coming out

“Have you faced any problems or gone through any changes regarding religion?” 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 20

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: Have you faced any problems or gone through any changes regarding religion?

Um, no?

I mean, I am an atheist, so I don’t have a religion to even be potentially be incompatible with my identity or whatever.

I *was* raised Catholic, but my faith started breaking down by the time I was in high school, and was long gone by the time I realized I was genderqueer, so it wasn’t an issue.

Lucky for me, my parents even stopped being Catholic (not just that; I think my mom may actually be atheist also now?) before I came out to them, so religious grounds have not been a part of the tensions involved with that process.

So yeah. That’s all there is to say about that.

Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

How does your gender factor in to your future plans? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge Part 18

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: How does your gender factor in to your future plans?

Gender always factors in my future plans at least to the extent of whether or not I plan to be out about my gender in x, y, or z context, and if so, when. Speaking of which, I am now 2/3 of the way through my probation at my current job, so maybe as soon as a couple of months from now? I am also considering waiting until next year’s Trans Day of Visibility, but that may just be a procrastination tactic on my part. We’ll see?

But yeah. I mean, I feel like I might be harping on this a bit and all (though maybe I am harping more in my head than in writing, so it may bear repeating here after all), but the place where my gender looms largest for me in terms of future plans is around this whole thing where I am really hoping to find someone who wants to raise kids with me.

The thing is that while I am open to a totally platonic arrangement in this regard (and can even see some advantages to such a thing), I also now that most people aren’t. Most people are actually pretty attached to getting their romantic (and sexual) and family-making needs/desires met in one package.

Which means I am thinking a lot about how my gender impacts my current and future date-ability. And it kinda sucks. Trawling OkCupid for people who are open about wanting kids is some depressing shit. I usually keep my searches open to those who set their settings both to “wants kids” and “might want kids”, but the honest truth is that all of the patience I may ever have had for people who might maybe want to have kids at some magical future ‘someday’ got used up a long fucking time ago. When people are in their freaking thirties and still dicking around on “I don’t know. Maybe?” on a question like that, I just fucking can’t. (And I mean, look, I don’t actually mean to criticize you if this describes you. You get to not now what you want, or you get to be unsure about whether it is possible for you fit kids into your life, or whatever else. Just, we would not be compatible right now, because you would make me crazy, is all.)

And then there’s the fact that even the folks who say they want kids are very often straight. I am sure I have no shot with straight women. I do with straight men, but the idea of dating straight dudes gives me pre-emptive dysphoria at this point, to be honest. The risk of being made to feel invisible, incomprehensible, and/or just generally like shit is too high.

And of course, even if I did want to to risk all of that, I know that plenty of folks wouldn’t want to date me anyway because of my gender. or they would want to, but maybe they would make me a secret or misgender me behind my back because they didn’t want to be out about having a trans partner or whatever? I mean, I know a lot of this is useless anxiety-brain speculation, but also these are real things that people do, and I am not even remotely capable of handling that kind of bullshit right now.

In my worst moments, I have honest-to-goodness considered a sort of detransition. If I just say I’m a woman, than my prospects would open up. I could be less difficult, and require less work from potential partners. I could date people who don’t care about social justice, I guess.

Except of course I don’t want any of that. Of course I don’t want to date someone who would not date me if I was honest about who I am. And of fucking course I don’t want to raise kids with someone who doesn’t understand social justice issues.

And even if I was willing to make that many compromises, the thing is that every time I think about it, it is clear to me that I can’t. I can’t go back to pretending to be a woman. It would destroy me.

So here I am.

I kind of got away from the original prompt there, maybe, but anyway, yeah, these are the things I think about when I think about my gender and my future.

Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

How has your family taken it or how might they take it? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 13

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: How has your family taken it or how might they take it?

