work

Golden opportunity, missed

Last week at work, I found myself in an extended conversation with one of my colleagues about the work she’s been doing around the fact that her non-binary sibling-in-law will be coming to her family’s xmas stuff this year, and all of the various and sundry terrible responses she has had to push back against. It was the perfect moment for me to come out!

And I didn’t.

By the time I had even processed what was happening and that this was a great moment to come out, I felt like I’d already missed the moment? And I kept floundering around; I did a lot of comparing her family’s responses to mine, but without ever specifying who the non-binary person relevant to my family was.

I’m still torn around coming out at work at all? Like, I know that most people aren’t going to manage to stop misgendering me anyway, and I also know that it will be harder for me to handle it when I know they know better. There are plenty of people who would be great about it though. Heck, last month, when I asked a colleague at another branch about some inconsistencies in the spelling of this person’s name throughout the organization (specifically, in masculine and feminine versions), in addition clarifying the correct spelling, and mentioning that it will be become more consistent pending a legal name change*, my colleague asked me to use the name instead of pronouns where possible as well.

In retrospect, I am also thinking that the colleague with the non-binary sibling-in-law deliberately brought it up because she’s clocked me as enby (I am actually sort of passively out in minor ways at work – my public bio on the web site uses they pronouns, for instance). In any case, I do know I am not alone here, and I know I have allies.

But still, I’m scared, somehow? I think I just don’t know how I want to go about it. I could send out a big organization-wide email blast. I could start with the branch I work at (but how?), and sort of depend on word-of-mouth and/or come out to other people a bit at a time as necessary from there. I could talk to my managers about it first, though that doesn’t seem particularly necessary.

…I could also wait and see what this other colleague of mine does and then ride those coattails, but I suspect that would not be the best approach for a bunch of reasons. And to be honest, I’d probably rather not have to hear what everyone’s responses to that coming out will be, if they are still under the impression that I am cis when that happens. I don’t want them to think I’m a ‘safe’ person to hear whatever shit they need to say, and I just don’t need that in my life generally.

Maybe I’ll make it a new year/new leaf thing? I don’t know why I feel the need to be able to give a “but why are you doing this right now?” justification for it, but I feel less stressed about it when I have one.

Ugh, I dunno. Words of wisdom and/or support are welcome.

 


*I am quite sure this is not a question of organizational policy (as in, this is not a repeat of the fuckery I dealt with in another library system), but rather just that my colleague has decided to wait until the name change comes through before actively asking for the change – right now, the new name spelling only appears in my colleague’s email signature.

New Job, New Bathroom Problems?

So, I’ve managed to finagle myself into a full-time position at my library! It’s at another branch, which is fine by me in general.

It’s interesting getting into a slightly different ‘office’ culture and getting to know the way things work – my new branch is a much larger library – (I went from a “community” library to a “resource” library), and we have probably about three times the staff of the old branch.

This is fine by me as well. There’s advantages and disadvantages I guess, but for the most part I am pretty unconcerned about the differences.

The only thing that threw me off on my first day was when I realized that the staff washrooms at my new place are gendered (as are the public ones, but that is less surprising).

I think long term, this will be fine? I will just get into a habit of which washroom I go to and probably stop thinking about it pretty quickly. Or at least I hope that’s what happens.

What was interesting to me as I tried to process my feelings about it was realizing how out of the ordinary this was for me. It’s been a very long time since I had to deal with gendered washrooms on more than a one-off occasional basis. In fact, the last time I dealt with gendered washrooms at work was a good three and a half years ago (I have had one library job in the meantime that had only gendered options, but it was so part-time that I pretty much never used the washrooms there).

Though I would obviously prefer not to have to deal with this, I do think it will be fine. And this library is due for renovations, too, so I may be able to be an agent of change and get single-occupant or otherwise all-gender washrooms installed.

We shall see.

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!

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 happens when you tell people you’ve changed you name

With the exception of one person (who happened to be the CEO at my old job, unfortunately), the worst kind of response I’ve gotten from anyone about my name change has been a sort of general incomprehension of why anyone would do that. Some people think it’s a weird thing to do, which it kind of is; it’s certainly not the norm, anyway. So I get it when people respond this way, particularly since it hasn’t stopped them from switching over what they call me.

I did have some interesting responses when I officially changed my name at my retail job though.

I was totally floored by how many people’s initial response was along the lines of “Ok… but can I still call you [birthname] though?” This is actually a question that my partner got a lot when they first changed their name, but it didn’t happen to me in my earlier name change efforts, and I wasn’t expecting it to crop up now either – I had chalked up my partner’s experience to the fact that their chosen name is particularly out-of-the-ordinary, and somewhat whimsical in way that made people feel silly or self-conscious using it. I was surprised when I saw that same self-consciousness repeating itself with many of my current coworkers.

I also realized that in many cases, what people meant with the question isn’t so much “ok, but I don’t actually want to do the work required to call you a different name” so much as it is “ok, but I’m afraid this will be hard and I don’t know if I can do it, but also I want us to be cool.” Most people were satisfied and looked relieved when I made it clear that I didn’t expect them to be 100% perfect right away, and I knew that it would take some time for everyone to adjust to the new name, in a way that made it clear that they really had only meant the latter.

