Respect is a huge thing during transition. I’d like to argue it’s a two way street. On the one hand, you’d like to be treated accordingly in your new gender. On the other, the general public have comfort zones too. You need to make allowances for this.
After being referred to as Sir this week, this post sort of grew out of two of the most common words I am addressed by, Pal and Mate. Words that can be incendiary to some transgender people. I still struggle to understand why. Both are simply terms which refer to friendship and in my city they are standby greetings to strangers. Where is the problem? They are infinitely better than Sir in my opinion.
They are at least genderless expressions. A cultural no-man’s land. And if you find yourself on the receiving end of Pal or Mate? Please don’t get your knickers in a twist. It’s not a slur. It’s not offensive. It’s just somebody badly searching for an acceptable term which won’t offend you and which they are ok with.
As time has gone on, misgendering happens less and less to me. But it is still the default position of many, e.g. taxi drivers, to use either Pal or Mate to talk to me. In a one to one situation I have to concede that some strangers may not be entirely comfortable with my questionable gender, I can entirely accept Pal and Mate in these moments. Particularly from men. It shows they are trying, with perhaps the minimum of real effort, not to be a dick to me. No matter what opinion they may hold.
It’s about perspective really. If you look for attacks in life, you will pretty much always find them. But being offended by folk desperately trying to meet you halfway is pointless. Nobody ever died from Pal or Mate. They’re maybe not my ideal greetings but I’ll take either over misgendering any day of the week. As much as I have a right to be, other people do get to have their own opinions about it. That’s just fine as long as there is basic respect involved. But you sort of do have to give it back. If someone is making that effort to try, please allow them to do their best. Life is much easier that way. OK Pal?