Okay, first, many won’t know but the number is five in Tsalagi (Cherokee). Just a tip of the hat to my Tsalagi friends who gave me the name Unega Waya, White Wolf. In the Cherokee tradition, the wolf is seen as a pathfinder and teacher. I guess even after everything I have been through, I still love to teach people and expand their minds. I try to honor my wolf spirit.
In that light, I was trying to decide between two topics. one had to with what are appropriate questions you can ask a transgender person going along with the idea of sexuality, but after listening to my sister-in-law, I thought I would touch on the question of addressing a transgender person.
For many transgender people, it is unfortunate that this doesn’t become a question as many end up separating from their spouses. It is understandable, but unfortunate. I was fortunate in that I married my soul mate. I married an absolutely wonderful angel who has enabled me to take that final step to be my true self. So I am one of those who has to deal with the question, “but what do I call you now?”
My sister-in-law brought this to my attention a week or two ago. She had been talking to someone about me and when she went to address me, she was stuck. She wanted to refer to me as her brother-in-law, but that didn’t seem to fit anymore. My sister’s husband was out the window. My sister’s spouse seems too technical. She was really perplexed over this.
When talking with my wife, we started the discussion as to how we would introduce each other. We ran through the litany of adjectives, spouse, significant other, partner? I don’t think we ever really came to a solution.
Of course, then there is the question that arises, are you lesbians?
That question will be addressed in the next blog, but to get it out and over, we are both a little older than most, so this is really a non-issue. So let’s just move on from that.
That brings us back to relational labels. What is a good label?
I put the question to a lesbian friend but didn’t really get a straight answer. So how should we address each other?
I think because so many people have had to live, or die, in obscurity, this is a whole new frontier. Possibly, we could take examples from the gay and lesbian communities, but then again, maybe a new paradigm needs to come about.
We see for the gender queer, or gender fluid, that they prefer neutral terms like them, their, etc. Yet, those who are transgender often wait a lifetime to be recognized as the person they always believed themselves to be. They go through so much to finally get to where they feel comfortable as who they are. Yet, they can never feel whole. Why?
Well, for one, they can never be referred to as wife or husband, if they stay in a relationship. That title already belongs to their spouse. I guess this is that final piece of normalcy that is elusive. So instead we just take whatever negotiated label everyone feels comfortable with. It is that final frontier, so to speak, that we can never reach.
Look, I know that I will never get to wear a beautiful wedding dress. I know that I will never be someone’s wife, though I think I would have made one hell of one. I would love to have an engagement ring and wedding band. I know that these are just fantasies. So I see a wedding on TV and cry. Oh, my wife will think it is just the hormones. It is that I have missed that whole experience. I will never be proposed to, never have a baby, never know what it is like to have the full experience of maiden and mother because I went straight to crone.
Yes, I will be sad when I see a wedding or a mother giving birth on TV or the movies. Yes, I will struggle with the question of how should people refer to me. However, I also know that without the help, love, and guidance of the wonderful angel I am married to, what I have now, would never have been. If she had not come into my life, I would more than likely be dead by now. That is something I embrace and hold close.
So while people struggle with how they should refer to me. While we struggle with how to introduce each other, just know one thing. I am loved. That is the greatest power and strength in the world. Knowing that, it matters not to me how I am referred to. What matters is that no matter whether I am spouse, lover, wife, husband, or simply significant other, I am loved. Labels be damned.
Though, in truth, y’all, I do prefer she and her. You can even call me partner, since Cindy and I do own a business together.
My heart to your heart, one heart, one spirit.