I actually had one coworker who went very brazenly with “So, [someone else] just told me you changed your name. I’m going to keep calling you [birthname] though”. My response was a bemused but equally direct “No, you’re not.” And she immediately switched to standard “ok, but I’m probably going to mess up a lot at first; I hope that’s ok” script and we were fine.

I still found these interactions exhausting, though. The extent to which I am expected to soothe people’s anxieties over my name can be overwhelming at times, and I did lose my ability to compassionately respond to these requests one time, and snapped at the dozenth or so person whose immediate response to my name change was a straight-up “But can I still call you [birthname]?” Though, to be clear, what I mean when I say I snapped is that I said “No. I would prefer if you called me Kasey. I know that it will take a while to get used to that, but I do expect you to try.” I was clearly annoyed, and six or seven other people saw the exchange. I felt a little bad about it; it definitely wasn’t that person’s fault and she didn’t deserve the anger she got. But it did have the impact of making everyone else nearby suddenly start taking their efforts to call me Kasey more seriously, so I can’t say I totally regret it, either.

The other interesting question I had to deal with was the matter of my old nickname, which is derivative of my old given name (and thus, of my current last name) – the people who called my the nickname also wanted to know whether that would still be ok. In general, I had always been fond of the nickname, and it was in keeping with other people’s last-name-based nicknames, so I decided I was actually ok with it.

What I’ve found very interesting as an upshot of this, though, is that those people don’t consistently call me by the old nickname. They sometimes slip up and just call me by my old name, but they’ve also worked on calling me Kasey and – here’s the interesting part – without fail, those same people who nicknamed me in the first place have slowly but surely been very naturally transitioning to just calling me Kase. Which, I love! It makes me happy that my new name is starting to feel natural enough that similarly natural shortening is happening. And I love how clear it is that the anxieties of dealing with my name change haven’t hurt the level of camaraderie or the intimacies that I share with these coworkers.

Now I am just in the weird period of people variously improving and backsliding, but otherwise just generally sincerely working and trying to get my name right, until one day not too long from now I’m sure they’ll all have it down. The best thing of all is this should be just about the last time I will ever have to do this with my name, at least on this scale. I am now Kasey everywhere important, and everything else will just be minor housekeeping :)

Changing my name is exhausting, y’all

I somehow keep forgetting to write about this/keep putting it off but my legal name change came through in the mail last month!

I have actually started and scrapped at least half a dozen posts about my name since I won the name battle against my old library job. I have been having weird feelings because, on the heels of that victory, I went back to a previous job, and didn’t tell anyone there about my new name. I just… never got around to it on the first day, or on the next one, and then after a while it got weirder and weirder and I kept putting it off.

Anyway, eventually, I just decided I would wait until I had the certificate in hand; this decision worked for me on a bunch of levels, because it motivated to get the name change application fixed up and sent in once and for all, and because getting the certificate in the mail was an event that would help me avoid “but why didn’t you tell us before now?/why is this suddenly important?” conversations.

And, true to my word, the day after I got the envelope, I stopped procrastinating on telling folks at my retail gig about the change. As soon as I got in to work the next morning, I popped into the office and let the admin folks know about the change. And then I went about letting my actual coworkers know as they turned (I’m always among the first to arrive in the morning).

I adopted a super positive, “hey guys, I’m so excited, you’ll never guess, my legal name change came through in the mail yesterday!” attitude to letting people know, and people generally picked up on the vibe that this was a happy/momentous/celebratory occasion for me. I also have a really pat answer that effectively satisfies anyone wanting to know why the heck would do this, without having to get into my gender etc (I have, since I was in high school, seriously wanted to change my given first name into my last name; I was given my paternal grandmother’s maiden name to carry it on, and I can better do that if it is my last name.)

People have generally been positive and supportive and curious about the actual process of the legal name change. I actually have a lot of things to say about specific kinds of reactions I’ve gotten, and the transition process that is still ongoing as people get used to the change, and as the news is still trickling through to people in other departments, or folks I work with less regularly, but I’m going to hold those for another post.

The whole process has gone just about as smoothly as I could have reasonably hoped (i.e. everyone didn’t just magically start perfectly calling me Kasey all the time, but everyone is trying). And yet.

The thing is, this process is so exhausting for me. I think that’s why I put it off for so long, honestly; because I am, without a doubt, an introvert. And when I got home from work the first day I started telling everyone about my name change, I crashed harder than I have in a very long time. Despite everyone being positive about it. Despite no problems whatsoever. Simply repeating the same, slightly fraught conversation so many times over the course of a day felt like a lot. In part because it is a strangely intimate sort of conversation, talking about your name and why you chose it. And in part just because it is an extra interaction on top of the ones I am accustomed to and can handle.

Since the first day, I have been pretty passive about making sure everyone knows – I know a bunch of people haven’t been told yet, and I’m inconsistent about correcting people when they call me by my birth name (in part simply because sometimes I don’t want to derail attention from the actual work-related concerns they’re dealing with, and in part because each time I need to evaluate whether I have the energy to have that conversation right now, and that in itself is a tiring mental check-in process), but the information is trickling through at its own pace anyway. I have had a few people come to me and apologize because someone just told them, and they wanted to make sure that the only reason they’d still been calling me by my birthname is they hadn’t known yet (because they are all lovely people, when I get right down to it).

But yeah. It’s not an easy thing for an introvert to do, this name changing game.

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.