I find it odd trying to parse my feelings around my family’s response to me coming out to them. The thing is, my immediate nuclear family have all always consistently tried to be good about my queerness, right from when I came out as bisexual a decade ago, to my more recent coming out a couple years ago as genderqueer.

My older brother has been fantastic – I got accidentally outed to him probably a year before I came out to my parents. He for sure doesn’t get it at all, and he continues to be kinda bad at my pronouns (I think, anyway? We don’t live in the same province so it’s hard to really say…), but he has been a major advocate for me with my parents around the whole thing.

I came out to my parents by sending them an email, because I knew this was the sort of coming out that would involve a lot of feels that I figured they might rather have a chance to process before they had to respond to me. I’m quite sure this was the right choice for me, also, because I am terrible at having these kinds of conversations face-to-face.

One of the interesting things about my parents’ response to this email is that even though they really did choose to take a lot of time (and I later learned from my brother, who had to deal with all of their feels (oops)) had a lot of ugly processing stages before I heard anything back from them again, they still criticized me for deciding to come out to them that way rather than in person.

Though that has always been the way with my father at least – whatever method you choose to share bad news with him is always going to be the wrong choice, because that’s one of the ways he can make his feelings into something that’s your fault.

But I digress. My parents have been, mostly, pretty good about the whole thing. The first time I visited home after coming out, my dad insisted on taking me out to lunch one-on-one and said a bunch of reasonably smart stuff that at least indicated he was really trying to understand (and some less great stuff – he specifically chose a restaurant that’s owned by a friend of his, and after his friend popped over to say hi, my dad explained that he hadn’t introduced me to him because he ‘didn’t know what to call me’. Because ‘kid’ is a difficult word to use, you know?) I generally felt ok about it all, though.

Later during that visit, he made it very clear that it had been a struggle for him the entire time not to say terrible things to me about it, and I subsequently learned that the night before I turned up had involved a very ugly shouting match where he said awful stuff and my brother stood up for me in very wonderful ways. More to the point, when my brother was telling me the things he’d said in that ‘conversation’, it became clear that at lunch with my dad he had just repeated verbatim the great stuff my brother had said, so it hadn’t come from him at all.

I haven’t actually spoken to my father at all since that visit (weirdly, for reasons unrelated to the above), so I couldn’t tell you where he’s at with it all now, but I also don’t super care.

My mom, meanwhile, is really doing her best, I think? I’ve seen her a handful of times since the initial coming out, and we have been getting along better than we had been for quite some time. There have been some awkward and occasionally dysphoria-inducing conversations, and she sometimes makes me talk her around the same circle over and over again (which makes me feel like she isn’t listening to me, or that she simply refuses to accept what I’m saying and is trying to trick me into giving her a different answer, though I think she is just really going to need a paradigm shift before she can absorb some of this stuff, and I know that doesn’t come easy.)

My little brother, um, I’m not sure if he knows or not? I haven’t seen him in a long time. I really have no doubt that he’d be just as fiercely in my court as he always has been, in the same way my other brother is, though.

So yeah. My family has its problems, but I don’t think coming out as genderqueer made them any worse, so I guess that means they took it well?

Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

On “ladies”, and not being one

I realized recently that my relationship to the word “ladies” (specifically, my feelings around being included in a group of people being called “ladies”) is a little complicated.

Ideally, generally, I prefer not be called a lady. Because I’m not one. And when someone thinks I am, they are not really seeing me, and that is a uniquely uncomfortable experience.

And mostly, I don’t get called a lady. It happens sometimes if I am out with a lady friend (or someone else who is perceived as such) that wait staff will call us “ladies”. I always cringe inwardly but don’t say anything, because hey, passing short-term relationships like that often aren’t worth it.

Though there is always that little voice in my head that is miffed – how hard is it to just not gender people? “Folks” is an easy enough go to, and more recently I was pleased with a waiter who just called me and a friend “you two” (as in “how are you two doing? Can I get you two anything?”) – it worked very naturally and made me happy.

