The cafe, eight thirty in the morning. I wasn’t running with the group but volunteering. Getting over a cold seemed to be continuing with no end in sight. I plonked my reusable cup on the counter, “Hot chocolate please, take away.” A couple of check marks on a label and then stuck to the side of my cup before punching my order into the till.
“Three sixty five please.”
“Three sixty five?” I said politely–confused but knowing a large size had probably been put in and my reuse discount not applied.
“Sorry, I’ve put it in wrong.” she said pausing for a moment with my change in one hand and the other hand holding the till draw open. “Hold on.” she quietly grabbed another member of staff for help in sorting the correct price and change.
The other barista paired with her at the till. “So, shegave you five pound and she ordered a regular. So you need to put in her order like this – now you give hertwenty five pence discount for herreusable cup and then give herthe difference in change, so she should have an extra…” I just shut up and let them continue. It was worth the money I was short for this gendering–misgender–not–misgendered thing that had happened. “So give hertwo pound sixty.” My day had just been made after a couple of weeks of fading confidence. The funny thing is, one of my run group friends standing next to me in the queue didn’t even seem to react to it either.
I may have been waterproofed to the hood with an umbrella as well but even though, when we made our way to the start, the rain came down enough to normally make you wish you’d stayed in bed but I really didn’t after someone using those pronouns had turned the rain from grey to life giving for the price of a hot drink. It’s not like I was in my running gear. Just plain old skinny jeans and a waterproof but I guess sometimes there is a bit more to it. May be first thing in the morning is my time.
The day after I was telling my Mum about the price I was almost charged for a hot chocolate. It crossed my mind for a moment, back and forth, shall I tell her what the Barista had said? Would she react, would she wonder why I was telling her that detail and whether I ‘corrected’ them? I guessed if there was a good enough time to test the water that was it. It certainly wasn’t the time to actually get onto the subject, given the other family members around at the time, and make any big announcement. So I told her what had happened, in detail, accentuating each gender pronoun. She smiled, laughed a little, but it just seemed to be part of the story. Nothing said. It was a start.
In the scheme of things these are small things, or at least appear small, but they are important things for self confidence. Sometimes those with gender identity, conflicts can have set-backs from the smallest problems, either the way someone has said something or just by looking in the mirror in the morning and feeling a fraud. Sometimes it’s the other way around and we seen in ourselves what we feel inside. It’s just down to perspective at the time.
When all my female work trousers prematurely wore out, one from an accident with the iron – when it reads ‘one-dot’ on the care label, it doesn’t mean ‘two-dots’, at least not when you pay fifteen pounds for a pair. At that point I couldn’t find anything in the shops to replace them with that I was prepared to pay for that I would know I would feel good about them and so reverted to the one pair of male work trousers I had left until I could replace them otherwise.
I didn’t mind wearing them at the time but as the days went on I felt just a little low, as well as struggling with the washing and dry in time and wearing my jeans on the day I was allowed to, I also realised I had lost a little part of me. A little comfort had gone. I felt like I’d been forced to wear what I didn’t want to and when I’m working over thirty seven hours a week that’s over thirty seven hours of wearing something that I didn’t want to be a part of me for that much of my weekly life. I pushed myself out one lunch time, bought two pairs of trousers that weren’t that expensive that would at least get–me–by. The days that followed I just felt the clouds lift. Such a small thing but such an important one.
Like the heavy rain on the weekend just small drops of positive things from other people, whether knowingly or otherwise, and everyday things, like clothes, allowing us to feel whole again can create a lake of well-being and washing away negative feelings.
Living with gender identity is a wave on the ocean with highs and lows, sometimes predictable and sometimes surprising. Sometimes it’s best to go with the flow and sometimes, when the conditions are right, it’s time to get a bigger boat.
Until next time,