Monthly Archives: July 2014

Stop Gender Policing

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I started my day with an email asking me for an interview. The student addressed his email to “Mr.” I was nice enough to respond to him anyway – though I’ve been known to ignore someone who didn’t take the time to check this. I actually couldn’t help him (not an expert in what he was looking for) so there was no harm done. I got a nice apology note – though I didn’t call him on it.

Then, a little later in my day I had a conference call. It’s me, another legal beagle (“Kim”) and the woman on the other side (“Hillary”). When Hillary answered the phone, I said,

“Hello Hillary. This is Tristan (I can’t use Butch here because it will confuse you), and Kim from Blah Blah Corp.”

And Hillary says, “But not in that order, right?”

Kim and I are confused and I reply, “What?”

Hillary says, “Well, you said Tristan and Kim. Tristan first, but you’re Kim, right?”

“No. I’m Tristan.”

“But Tristan is a man’s name and this is a woman’s voice.”

“No. I’m Tristan and that’s Kim over there.” I point in wonder to Kim across my desk. We both look shocked as we realize what’s happening.

Hillary starts to sputter and apologize profusely, “But I thought – Oh I’m sorry – I didn’t mean to -”

Didn’t mean to what? Imply that my parents are idiots for naming me Tristan? Didn’t mean to imply that only a man can have a traditionally male name? What exactly didn’t you mean, Hillary?

Of course I didn’t say any of this.

Now, Kim and I laughed. Kim knows I’m a good sport. I joked to Hillary that at least we know she didn’t Google me. Ha ha ha.

This interaction left Hillary embarrassed (rightly) and befuddled (natch). Even though I’m a good sport, that’s not going to stop me from (anonymously) putting Hillary on blast.

I mean. What the hell? What on earth would lead a professional woman to be so desperate for gender conformity on a professional phone call that she would behave this way? It’s not a call set up by Match.com. It’s a professional meeting. To discuss contracts. And indemnity. And licensing provisions. Boring stuff for most of the world; not me, of course, I love that stuff.

Who the hell cares whether she is talking to two women, a man and a woman, a woman and a Butch, or – two aliens, for that matter?

Is she going to defer to the person she thought was a man? Is she going to ask me out on a date? What was she doing being so concerned? Maybe the man should be doing the speaking and if he’s not, then he’s clearly not on the call yet. Should we wait?

I’ve been on conference calls before with a bunch of men. I’ve no issue asking the people to announce themselves so I get a chance to place the voices. Occasionally, I ask if the person who just spoke was soandso. But, to get absolutely tripped up over the fact that I’m speaking and my name doesn’t match my voice? It’s a new level of gender policing.

Though I despise the bathroom double takes and mistaken Sirs, at least those have an explanation – however feeble or rooted in ignorance they may be. This one left me perplexed. Shaking my head, as it were.

News flash Hillary: Not all women are named womanly names and not all men are named manly names. Sometimes, a woman is named Pat, or Hunter, or Michael (grrrowl). Sometimes, a man is named Kelsey, or Michele, or Shannon. And sometimes, a Butch is named Tristan. A big ol’ woman-identified Butch. Get over it.

Have any of you ever experienced this kind of crazy policing on the phone?

It’s Butch to stop gender policing. Be Butch.


Rhetoric?

Logic


10 Being The Worst Pain You’ve Ever experienced in Your Life…

I posted this today on the Huffington Post, but I understand it’s hard for some of you to comment there, so I’m reposting in it’s entirety here. If HuffPost is your thing, please wander over there and give it a like. Thanks.

Sometimes I wonder if the pain is all in my head. If it really hurts or I just think it does. This is especially true whenever I find myself at a doctor talking about my “situation.”

You know the question, “on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being no pain at all and 10 being the worst pain you’ve ever experienced in your life, what is your pain level?”

It’s a well-meaning question. I think probably useful for most people. It’s even useful for me for anything not related to my “situation.” But when it is related, as it has been recently, I am at a total loss for words. Why?

