My Trials with Being Trans*

by Paul L. Grace-Neal


Washington D.C- – I was a little disconcerted today. I went to a doctor’s appointment and got into two conversations about why my name is Paul.
The first encounter was when the technician called me by my dead name. When I told her that wasn’t my name, she replied, “that’s what the paper says”. I don’t give a D@&! what the paper said!!! I wanted her to call me by my legal name. I have no nick name or PREFERRED name. I have MY name. With that, I asked for a different technician and he was cool.
Even though my name has been changed since February, the office didn’t change it in the system. They said they would make a note of my “preferred” name. Problem is it’s not my PREFERRED name. It is my name. My legal name.

The next encounter occurred as I was leaving. An employee called me by dead name and then corrected herself. No problem. She got it. Afterwards, I presented my ID’s like I had done before so that it could be changed in the system. Why did they make a deal out of it with a full conversation? One was happy and became elated as if she were at a party or celebration because it was official.

Uncomfortable but whatever. The clincher… another employee wanted to know why and then said, “I bet your mother called you (dead name)”. First of all, let my mom rest in peace. Secondly, my parents didn’t name me; my aunt did. And thirdly, who is she to come off that way. I am really tired of transphobia. I don’t question why they are straight or hetero. I just believe you be you, boo.

I’m tempted to not go back. I try to not draw attention to my “trans-ness” even though my appearance is drastically changing.
Yes, I do wear my “This is what Trans looks like” t-shirt to LGBT functions. Yes, I am starting a Trans ministry in the beginning of the year. I still want respect and to not be seen as a commodity or freak. Yes, I hope one day to be mentioned along with the Tiq’s, Marsha’s, Ruby’s, and Aiydan’s of this world. But I don’t want to be hated, abused, murdered, or challenged in any way because I made a decision to stop resisting and be me.
As much as I would like to use the men’s room, I don’t want the rhetoric of someone telling me I don’t belong and to get out.

I don’t want someone harassig me when I tell them it’s sir and not ma’am.

I don’t want people asking if I like being male or female better.
I don’t want people commenting about my perceived genitalia.
I don’t want strange looks when I shop in a men’s store.
I don’t want someone to ask me when the last time I wore a dress.

And the biggie!!! Stop asking when and what surgery I am going to have. Leave that up to your own imagine. That is a sacred and personal decision to a trans* person. But experiences like this occur day after day. Friends and associates just don’t get it. I’ve even had to let go of family and close friends because of their homophobic and transphobic ways of relating to me.

I still love romantic movies, bowling, writing poetry, and cutting up.
On the other hand, I have never liked being mocked, cussed, or told I can’t, or shouldn’t do something because others may feel embarassed, or uncomfortable. If it’s not immoral, illegal, or unsafe, I decide who I am or what I do. I can only be me.
Sometimes I wonder if I made the right decision to accept my trans-ness; then I remember the pain I felt wanting to stay lesbian or mutilate my breast. I remember praying to God to take the pain and feelings away. At times, I even wanted to die but but I didn’t want to physically hurt in the process. I wanted it to be quick, fast, and in a hurry and I couldn’t think of a good and quick way.
I have finally come to love me. I’m not asking for others to agree, understand, or even love me. All I am asking is for people to respect or at least tolerate me… and the rest of the Trans* community.


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