“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” ― Gloria Steinem
Life sometimes passes you by without any notice being taken. You can go for days and days in a blur, your ingrained ‘social training’ will hold you in good stead for as long as you need if you simply want to blend in without any consequence. After reading several blogs on here the last few days about names, pronouns and ID, I realised I had not given that much thought about how others perceive the new me or how to address me when we meet.
After having my breakthrough moment and working through the initial changes to mannerisms and my thought process that will allow me to start transitioning, one thing that has become very evident is how my friends now greet me and the gesture they naturally begin with. This seems a silly notion at first, but when you actually think about how society engraves our brains, from a very young age, how to greet others correctly, some very interesting points come to the fore when gender identity is thrown into the mix.
I want to put my new found experiences on this subject into perspective, as it really came to light on a night out recently. I have frequented a club in London every month for a while now and my clothing will vary from a male suit to skirts and dresses, depending if I have time to ‘create the girl’ before I get there. Now normally most would greet me as a male and shake my hand if they were male and a quick kiss on the cheek if they were a woman, regardless of my attire. This is standard meet and greet tactics that have reigned true since the dawn of time and it is fine. Since coming out to the world greeting people has been a mixed bad, and on my night out, some male friends, who have not been phased in the slightest and simply treated me as if I was really a lady and kissed my cheek with an embrace. This was fantastic and feels right and natural. No more having to make the perfect handshake, no need to worry about squeezing or shaking a hand to hard or softly. I no longer need to worry about a man making initial judgments about me through how confidently I shake their hand.
Others have taken the usual approach to shake my hand with a smile and do not seem to even notice what has just happened. Another person actually asked whether they should treat me as a female person from now on, and their honesty about not really knowing the best way to treat me was encouraging as they had at least had a little think before engaging. All in all everyone was fine with it and there were no awkward silences or questions. I did explain that for the time being I was not concerned about being referred to as ‘he’ because I have not started any form of hormones or treatments and I do still see a man in the mirror at the present time.
Now I want to make this very clear, that either way of greeting me is fine and I am not discussing this to stamp some sort of correct procedure in place. However it is something that going forward I may have to ‘correct’ people on and this may be unfair to them as it is my choice to change who I am. It would be terrible if people I meet were worried about approaching me to say hello only to be unsure how to start. I am not easily offended, that is for sure, and I would rather have friends that greeted me how they feel comfortable, at least for the time being.
In the future I hope the change is quite natural because my appearance over time should become more and more feminine. And the further the we go through the process the better we become at getting over the hurdles and helping others to deal with the changes as well.