Because my scale is skewed. The worst pain I ever had was when I was crushed between a car hell-bent on making a left turn (in spite of me) and my motorcycle. I endured indescribable pain at that moment. I endured indescribable pain as I flew 75 feet through the air. The pain was indescribable as the fireman flipped me over, though I had turned myself over shortly after landing on my stomach. You see, both of my legs were so badly broken that it turns out I had only turned my torso over, not my legs. I still remember screaming in pain as they loaded me onto the gurney. Hearing the firefighters and paramedics debate whether they should wait for the life flight helicopter or drive me to the university hospital – which was only minutes away. They were afraid the speed bumps would be torture for me and cause more blood loss. I’d already lost 2/3 of my blood at the scene.

They were right. It was torture. I wish I’d passed out. It’s only fair that I should have. If life was fair, I would have. Actually, if life was fair, I wouldn’t have gotten hit to begin with. But it’s not fair. So I didn’t pass out and I did get hit. I asked for pain medication. They wouldn’t give me any – because I needed to make decisions. What?

I spit out my parents phone number repeatedly – desperate for them. Once they arrived, I finally got the elusive pain medication I was so very much in need of – not that it took away the pain. I remember my mom’s face as she told me it would be alright. I wanted so very much to believe her.

It was alright. I kept my legs. I died 3 times, but I’m here and I kept my legs. I could not be more grateful.

But, 11 leg surgeries later (12?), I have lots of pain. A lot. I’ve got arthritis and joint pain from the old injuries. Hell, over 15 years ago I was told I needed a knee replacement. How long will it last, I asked (still a young woman). I think the doctor said 15-20 years, but whatever the exact number, it meant I’d need another one in my late 40s. No thanks, I thought. I’d lived with pain that long, and I could live with it longer. It’s the same reason I have huge scars on my legs.

“We can fix those for you,” the plastic surgeon who came to consult with me said.

“Fix them?” I asked.

“Well, minimize them.”

“And how do you do that?”

“By taking skin from your backside,” he answered.

“But won’t that leave a scar on my ass?” He nodded. “Why would I want another scar on my ass just to ‘minimize’ these scars?”

Suffice it to say, I was unconvinced. I still have horrible scars on my legs. My ass however, is perfect (so to speak).

You can’t see them most of the time. Just like my pain.

I hide it really well. Indeed, this post is a challenge for me. I like for people to think me fit. Able. Capable. I spend a lot of time working to find myself Able. Capable. But there are the inescapable realities that I am a little less able than most. A little less capable.

So, when it comes time to answer the question about my legs – my hip, either knee, or my foot – I am at a loss. Today, I am not at a 10. I am not feeling the worst pain I ever felt. But I am indeed in pain, and the level of pain I am experiencing very likely justifies the doctor paying attention. It probably justifies whatever procedure or medication she is considering.

It’s my problem, of course. I need to advocate for my needs. They can’t read my mind. But it’s just so hard. How do I quantify this pain today? How do I put a number on a level of pain that I deal with daily? That I’ve actively tried to get my brain to ignore? To minimize?

Honestly, I have no idea. I’m just sitting here with pain at a higher level than usual in my foot and I started to wonder, is it all in my head? If I just decide I am not in pain, will the hurt go away? Can I fix my occasional limp?

Wishful thinking to be sure. But writing is better than feeling sorry for myself. I think.

I’m not feeling very butch right now, so I can’t come up with a clever butchism to close. It’s butch to admit you are in pain? It doesn’t feel very butch, but so be it. Be Butch.


Uber Butch: Lea DeLaria

Hi BOTs! Guess what I did last week? I got to fly to Chicago to cover a big lesbian party called Back Lot Bash. As part of my press access, the organizers Christina Wiesmore and Amie Klujian were able to get me an interview with the one and only Lea DeLaria. I had so much fun talking with Lea that night! The full interview is up now over at Huffington Post Gay Voices. Won’t you go read it? If you like it, will you click that snazzy little “like” button and possibly share it on Twitter, Facebook or via email? HuffPost likes to support bloggers that have good numbers… Thank you!

It’s hard to imagine being any more Butch than Lea DeLaria (but I will try!). Be Butch.


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