i’ve always heard this expression and never really experienced the reality of it. until this christmas.
my family has long known that i am, well, queer….not just because of my sexual behaviour either. very little that i have been or done in my short fifty five years on the planet has been what they might consider ‘usual’.
since this has always been the way of things, there never seemed to be a secret something that folk had to look the other way about…big sister is out there! no doubt…so no need to avert gaze or mentally avoid a subject.
but this christmas was different.
i’m sure mom had warned those who hadn’t been around zion and i of late about the recent …’changes’ ….altho, she probably didnt frame it as a positive thing…
thus it was that zion bounded into the house in her beautiful dress and went right to the toy room after saying hello.
while i was busy putting the gifts we’d brought under the tree and laying out the food i’d prepared for the meal, my sister judy started to talk about zion, not mentioning the way she was dressed and seemed to be going out of her way to use, ‘he’ when referring to her.
i restated her words with the proper pronoun for a girl. but judy seemed intent on talking on and on about zion, obviously avoiding the obvious, and repeatedly repeating the incorrect pronoun.
it was becoming annoying.
i took off my coat at this point and made sure that she, and everyone else in the room, had ample time to read the message…”my kid’s transgender, if that’s a problem…get some help!”
i didn’t directly address the issue, a family gathering seemed not the place to broach such a controversial subject…instead i continued to insert the correct pronoun in place.
at one point, it became obvious that judy was purposely talking about zion and not taking the hint about the pronouns on purpose…the thing i caught out of the corner of my eye that let me know it for sure, was her glancing at mom as if to say “i told you i wouldn’t call zion a she”.
mom looked back with a look that said, ‘i hope you know what you’re doing’.
at this point zion had come out of the room and was sitting down at the table in the living room with the rest of us. my brothers had quit trying to refer to zion in the third person at all. but even tho zion was right there, and judy could have asked her a question, she kept speaking about her in the third person, addressing her conversation to me…”does ‘he’ have a lot of presents under the tree? what did ‘he’ ask santa for?”….that sort of thing.
at this point it was ridiculous for me to keep correcting her, so i leaned into her ear and said, “zion is transgender and we would appreciate if you could use the proper pronoun when speaking of her”…
i hadn’t whispered, tho i’d spoken it as an aside near her ear…no doubt everyone in the room had heard. judy swallowed hard and said ‘oh’…the room grew suddenly silent…
then zion added, ‘if that’s a problem- get some help’ …and laughed out loud. i joined her in her laughter…and modeled my shirt more obviously…like a clown, dancing around as the elephant in the room disappeared.