to see first-hand how genuinely awful and cruel the world can be, I am sad because I am sure there is so much hurt behind this poor woman’s reaction. I would have to assume based on her level of anger that the furiousness in her voice and the fierceness of her actions comes from dark places. Places where she has spent part (maybe the better part?) of her life trying to get people to SEE HER for who she is. And here she is, in a public place around people she doesn’t even know, and it’s happening to her among strangers. She’s being denied her gender identity.
I can tell you one of the first times we went out after my son cut his hair and picked out a new wardrobe is a day that sticks in my memory as one of the “good days.” We took a trip to the grocery store, and an older man in the checkout line looked at my son and said, “hey little dude, you really like to help your mommy, don’t you?” Moreover, then he looked at me and said, “you are so lucky to have such a helpful SON.” And I agreed. I was lucky. That man made my son’s day, and he didn’t even know it because that moment was the very FIRST time anyone had ever seen my son as a boy and didn’t know any better. And my son could not have been happier about that. When we got to the car, he said to me, “hey, mom! That guy thought I was a boy and he didn’t even know I used to be a girl, isn’t that so COOL??!!”
It was very cool. It gave my son confidence. Showed him that he could be the person he felt inside AND out. And made my son feel comfortable in his own skin for the first time, maybe ever.
So thinking back on that day and how critical that moment was to my son. It paved the way for his path to socially transitioning completely and being confident and brave enough to do so. I think about that, and I feel sad for this woman because based on her reaction and the behaviors and words of the people in the people in the store, it would seem she hasn’t had many experiences like my young child. Instead, she is probably fighting family and friends to accept her for who she is and then, now, she can’t even go to a public place surrounded by strangers without someone reminding her that she was born in the wrong body. How sad is that? What kind of hurt must that feel like? I couldn’t even imagine.
The suicide rate among the trans community that feels unsupported by their loved ones is a staggering number — almost HALF. I have to point that out because it’s situations like these that contribute to this astonishing rate. When you misgender someone you are dismissing their gender identity. According to Gender Confirmation Center, “Misgendering can invalidate a person’s gender identity which can lead to feeling disrespected, alienated, dismissed, and/or dysphoric. It has negative consequences for a person’s self-esteem, mental health, and identity continuity, so it is important.”
I urge the world to start trying to do better. Using words that assume someone’s gender is usually habit, I get that. However, making an effort not to assume gender in the first place would eliminate the hurt and discrimination someone feels by being misgendered. And if you accidentally call someone by the wrong pronoun, APOLOGIZE, and MEAN IT. Don’t follow it up with repeated offenses. If you can’t get it right, don’t use gender identifying language at all.
And let’s stop making comments about how someone looks a certain way they deserve to be identified whatever WE feel is acceptable. It’s not a valid argument.
You probably know someone who is trans, and you may not even know it. Trans people don’t walk around with a sign on their foreheads, they don’t announce it to the world every chance they can get. Hell… some of them do not WANT you to know.
Some live their lives open, willing to answer questions and to educate others because they want people to understand that they ARE. JUST. PEOPLE. Others live stealth, as in, secret. So they aren’t under fire, aren’t questioned, don’t have to explain themselves and can live “safely” (as safe as they can get in a world like ours). Under their clothes they may be someone else, but how would you know? You wouldn’t. Because it’s simply none of your damn business.
You probably know someone who is trans. Maybe she does your hair or nails, maybe she served your dinner at your favorite restaurant last week, maybe he was your barista when you grabbed this morning’s coffee and threw an extra dollar in the tip jar because he was so friendly. Maybe he’s your child’s teacher, or your brother’s boss. Maybe she’s the one who let you slide into the front of the line at the grocery store because you only had one item. A breath of fresh, trans, air.
You probably know someone who is trans, but they haven’t told you yet, or maybe haven’t told anyone because this world we live in is a scary one. And they aren’t sure they are ready to face it, to put themselves out there. To be seen and have to explain because their genitalia has never been a subject of conversation. If someone is living as the gender assigned to them at birth, it would be considered highly inappropriate. But if they were to come out, be open, suddenly that taboo genitalia conversation would be open for discussion. Suddenly, that tasteless and unacceptable topic is no longer inappropriate but almost expected. Apparently, it’s fair game to talk about someone’s penis (or lack their of) if they have expressed they don’t appreciate it. Don’t identify with it.
You probably know someone who is trans. You might love them dearly. They might be your child, your grandson, your sibling, your niece or nephew. They might be the neighbor kid down the street who has played with your children for years and always been a bit “quirky”. You might know them, but they don’t know yet, or they haven’t figured out what these weird feelings and thoughts they are experiencing mean. Not yet. But they will. And when that happens, what then? Will they then no longer be a “person” in your eyes?
Or… maybe it’s you. Maybe you are the one experiencing the dysphoria, the pain, the misunderstanding of why your body and your mind don’t seem to match up. And you don’t know how or where to start, maybe you won’t ever. Or maybe you’re scared.
You probably know someone who is trans but instead of embracing it, opening your mind and allowing your neighbor, friend, niece, or child to live as their TRUE self, you’ve decided to demonize this. Make it ugly, scary, and obscene. Because if it becomes something so disturbing, then maybe you can disassociate this person you love from this “problem” they are having. And maybe the “problem” will go away. But it won’t.
You probably know someone who is trans that you don’t know is in pain. Is suffering every day to be accepted. Whether it be at home, with family, at school, at work, or just on the street. Someone who is struggling to get through the day because their dysphoria is so strong it’s debilitating and it’s causing them so much distress that they have considered ending it all, giving up. Because the idea of going on this way is just too much.
