Hello – I’m Katy, and I’m a trans woman.
This isn’t something I generally try to hide, or equally try to shout about. I’ve just had my final surgery though, so I’m overly excited about having a vagina and might be shouting about it more than usual. But the point is this: I am a woman; I identify as a woman; I ask to be seen as a woman. I am proud to be a woman and I wouldn’t want to be seen as anything else.
The last week or so has been pretty huge in terms of transgender publicity – exposure or acceptance – whatever you want to call it. With the pubclication of the Vanity Fair cover, and with Caitlyn Jenner striking a pose and looking all kinds of fabulous, it struck a huge blow to society that said:
“We exist; we’re part of your world and we’re proud.”
The cover story has provoked a lot of opinion pieces, especially the ‘Call Me Caitlyn’ cover line. For me, this was a huge victory; it’s amazing for anyone to be able to get to the stage where they’re able to announce to the world who they are and that they feel comfortable with that identity. Seriously, look at the pictures. You can see just how comfortable and confident Caitlyn feels right now. She exudes femininity, and the pictures show that. Sure, they’re professionally shot, and like any magazine cover star, she will be airbrushed to the point of parody, but you can’t airbrush a smile: that shows you just what she was feeling in that moment.
But this spotlight, when it shines, doesn’t just reflect on the mirrorballs; it makes the insects recoil to find protecion from the new and unfamiliar. When your spotlight is pointed at the Kardashians, that spotlight burns brighter and causes bigger lizards to expose themselves and their reactions to the shining new light.
Sadly, when people want to protect themselves from the unknown and unfamiliar, they turn on other people, and you can see articles referring to Caitlyn as “Bruce” or “him”. This is where we have a problem. As I mentioned earlier, I’m trans, but I’m female now. I use she/her as my pronouns, and I expect people to use them for me. My name is Katy, and that’s what I answer to, and that’s what I expect to be called. These things weren’t given to me at birth, I’ve had to go through a journey to get them, which is why they are hugely important to any trans person.
We all accept that, when going through the initial stages of transition, people will find it difficult to get used to the differing terminology, and of course you accept that. People you’ve known for years will take time to get used to the new you, and you let them off, because they apologise when they get it wrong, and you know they mean it. What hurts is the people that deliberately get it wrong and use the former titles as a slur and a perjorative.
The biggest thing that shined through the Caitlyn Jenner media pile was that it was split into two camps. There were ones that saw her for who she is and celebrated this huge step forward, and the other camp; the negative side. These were the ones that chose to refuse to use her preferred terms and this post was started because of a blog post that ended up on my timeline titled:
“Call Him Caitlyn”
Deliberately misgendering someone is probably the most hurtful thing you can do to someone. You’re basically saying: whatever you think doesn’t matter, I will decide how I see you and I will judge you only on what I think. If you’re reading this article, you’ll more than likely identify as man or woman, male or female, whether that’s by birth or by choice. Gender is a huge part of identity, whether we like it or not, so for someone to take that part of you and deviate it from how you view yourself because their decision doesn’t match – it hurts. And when you’ve made it clear you want to be seen a female or a woman, to be called anything else is often a deliberate insult.
What it boils down to is playground bullying. When people want to bully or belittle someone, they take away their control. Calling a trans woman “him” is finding the one part of their identity that they feel the strongest about, and turning it against them. A common comment I saw in the negative articles went along the lines of “I accept his decision, but…”. The fact that they even use “his” or Caitlyn’s former name means they are doing anything but accepting. And when you’re trans, the biggest battle you’ll ever face is acceptance. All anyone wants is respect and we shouldn’t have to beg for it just because we don’t fit the majority.
Luckily the world is changing and things are moving forward. Thankfully, the side that’s growing is the one that shows acceptance, and more importantly respect. If Caitlyn Jenner is the one kicking the down the door, I’m going to be there marching right behind her.
Like what you’re reading? Good news! You can follow us here: