I Am Not a She: A Letter to Those Who Need to Misgender Me
I tried to come out about being a victim of sexual harassment by someone I had once considered a friend. Twice. Three years a part. Once to just one friend. Then again to a lot of friends. Each time I did, the moment he denied it not only did everyone decide to believe him over me, everyone also began to misgender me.
And some part inside of me broke.
Three years ago I had just begun going by he/him. I’m AFAB, which means I was assigned female at birth. But I identify as male, a kind of non-binary male. I’m not fully masculine is what I mean. But I’m not in any way a woman. And three years ago I had finally begun talking about these things which I had been hiding since I was a child. I had hidden them primarily out of fear of being beaten by my mother who did not like queer people, she liked gay men, but anything beyond that she didn’t quite care for.
Anything she saw as “weird” I should say.
The moment the harasser began telling people I was crazy people stopped using he/him. They started dead-naming me (though I admit, I have changed my new name since then, I settled on one I like better since 3 years ago). They called me some other name that I used in college as a pen name, though some others in the toxic world of gaming had already been doing that. I guess it was time to jump on that gravy train as well.
People said horrific things about me, of course. That I lied about being raped, That I was a TERF. That I was lying about being trans so I could get attention (I don’t know what kind of attention I would be getting if I was a TERF trying to be trans, but okay). It was as if the steps I took to start to be comfortable being who I really am had disappeared from underneath me and I was falling into nothingness.
Flash forward 3 years. After that experience I had shoved myself so hard back into the closet only a few people ever knew about how I felt about my gender identity. My husband kind of knew I was confused, but I didn’t have the nerve to tell him anything because inside I felt like I was a liar. That I was manipulating people. I felt guilty for feeling like a man. For hating my body. For waking up every day and being acutely aware of how wrong everything felt.
Every day I hated my body and how feminine it was, but I hated myself more for possibly appropriating trans culture.
Then I found a new group of people. Most of them probably didn’t even notice me at first. Again, I’m really shy until I get to know a person. They don’t even realise I’d been following them for a while. Through most of the 2016 election. It wasn’t until I changed my avatar from a cat picture (just a generic one from the internet) to my face that people started noticing me.
I grew comfortable. Talked about being non-binary. Talked about feeling wrong. Talked about what happened before and people felt awful for what I had been through. The very thing that had shoved me back in the closet was helping others pull me back out.
Finally I sat down and talked to my husband and came out about wanting to transition. And little by little since then I’ve been changing things over to my new name. I was only going by they/them, though in my head I was already starting the idea of going by he/him again. It felt right, making this move. And everything was falling into place.
Until this past Saturday and the stalkers once more showed up again with their same tired screenshots, smears, and wrong name. Suddenly, it didn’t matter that I had told people over and over that I had being stalked for years. It didn’t matter I had proof of my twitter handles from 2014 onwards. It didn’t matter I had a police report from 2015. Someone else had a paste bin, and we know what that means.
It means I became a she again. I saw it, multiple times, over and over. “She” this and “She” that. And at least one person even claiming, as they had before, that I made up the rape story that I had shared just the day before. “She’s a liar.”
Every time I saw those words, especially from someone who had just a week prior had used my pronouns, who supported my transition, and so forth, I wanted to get into the shower and scrub my skin with bleach. I felt dirty. I felt disgusting and gross and like I was worthless.
By Sunday the anxiety had turned into depression. By Monday I was planning my suicide and had to call the hospital. I recognised the signs from the first time and didn’t want to be another statistic. I saw where I was going. I knew what would happen to me if I didn’t get help right away.
To be honest, I don’t know where I am right now mentally. I had a two hour assessment on Tuesday. I have another on Friday. My husband has hidden my pills as well as any sharp knives in case I start planning again.
And it’s not hard to fall back into ideation. I go back to Twitter sometimes. I never log in, but I go back to check on some people because despite it all I loved them. I truly loved these people. And I see them saying “she…”
They dismiss my case of harassment because my harasser came out as queer. In every instance of me talking about him I’ve only ever said he sent me things that made me uncomfortable. I never wanted to out him myself. That was never my place to do that. I just said he made me uncomfortable.
By misgendering me, by dismissing me as a woman and not the man I’ve been trying to scream that I am for the past however many years, you’ve done 90% of his work for him.
But you know what, I don’t care if you don’t believe me, I don’t expect you to as you’ve already made up your mind, but please stop calling me “she.”
I am a man. If you won’t use he/him, then at least use they/them.