It also still happens at work. Because I am not out at work (Yet! I swear this will happen though!) I am often lumped in with the “ladies”. And this is where complicated feelings happen.

The thing is, ladies are often awesome people, and it can feel like a compliment be counted as one of them. It all depends on who is saying it really – a waitperson on auto-pilot is just off-handedly misgendering me, but people at work are including me in something pretty great.

To be honest, one of the things I love about working in public libraries is the sheer lack of men. Going to a departmental meeting and being the only person there who isn’t a woman as amazeballs, y’all. My bosses are all women, and the only men working at my branch (though this isn’t true system-wide) are entry-level workers. It is a strange and lovely experience.

And when these amazing people include me among their number, part of me kind of wishes I was one of them.

Of course, I *am* one of them in all the ways that count to me – we are working together to make our library awesome and engage kids and help people with all of their various needs. And I don’t think this will change significantly ifwhen I come out as genderqueer.

So yeah, I don’t know what the point of this is. Just, having mixed feelings about being misgendered is weird, is all, and I felt like writing about it!

I’m curious of other people have had similar feelings?

What have you done or plan to do to socially transition? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 9

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: What have you done or plan to do to socially transition? Pronouns, name, coming out, etc.

I’ve written about most of this stuff pretty extensively as I’ve gone through the transition process, but here’s the cheat sheet:

The first thing I did when I came out as genderqueer was changing my pronouns to they/them. This was an immediate thing that I did at the same time that I told people I am genderqueer.

My initial coming out wave involved sending out a handful of brief group messages to my closest social circles, that were mostly the same, but tailored in minor ways to the groups themselves.

I started changing my name socially more than a year later – as in, I decided I wanted to be called Kasey, and I changed my facebook name and let people know this was my name now.

It was at this point that I decided I could no longer put off coming out to my parents, and so I also sent them a long email explaining the situation re my identity, pronouns, and name, all together.

It wasn’t until a year after that that I changed my name professionally (and as some of you will remember, this was an absurd debacle), and it was another six months before I finalized the legal name change.

At this point, the only question hanging over my head with respect to social transition is whether I will ever decide to come out at work about my gender, and whether I will ask to be referred to as they.

On the one hand, I am in a very secure position as a union employee in a place that recognizes gender identity and expression as a human right (and explicitly acknowledges non-binary identities under that protection). Even if I have problems if/when I decide to come out, I will have nearly invincible back-up.

On the other hand, I have chosen a career in a very public-facing occupation and a great deal of my workday is spent interacting with strangers or near-strangers. So it is unclear whether the effort of coming out at work would be worth the relatively minor reduction in potential day-to-day dysphoria in my work. So for now I am (mostly) content with things as they are.

So, that’s my social transition process!

Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

When did you realize you were Genderqueer? 30-Week Genderqueer Challenge part 6

This post is part of my participation in the 30-day genderqueer challenge, which I have modified to a weekly exercise.

Today’s prompt: When did you realize you were Genderqueer?

Content note: there is some discussion here of grammar policing the singular they, and referring to people a ‘it’.

I don’t have story about a sudden moment where I knew for sure I was genderqueer; it was more of a slow percolating of the idea in my head. I was vaguely aware of the concept of non-binary identities starting from about five years ago, I think. And maybe four years ago or so, a friend of mine started going by singular they, which had a distinct impact on me. It was a bit of a revelation to actually fully comprehend that was something a person could just up and do.

I really liked the idea, in a way that, in retrospect, probably most cisgender people wouldn’t feel. Though at the time I didn’t do anything about it or say anything to anyone about how it made me feel.

Until, one day, I found myself in an argument with an acquaintance of mine (part of an important social circle to me), who was being extremely flippant about the grammatical incorrectness of the singular they, who implied that people who use it are too stupid to understand grammar, and who further suggested that all non-binary people should go by ‘it’, because that is the only grammatically correct singular, neutral pronoun in English.

