Yesterday I was approached by one of my work colleagues, who happens to be a gay male, wanting to discuss my recent email. He wanted to know why I sent it, what gender neutral pronouns were and how on earth you would expect someone to use ‘they’ while you could just use their first name (ok valid point). He then progressed into asking me if I was a hermaphrodite… At that point I was caught between thinking “what the… did he just say that?” and wondering if I should explain to him how:
a) that term is perhaps not appropriate;
b) explaining the difference between intersex and trans*; and
c) that is none of his business (which I didn’t in fact think about until this morning).
Throughout the last week several counsellors have thanked me for my email, asked me about it a little further and also helped educated others who have not felt comfortable enough to approach me. I however, wrongly, assumed that some of the queer staff at work would have some idea about gender diversity. By the end of yesterday I actually felt quite upset and angry that I allowed myself to be so vulnerable and didn’t have my wits about me to say how that question was both inappropriate and non of his business.
Overall however I had over 15 emails acknowledging my request, congratulating me and supporting me. One person asked, via email, if I could clarify whether I would like my preferred name and gender neutral pronouns to be applied only when dealing with clients who may refer to me by name and/or in general. Thankfully my response didn’t reflect my thoughts and feeling of ‘what part of preferred name and pronouns do you not understand!?’.