Today’s Awkward Transgender Moment

The scene: Early morning.  My Cubicle.  My office has two managers, and the manager that I haven’t worked under is in the cubicle next to mine.  I’ve helped him out a lot with technical stuff in the past, and I just helped him work out how to handle a derailed process until the people who can fix it come in.  We’ve been talking through the cubicle wall.

Manager:  “Thank you, Sir.”
Me: “Actually, I don’t like to be called sir.”  (I’ve been trying to let people know this over the past month or two or… actually, it may have been three by now.  I’m terrible with timelines.  Since I got my earrings, anyway.)
Manager: Laughs briefly.  “Oh, I’m sorry.  I was meaning it as a sign of respect, not disrespect.”
Me: “Yeah, and you’re fine.  I don’t actually take offense.  I just prefer not to be called ‘sir,’ and I’ve been trying to let people know that lately.”  (While I explain this, I wonder if my other manager has talked to him about me being transgender, or if he’s just thinking this is a weird quirk.)
Random New Hire, who hasn’t been involved in the issue I was troubleshooting or our conversation at all prior to this:  “Ha.  Try using ma’am.”
My brain: Momentary pause.
Manager: “Huh?”
Me: “Actually, I’m transgender, so that sort of works.”
Manager: sputtering laugh.
Me: “No, really, I…”
Manager: Possibly thinking I’m trying to take a joke in poor taste a little too far?  “No, don’t worry, you don’t have to explain or anything.”
Me: “What?  It’s not like I’m in the closet about it.  I’m just not far enough along to legally change my identity marker.”
Manager: Slightly stunned that I wasn’t joking along after all.  “Oh.  Well, I’ll try to remember that.  If I forget, just throw something soft at me.”
Me: A brief chuckle.  “Yeah, like I said: I don’t take offense or anything.  If you forget, I’ll just gently remind you that I’m not fond of it.”
Manager: Laughing, perhaps slightly uncomfortably.  “Oh, there’s no need to be gentle about it.  Just…   Like, a bowling ball wouldn’t work.”  Suddenly perking up:  “A donut would be great, though.”
Me: “…”
Me: “…if it becomes endemic, I’ll see what I can arrange.”
Random New Hire:  Ongoing and absolute silence….

So, apparently if the office keeps mis-gendering me, I owe them donuts?  >.>  Maybe Instead I can just bring a box in and put a little card on it that says “Hi.  I’m transgender.  You know me as XYZ, but I prefer ABC.  I don’t like being called ‘sir,’ but ‘ma’am’ is fine.  My pronouns are she and her.  Here, have some donuts to help you get through the shock of finding this out, and a small sugar rush to help you remember these details.  Thanks! –ABC”

I dunno.  We’ll see.


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