You probably know someone who is trans that is hoping that when you do find out, you’ll look at them as a person as you always did. One who was considerate, loving, respectful, caring, and REAL. Someone who brought you a smile, who made you laugh, you showed you affection and empathy, gave you hope.
You probably know someone who is trans but what you don’t know is that person is the bravest, strongest, most fearless person you’ll probably ever meet. That person has more self-awareness and more compassion BECAUSE of who they are and not despite it. That person would fight just as hard for you or I in our struggles because they know what it is like to be misunderstood, unaccepted, and discriminated against, and yet…. they persisted.
The someone you know who is trans is hoping that when the day comes you will step up, show your support, express your love, and be understanding. Be accepting. Show them that despite who they are, it’s just a part of them and doesn’t define them. They are still a human being. A person who deserves respect, love, and rights just like you and I.
You probably know someone who is trans. What are you going to do about it?
When I brought children into this world, I promised myself, as a parent that I would be their biggest champion in life.
I vowed to be the shoulder to cry, the hand to feed, the kisser of boo-boos, the teller of stories, and the one they could rely on. Always. No matter what.
When my son was only 4 he revealed to me that he is trans. He confided in me that he was living life as a girl, because that’s what he was told he was, but inside…. inside he was someone else. He felt different, he felt wrong. Like his brain and his body didn’t match up but he couldn’t put his finger on it, exactly. At least not until he started communicating all of this to me and we sought help, found professionals and had more and more conversations. It became abundantly clear to me rather fast that my (then) daughter was, in actuality, my trans son.
And he needed my acceptance and support more than anything else.
Learning this “secret” of his didn’t change my role as a parent or an advocate, if anything it magnified it exponentially because now I was the one holding his hand while he navigated where to go from here. Helping him decide on big decisions like hair cuts, a name, pronouns, and who and how to tell his secret to.
Being young, he was off and running once he expressed his true self to me and understood that my love for him didn’t change. He was telling people, confident, and open.
I, on the other hand, was scared.
I was worried about other’s reactions, how I was going to explain this and how I would defend him, because I knew it was inevitable that I would be doing more defending than anything.
I was worried about what kind of parent I was going to look like, despite knowing that the kind of parent I was is exactly who I wanted to be all along.
As things progressed in their natural way for him, I found it harder and harder to find support for myself. I turned to complete strangers to share openly with and they welcomed me with open arms. They became my solace, a group of like-minded parents with similar kids who all just wanted the same thing, to love, support, accept their kids and shield them as much as humanly possible from the terrors of the world.
It was great to have this network to turn to, but it was also very lonely and isolating that the only way I found “my people” was in a cyber world. A world of supporters that didn’t exist in real life.
In real life, things were much different.
I can count on one hand how many close family and friends I can turn to and OPENLY discuss my son. Using the correct language and pronouns, using his chosen name, and talking as if life is absolutely normal, as it should be.
And then… there is the rest of my “support”. My family that I love more than anything in the world, but with whom I have to tread carefully. I have to consider the words I use very carefully.
I have three children. And I can speak freely about two of them. But one of them, the one that happens to be trans, I have to be very cautious and tread carefully with my words, with my expressions, with my stories. I can’t over share or I offend. I can’t leave him out or it’s obvious. If I address the issue head on it becomes an argument. More defending. More explaining. And very little understanding. Even less acceptance.
It’s become the very large elephant in the room. And it’s an awkward room to live in.
It’s very lonely living as an ally to your trans child. Sometimes you feel like you’re speaking to a brick wall, you’re loaded with an arsenal of research and statistics, knowledge and education and you’re ready, willing, and able to share it with whoever will listen because all you want is for your child to be understood. To be accepted and to be treated and SEEN equally among your others, as the person he is, the person he presents as to everyone else in this world.
You want to be able to go to family functions and not get the side-eye or have people bombard you with their opinions on your life, your child, your decisions because as outsiders, they seem to have all of the answers to your very intimate and personal dilemmas.
Being an ally to a young trans child means being the one who has to have the tough conversations. It also means sometimes being the one who has to decide whether or not to sever relationships.
When you’re your child’s ally, his PARENT, you just want people to start coming around to your side of the fence so you can stop toeing the line and start living life to its fullest, like you’re urging your children to do every moment of every day.
Like you promised yourself you would, until it meant you might lose family if you weren’t careful. So you toe. You tread lightly. And you hope that one day they will come around so you can have your relationships back, your life back, and your family back. In a new, better, more authentic way and without censors and boundaries that went up necessarily but not permanently. At least you hope not.
As an ally, you want to be understood, but you also want people to comprehend WHY you are taking the actions and making the tough decisions you are because of the importance to YOU that your child receives a message of unconditional love. Of immense support. Of nothing other than a message from the champion you promised yourself you would be to your children before you knew what kind of champion or advocate they were going to need.
As an ally of a trans kid, and a member of a family you now feel like you’re on the outer skirts of, you get lonely and you wonder if things will ever get better, but you hear stories from your “friends” in your cyber space and you see it IS possible. They’ve done it. And you can too. You will, eventually. At least that’s what you tell yourself.
Until then, you thrive off of watching your child flourish and grow into their true self and seeing them become more and more the person they were meant to be helps the sun burst through some of the gloomiest of days.
Being an ally means being the one I always wanted to be for my child. The one they could rely on and depend on without question. The person that would be their rock and walk down any rough path right beside them.
Being an ally to my son means the world to me. I just sometimes wish others would see how much love, compassion, and understanding it takes not to deal with him…. he’s easy. But to deal (or not deal) with everyone else.
If this piece resonated with you here are a few others I’ve written about my experiences with parenting a young trans child. Good luck to you, moms and dads. You’re doing great <3