Trans people are people and not some abstract concept

Back in high school and college and graduate school we knew people who were trans women, or, in the case of high school, would realize that they were trans women once they had the vocabulary to know such a thing existed. I don’t think we knew any out trans men– I’m not sure why, but my theory (which could totally be wrong) is that we only knew of the trans people who needed to be out the most, the most femme of trans women.  Other trans people could more easily not discuss gender, and we were the grunge generation so clothing for everyone was pretty gender neutral.  (Man, I miss grunge so much.)

Since moving to this Southern State, I’ve had several trans students in my classes and we had a student worker who transitioned while working for us, but all trans men, or more recently enbys (non-binary).  It is not very safe to be a trans woman here, even in the college town.  This is not where you want to go to college if you can go anywhere else.  This is not a state in which you want to live in if you are trans.

We’ve had a lot of anti-trans legislation, most of it aimed at children.  I spent hours, maybe days or weeks if you add all the time up, calling about bathroom bills.  My sister bought an autobiography for every single member of our state legislature.  The state blocked things.  But then came a new spate of bills, some of which passed through legislature and some of which were proclaimed by fiat.  It is dangerous to be a trans kid here.

DC1 had a best friend at private school.  K-4 they were best friends. They skipped first grade together.  In 5th grade, we went on leave.  While DC1 was gone, everyone at the private school, male and female alike, started doing locks of love, so when we got back everyone had long hair.  In 6th grade the private school shut down and at the public school they didn’t have any classes together and DC1 was so busy with mostly crafts projects for language arts that zie didn’t have much time to socialize with any of hir old private school friends outside of school.  After that they would occasionally have a single class together, but they never really talked anymore.  We heard from hir parents that zie was having difficulty adjusting to academics in high school (though, unlike DC1, the friend actually went to robotics club enough to be considered a member and is now in a leadership position).

DH and the friend’s father are themselves friends and they enjoy boardgaming together.  So pre-pandemic we’d hang out once every month or every few months depending on schedules, and sometimes DC1 and DC1’s friend and hir older brother (and even mom) would join.  At the beginning of the pandemic they did some online games together, but they couldn’t really find online games that were a good fit for them (DH and DC1’s friend’s parents have overlapping boardgame interests, but not completely overlapping) so that petered out for a while until after DC2 got vaccinated and we felt comfortable sending DH and DC1 over to their place to do boardgames again.

The weird thing was that, since the pandemic, whenever DH and DC1 would go over, DC1’s friend would not be present.  They would see the older brother if he was home from college, but not the friend.

At the most recent gaming date, DC1’s friend was present, though not participating in gaming.  Zie stopped by and was acknowledged by hir parents with a new-to-us name and different pronouns than we’d heard used before in conjunction with hir.  (Zie then almost immediately got dumped via text and went back to hir room and hir mom had to take a break from the game to console hir.)  And that was that.  DH and DC1 didn’t react at all, just mentally took notes and got back to the game.

But we talked about it when we got home.  We explained about what you’re supposed to do about gender if you live in a sane state and a person is out (use the correct pronouns and name!) and how that might be dangerous to do at school where we’re living now.  We discussed whether to misname and misgender if the person isn’t out yet in certain environments (“You never out someone without their permission”).  I was of the opinion that at school DC1 should avoid names and pronouns entirely, which is really easy for DC1 to do as zie doesn’t know any of hir friends names.  (“My one friend… My one other friend… My orchestra friend…”  The weird thing is, we generally know who zie is talking about, though, of course, not by name.)

When cross-examined, DC1 said that hir friend is going by hir deadname and incorrect pronouns at school, at least in the one class they have together.  Which is understandable given the current extreme environment right now.  Hir parents are both medical doctors and the dad works with kids.  If I were living in Texas, as a mandated reporter through my job, I would now be supposed to turn them into child protective services (but I wouldn’t!) to be investigated as abuse.  Because they are using the correct name and pronouns for this kid that we’ve known since zie was 5.  This is horrifying and terrifying.

Paired action items:

Track anti-trans legislation in your state and CALL your local representatives and tell them to VOTE NO.  These bills are coming fast and furious.

Donate to Donors Choose so trans kids can read about trans people.

Donate to help trans kids in Texas. https://secure.actblue.com/donate/heafortranskids-tent?refcode=BIN