The argument got very, very ugly. I wound up blocked by the other person everywhere (FINE BY ME, obviously), and it shook me up a lot. I was concerned that other people in that social group might have similar views and realized that it was very important to me, now, suddenly, to find out who my friends were and who would accept me if I called myself genderqueer and admitted that I wanted to be a ‘they’. And so I came out pretty much immediately, to that social group and to all of my other friend groups.

And it was great. Everyone was good about it. I felt great about it. And thus was my openly genderqueer self born!

Catch the rest of my 30-week genderqueer challenge here!

Random bit of heart-warmth

I’ve found it interesting being back at an old job, where I used to refer to my genderqueer partner as my husband, but no longer do so, because they prefer the word partner now. Weirdly(?), lots of people continue to ask after my husband, even while I refer to them as partner. But what’s been kind of endearing to me has been the responses of some of newer co-workers, who didn’t know me in my prior tenure at the place.

They definitely think I’m a closet queer deliberately hiding the gender of my partner when I say “partner” and playing the pronoun game when I call them “they”. And on more than one occasion I have had people go out of their way to tell me stories about this or that gay person they know or are friends with or have been reading about, and to make it very clear that they like and support that person, or that they think it’s so sad that this person they were reading about was treated badly for their sexuality, because that’s just terrible, and they just don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with gay people.

They just want to really clear that it’s ok, and it is safe for me to be out to them. But they also don’t want to impose their assumptions on me explicitly or put me on the spot.

And my heart, it just can’t take the adorableness.

Changing my name at work, Part 4: My Co-Workers!

[Did you miss the beginning of this saga? Go ahead and read about my initial attempt to get my name changed, getting the union to help me out, and my meeting with the CEO.]

So, once I had achieved my victory, got the new name tag, and the email informing everyone of the change had been sent out, I had to actually, like, interact with the people I work with.

Everyone has been truly wonderful.

I should say, a few people actually knew what was going on before I got administrative approval. I have one queer work friend who I kept up-to-date throughout the process. But also, I had another co-worker midway through the process approach me one morning with genuine concern. She said I really hadn’t seemed like my normal cheery self lately and she was worried about me. I gave her a summary of the situation (at the time, I had already contacted the union, but hadn’t yet had the meeting threatening to grieve.) Her first response was just “Oh! So, do want me to start calling you Kasey?” and then she went on to declare that it as obvious that Kasey suits me much better, and started introducing me to our other co-workers (“This is Kasey! Have you met Kasey?”)

It was absurdly sweet.

Most of the responses since the change has been made official have involved some form or another of “I am really going to try to call you Kasey, but I might mess up sometimes. Will you forgive me?” Which, of course I will! Though honestly, I’ve been really impressed at how rarely anyone does slip up. Pretty much immediately, I was being called Kasey at least 90% of the time, by everyone.

But anyway, an assortment of other interactions I’ve had around my name:

One of my managers crossed my old name out on the schedules and wrote my new name in over it, but then thought to ask me whether that was ok – she could just print a clean copy with my name on it, if I didn’t want so much attention drawn to the change; she’s just very against printing extra copies of things if it’s not necessary. I really didn’t mind, but I super appreciated her asking.

One co-worker was surprised I had kept things so quiet – she thought it would have been awesome hilarious if I had just gotten everyone to call me Kasey even while stuck wearing the name tag with my birth name. I told her I honestly hadn’t been far off of doing that, if it had dragged on any longer.

Another co-worker told me she had also changed both her first and last names, as an adult, probably about a decade ago. She told me why she had chosen the names she did, and asked me why I chose mine. It turns out we both changed our last names to a grandmother’s maiden name!

And I had another person walk over to me, hug me, congratulate me, and thank me for being so strong and “giving us all hope”. Because yeah, that is apparently how bad the general relationship between staff and administration is at my work, y’all. Yikes.

