Advocating for myself when it comes to being misgendered has filled me with a rush of self-esteem
BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY KATIE RAINBOW
Throughout my life I have often put the comfort of others above my own. Whether it is attending events I do not feel safe at, enduring emotional labour when my own needs are not met or allowing people to continuously misgender me. I may be a Taurus, but I avoid confrontation at all costs. This year I have taken the first steps in practising self-advocacy, which I believe is an essential life skill for all, especially trans people.
I came out to my extended family years ago. It did not go well. I come from an unconventional family who I rarely see in person. Over the last few months I’ve been gently exploring whether I can fix some of these relationships. This has required a certain amount of boundaries, assertiveness and self-acceptance.
About a month ago I received a text message from one of them misgendering me. Maybe it was because it was the witching hour, or maybe I was just riddled with caffeine but I thought, “Do you know what? If I’m ever going to spend more time with these people, I need to see how they respond to being confronted when it comes to my truth”. My hands shook as I typed, “Please don’t call me that, I’m not a woman so would be appreciated”. The moment I pressed send, I felt nervous but this was overridden by the high of advocating for myself.
I was met by a lot of defensiveness. But the conversation eventually evolved into one where we listened to each other and I’ve since had other relatives reach out to tell me that they are proud of me for honouring my truth and that they are taking steps to familiarising themselves with gender identity. These conversations would have never happened if I didn’t act as my own cheerleader and establish the boundary of respect. Now that I have faced my fear of confrontation, I will not only be able to defend my own rights with more potency, but also those of others.
It has already become easier to say no to things which do not bring me peace and I have been able to better protect my energy and self-esteem. I feel more comfortable in my skin and in my voice. So this International Pronouns Day, I’d like to remind people how important it is to be treated with the dignity of having your pronouns respected.
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