Shedding the Transphobic Load

Posted: January 24, 2016 in Uncategorized
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So my aunt is Catholic. Not the nice moderate type of Catholic who is all love thy neighbour, oh no no. The crazy type who is all “UNMARRIED MOTHERS WILL BRING THE END OF HUMAN CIVILISATION.”

(No, seriously, she’s said that.)

Anywho, I went visiting for the first time in years this weekend. This is because I told my family my new name back in the spring of 2015. She’s had nearly a year to get used to it, but still persists in sending me things with my old name on them, cards and the like. So I thought, right, time to sort this out.

Her grandkids came to visit while I was there.

The two in question are four and six. Last time I saw them, they were two and, well, nothing. A blob with a tuft of hair, really. And that’s the two-year-old. In short, they haven’t the first clue who I am — a point made rather obvious by my aunt saying to the four-year-old when they walked in and clocked me, “Oh, that’s Aunty Anna.”*

(Note: everyone in my family remotely older than you is aunty or uncle so-and-so, simply because it’s so freaking big.)

This. Was. Torture.

For four hours, these kids decided they liked me (god knows why) and wanted me to play with them. Constant ‘Aunty Anna, look at this!’ and ‘noooo, Jamie, Aunty Anna’s playing with me!’ and all sorts. It was like having my ears shredded. Twice, given that I don’t like children in the first place.

Obviously I am not saying this is remotely their fault. But my aunt?

These kids do not know me. My aunt could have said I was a traveller from the Romanian circus and they would have believed her. She could have said I was a new lodger here to soak up the glory of Gateshead, and they would have believed her. She could have, shock-fucking-horror, used my actual goddamn name.

I honestly would not even have minded had she said, “Oh, that’s Aunty Ali.” My name is unisex. It can be applied to a boy or a girl. I would genuinely not have minded, given these kids were four and six and not the brightest four and six year olds either, still being labelled as female. I still sound female. I still generally look female. They would probably have perceived me as female with or without ‘aunty.’

But no. Aunty Anna. After nearly a year.

Combine this with my aunt constantly slagging off my father (her brother) for being obstinate and stubborn. “He’ll never change,” is her refrain.


And yet my father, who is 69 years old and denounces most modern footballers as being nancy boys, has come to terms with my transition. He takes the view that I am his child, and he will support my decisions. We still talk. We still have a positive relationship. I am taking him on holiday for his 70th birthday this year. Does he use my new name? Well, no, not often — but if he sends me post, it’s to my new name. My Christmas cheque was written out to my new name. He has seen and not commented on parcels from my publisher to Mr. New Name. Is he perfect? Dear lord no. Would he understand if I said, “Look, come on, you still calling me Anna down the pub to your mates is hurtful sometimes.” Hell no. Is he, however, accepting of who I am?

Yes, actually.

But my aunt? Apparently not.

Well, needless to say, I wasn’t happy. So I took her aside before I left and asked her to please use my new name. The response?

“Oh, that.” *scowl* “Yes.” *scowl* “Now, do you need any petrol for the drive home?”

I tried to explain it’s hurtful.

“It’s hard,” she said. “You’re in the middle of transition. Enough of that.”

No, not enough of that! I’m not in the middle of changing my name!

“No, enough of this, now tell us when you get home safe–”

I slammed the car door and drove off. I actually had to pull over a mile down the road because I hadn’t waited long enough to put my sat nav up.

When I got home (having mentally sworn at her the whole way), I wrote a letter. Two sides of A5, telling her how rude and disrespectful she’d been to me and my family, and that as she clearly neither loves nor respects me, I won’t be visiting again. I ended it by telling her not to contact me. I’ll be posting it in the morning.

And yet.

Out of all of it, I learned something positive about myself.

I’m angry.

I’m bloody fuming! I’m furious with her and her hypocrisy, her constant bleating about the importance of family and bemoaning that we (my siblings and parents and I) are too far away and never get in touch, and yet having the disgusting hypocrisy to disrespect a simple request to use the correct damn name.

But I’m not upset.

I don’t feel I’ve lost something. I don’t feel I’ll miss out by cutting her off as I’m going to. I simply feel angry with her, and all of it is based in I am worth more than that. I deserve to have my name respected, and if you loved me, you would. As you won’t, you obviously don’t love me, so why the fuck should I keep you in my life?

This, I think, is a big positive step for me.

So onwards and upwards: shedding the transphobic load and filling up my life with people who like for who I am, not for who they want me to remain.



*NB: my birth name was not Anna, but this flowed better with a name shoved in there.

  1. Getting rid of people you associate with out of a sense of obligation – family or otherwise – is shedding a huge load, and you’ve done the right thing. If they don’t contribute positively to your life then you don’t need them. It’s a realization I came to years ago, and still with I’d realized it sooner still. Good on you xx


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