Anyway, this is the end of this story for now! Thanks for reading!

Changing my name at work, Part 3: The CEO herself

[Did you miss the beginning of this story? Read about the administration’s initial reaction to my name change request, and what happened when I brought the issue to the union.]

The first thing I did the morning of the meeting scheduled between me, my union rep, the work HR person, and the CEO, was check my email.

As I mentioned last time, this meeting had been scheduled with my union rep the previous day, without anyone from the administration getting in touch with me. I figured that it was possible, though, that they had just emailed my work email about it. I don’t have remote access to the account though, and I hadn’t been working on Thursday, *and* all of the previous correspondence about my name had occurred over my personal email at my request, so I was going to be annoyed if that *was* the case, but I least gave them the benefit of the doubt that they had inefficiently tried to contact me.

They hadn’t.

Whatever. I checked the schedule for the day, and arranged to have one of my co-workers take over for me at the desk while I attended the meeting. And I got to work.

The meeting was to be at 11:30. At 10:50, I got a call from the HR person. She sounded slightly panicked, let me know that the meeting was happening, and also that my boss had changed the schedule to make me available at that time. I went on break later in the day, and found that she had also sent me an email – to both my work and personal addresses – at about 9:45, (still less than two hours before the meeting was scheduled to occur). The email asked that I let her know when I got it.


The thing about my work email is it’s only accessible at one particular work station back-of-house, which is an email access point shared by the entire department, except managers (don’t ask). I check it once per shift, usually first thing, like I had that day. My personal email is not available to me when I’m working. So I’m not sure how the email was meant to reach me, honestly.

Do not doubt for one second that I was pissed that they clearly deliberately put off letting me know about the meeting as long as they could.

Anyway, the meeting:

When the union rep and I walked into the room, I saw a new name tag waiting for me on the table. I mostly ignored it, sat down, and waited for the CEO to speak.

CEO: So, we have a new name tag for you…

Me: I see that.

CEO: And I am going to call you Kasey from now on, instead of [birthname].

It was clear that she expected me to be somehow grateful about this, even though getting her to do so required me to threaten her with a fucking human rights complaint. Like she was just being so nice by finally, after weeks, managing to achieve a level of basic human decency.

Me: Ok. Can you tell me why this took two weeks? [*it was really closer to three at this point, but who’s counting?]

CEO: Waffles a bunch and vaguely mentions “processing time”.

Me: It only took you one day to tell me ‘no’.

CEO: Waffles some more and vaguely mentions “communication” problems and more about “processing”.

So, it was also clear that she was not going to admit any wrong-doing.

Me: I think you owe me an apology.

CEO: *deer in headlights*

I don’t remember exactly what she said, but it amounted to asking me why she should apologize. I don’t know why I didn’t just stare at her and say “seriously? You violate my human rights repeatedly and then don’t know what you should apologize for?” Anyway, I went with:

Me: I told you this [wearing a name tag with my birthname on it] was hurting me, and you told me to just keep doing it.

CEO: Waffles a bit more, talks vaguely about how her intent was never to hurt me, “that’s not what we do here”, and eventually “so I apologize for that”.

Me: Thank you. I’d also like for an email to be sent out letting everyone know about my new name.

CEO: *clearly doesn’t want to do it. Also seems weirdly, but genuinely, confused by the request?* You don’t just want to introduce yourself?

Me: I’m not particularly interested in repeating the same conversation 50 times if I can avoid it, no.

CEO: …

Me: …Something kind of like the emails that get sent out introducing new employees?

CEO: Um, ok. We can get [person who sends out those emails] to do that.

Me: Ok, good.

Union Rep: While we’re in an accommodating mood, can I get my tag changed to [shortened version of his name]. I don’t know who started calling me [long version] around here, but it’s not what I go by.

CEO: …um, yes. We can just change that.

I left around this point, though they asked the union rep to stay behind for a bit.

