Dealing With ‘Them’
Or how I’ve had to deal with people who are so fragile they can’t handle my life.
Hi, it’s me again.
It’s been an eventful week. I went to Houston for a work conference and I also returned home to New Mexico quite happy with the fact I was home.
But this week brought some really good clarity about myself but also about other people.
Yes folks, I’m talking about ‘them’.
The difficult people who can’t deal with your new identity.
Those who are stuck in another time.
Those who, no matter how hard you try, they’ve refused (thus far) to come to accept you as valid.
But first before we try to solve problems let me tell you about an experience at my hotel this week.
So the first night -> second morning in my hotel was pretty nice until 6:02 A.M. when someone opened our hotel door and tried to enter the room.
The response I could muster, “Uh what are you doing?”
That was weird, maybe I didn’t shut the door right and someone was drunk from a night out. I mean, weirder things have…happened.
Back to sleep.
*Hotel Phone Rings*
At this point I’m pretty furious. What in the hell is this about?
The convo went something like this, “Is this Mr. Sanner?”
“Uh no, this is Mrs. Sanner.”
“This room is booked under Mr. Sanner and that’s not a girl’s name.”
Rinse and repeat some of this variation for a good long while with the front desk person more and more incredulous and hostile with time.
Then they hang up.
Cis people, you never have to go through this stuff on a regular basis. But for trans people, especially those of us who have to wait long periods of time to change our name due to legal or financial reasons — dealing with open hostility like his happens all too often. Usually it’s unnecessary and is only done to create an undue burden because of ‘their’ uncomfortableness with our existence.
Needless to say I reported this and I had a meeting with the hotel management within hours of this all occurring. The explanation I was offered was complete B.S. as to why any of this had happened, but in the moment I was more annoyed than anything.
This is one small and relatively mild example of what trans people deal with on a day to day basis.
Though to be honest, the whole situation could have been more dangerous if my door latch broke and the person coming in was openly hostile to trans people.
Did the front desk try to do something incredibly horrible? Did someone act out of transphobic aggression? Or did what was described as the first time in the history of this national hotel chain occurrence actually happen?
You be the judge.
This is my new reality, yo.
The Possum and the Raccoon
There’s a story of my people, the Choctaw, that involves two brothers Raccoon and Possum.
Possum had this magical, flowing tail that Raccoon was jealous of. So Raccoon tricks Possum and burns his tail off out of an envious grudge.
Just like Possum, I am dealing with people who are harboring grudges.
There are members of my family who are harboring a grudge against me because I came out as transgender. It’s a story all too common for transgender people.
Since coming out I have had no shortage of the following (and keep in mind my list is not nearly as long or dramatic as many trans people):
- Many family members stop talking to me completely. (Which some, I might have been thankful for I guess)
- Be disinvited from extended family holidays, hostilely. (No loss on my part)
- On the flip side be invited but be told I am not my wife’s spouse but her ‘friend’ and I’d be referred to as such. (Hint: I never went)
- Be referred to as my old name in Birthday Greetings and messages, sometimes to ask me questions about things people need help with (like WTF).
- Be sent messages that sounded supportive but included words like “Man” “Buddy” “Dude” and “Bro” — which uh, yeah. You know. Weird right?
- Be told I wasn’t allowed around kids in the family because I might just expose them to our lifestyle (hint: your kids won’t like you in a few years).
- The real kicker was when someone told me my Mom, who passed in 2015, would be ashamed of my choices. (Let me get the last laugh on that one right now, she was the first person I even hinted about any of this about and she loved me so much that I would have been embarrassed by her defending me all over social media).
These are just some samples of those I’d deem as close friends or family members finding ways to show hostility and hate towards my existence.
But while I’m lucky in the fact my wife is still my wife, my immediate family has firmly stuck with me, and many of my friends have done a great job realizing I’m still the same person — these are still a mountain of things that changed instantly on August 8th.
So How To Deal With ‘Them’
The first thing that was surprising about the Houston encounter was that my first reaction wasn’t to look inwardly at something being wrong.
There was a time not so long ago that would have been the case.
But instead my instant, gut reaction was annoyance in the sense of “what the hell is wrong with these people?”
And then, “We’ll I guess I’m not getting to sleep so I guess I can go eat breakfast.”
So how to tell other trans people to deal with ‘them’?
You know the ones.
The one’s who scream they want to make America great again while flying an American flag whenever they can, praying to and proclaiming a God they say is love while showing you and the world what hate looks like.
Sometimes its the small things like telling you that you aren’t your wife’s wife if you come home.
Sometimes its the big things like double booking a room on purpose (?) in an attempt to create an unsafe environment for you.
Sometimes its when Pinky visits a Houston convenience store and is gunned down in broad daylight mercilessly by someone who also couldn’t handle her existence.
Dealing with ‘them’ means we have to be brave.
We have to be strong.
Have to be present.
To be resilient.
I believe with all my heart that trans people will achieve equality in this country because we are the people who have done the most work to live as authentically and graciously and beautifully as we possibly can. We are the strongest, most badass people because we’ve been brave enough to walk into the unknown, risking everything, in order to be ourselves.
We aren’t the weak ones. The ones who are weak are the ones who can’t have you over for the holidays or who purposefully misgender you or who physically assault you.
Their insecurity, their weakness is your power.
So how do we deal with ‘them’?
We use that power inside of us to live without apology.
Our existence is not a burden. Our existence is beautiful.