I started wearing the new name tag immediately. And (to their credit, I guess?) the email announcing my name change went out about a half an hour later.

Read on to the final part of this story: my co-workers reactions!

Changing my name at work, Part 2: The Union

So, after work tried to pull their weird appeal-to-authority intimidation tactic to make me put up and shut up on being continually birthnamed, it was clear I couldn’t make any more head-way on my own. I needed backup!

So, this is also the point in the story where I have to acknowledge how incredibly fortunate and privileged I am in a couple of ways, which were what made this entire process doable for me:

  1. I am working in a unionized environment. As a contract worker, I am not actually a union member, and I am not protected by provisions in the collective bargaining agreement. But, the one thing the union can do for me is represent me on human rights issues. Which brings me to my second source of privilege.
  2. I live in Ontario. And the Ontario Human Rights Code contains provisions protecting folk from discrimination based on gender identity and expression. It’s actually even better than that, though.

    The OHRC actually explicitly defines “trans or transgender” as umbrella terms that “includes but is not limited to people who identify as transgender, trans woman (male-to-female), trans man (female-to-male), transsexual, cross-dresser, gender non-conforming, gender variant or gender queer.” The section on gender expression explicitly notes that “A person’s chosen name and pronoun are also common ways of expressing gender.” And finally, we learn that “Discrimination happens when a person experiences negative treatment or impact, intentional or not, because of their gender identity or gender expression.”

    It’s an obvious slam dunk, is what I’m saying.

So, after receiving the final “this issue is now closed” denial from the CEO, I fired off an email to my union representative, with a brief summary of the situation, plus the entire email thread up to the point.

And let me tell you, this person is pretty much my hero now. You don’t even know.

Less than half an hour after I got in touch (at approximately 6:30 on a Tuesday, for the record), he responded. The response started “Thank you for getting in touch with me Kasey”, which in and of itself was an incredible relief after the way my work had been persisting in responding to my emails by calling me by my birthname, even while I signed mine off as Kasey.

He immediately explained the situation regarding the limitations of what the union could help me with, but said this definitely sounded like a human rights issue. He also asked for clarification about the dysphoria I had referenced in my emails both to him and to the employer, and asked whether I had a medical diagnosis.

I confirmed that I was talking about gender-related dysphoria, and told him I am a transgender person of the genderqueer variety. I explained that I don’t have any related medical diagnosis because I don’t consider my gender to be a disorder, and have no interest in having it diagnosed as such.

He responded, *apologized for his ignorance* (which I found inexpressibly charming?), and asked if he could forward me emails to CUPE National. I agreed.

Within two hours, (again, well after office hours on a Tuesday!) the union had agreed to back me on the case.

So, under my union rep’s advice, I made an appointment a few days later to speak to the HR person about their decision in the matter of my name. He went to the meeting with me, and it was honestly awesome.

We walked into the room, and as I was sitting down the HR person, looked at me union rep and said “I wasn’t informed you would be here.”

Union Rep: “Well, you shouldn’t be surprised. We have a human rights issue here”

HR person, taken aback now: “…I’ll inform [the CEO].”

At this point, the union rep stood up and walked out, so I went with him. In the hallway outside, he said we should give the employer three days to respond, and after that we would file the official grievance if necessary, but that he expected they would just capitulate.

He also thanked me for being brave enough to do this. I just about could have cried.

This was Thursday the 25th. Three business days passed without any word. At the end of Tuesday the 30th, I got in touch with the union rep to ask what the next steps. The following day was Canada Day, so nothing was going to happen then, but he said that if we heard nothing from the employer (or if we heard another no) on Thursday, he would file the grievance.

They got in touch with him on Thursday to set up a meeting for me, him, the HR person, and the CEO on Friday morning. They did not contact me at all, and I only heard about it on Thursday from my union rep. The meeting was during my regularly scheduled shift, though, so it was no trouble for me to be there.

Read on to part 3: the meeting!