“Actually, I find it a little offensive.”

One of the reasons that I hated holidays as a kid, and enjoy them so much now, is that I get to spend time with family that I don’t see on a routine basis. This weekend (Fourth of July), I’m at my grandparents’ lake house, hanging out with my younger sister, one of her college roommates, and my dad. Later on we will be joined by the grandparents, Mom, maybe a cousin, and possibly a college friend of mine. As great as it is to see everyone, the person I have been looking forward to seeing the most is my sister, L.

L is only three years younger than me, and we have always been extremely close. She has long been one of my biggest supporters; in fact when I told her that I wanted to start Transitioning she said, “Oh good! I’ve spent the last five years stopping myself from introducing you as my brother, but now I can!” Even with her own issues, she’s always been a shoulder to lean on or an ear to listen. Unlike me, L wanted to go to college further away from our parents. Whereas I only went an hour and a half north, she went four hours west, into a completely different state. I’ve visited her out there a couple of times, but ever since she started school our relationship has depended on things like e-mail, phone calls, Facebook, and Skype. In person visits have become a treat reserved for holidays or other special occasions. Technology is great, but I miss my sister!

As I said, getting to see L was one of the things I was most looking forward to about this weekend. Dad and I arrived at the lake Wednesday night; L and her roommate arrived several hours later. Yesterday, we spent the morning and early afternoon playing down by the water, enjoying the sun. After lunch, L retreated up to the house to do homework for a summer course. Later, when I came up, she had finished, and was watching an episode of NCIS on her computer.

Before I continue this story, a quick disclaimer: I know next to nothing about NCIS. L has tried to interest me in the past, and I know who some of the characters are, but beyond the fact that it is a military crime drama I know zip.

“Hey!” L said. “You should watch this episode with me! It’s the one where DiNozzo kisses a guy!” Well, I wasn’t too interested in watching, but I did sit down next to her and work on my laptop, glancing over at the screen occasionally. I became glued to the screen though, when I realized what exactly was going on: The main suspect in this particular investigation was a Naval officer who happened to be a male-to-female transsexual. That kiss my sister was so sure I had to see? DiNozzo, not realizing who the woman is, takes the suspect out on a date and she kisses him. That was what my sister meant by “DiNozzo kisses a guy”.

After the kiss took place, L looked over at me. “Wasn’t that hilarious?”

“Actually, I find it a little offensive.”

L just rolled her eyes at me and went back to watching the episode’s conclusion, wherein the other investigators harass/question DiNozzo about the kiss.

After thinking about it, though, it’s not the show that I find offensive. Yes, it’s not exactly a politically correct portrayal of a trans person, and yes, the way that they refer to the character as a male (even though she was scheduled for gender reassignment surgery) is rude. No, what I’m more concerned/offended/discouraged about is my sister’s description.

L has known me all of her life. As I’ve said, she has been one of my biggest supporters. She was one of the first people to refer to me using male pronouns, even though she got in trouble with Mom for it. We have a cousin who is MtF. And yet she still committed the same rudeness as the characters in and writers of the show: She referred to someone by the label society gave them, not the label they clearly preferred.

I haven’t talked to L yet about this revelation. I only came to this conclusion late last night, after everyone was in bed, and as of right now I’m the only one awake. (L is definitely NOT a morning person.) I don’t know if I’ll have the chance to talk with her about it this weekend, but I want to broach the subject at some point. In a way, she let me down, and I don’t want it to happen again.

  1. Dobian said:

    I have a sibling whom I see only on holidays who finished the surgical portion of a M2F transition over a year ago. I *still* have to focus to remember the correct pronouns and I think that a part of this is because our contact is mostly by text message, so I have a horde of memories of HIM from our childhood and only a few memories of HER from the past year.

    I have another friend who is just starting her M2F transition, and I see her in person on a regular basis. I frequently say her old name aloud, and use male pronouns, and then audibly correct myself. I can see her tick of annoyance at my slow learning, and appreciation at the effort.

    I hope your sister takes her acceptance of you to heart and applies it to the rest of the world more quickly and easily than I’ve been doing.

    • It sounds like you are working on it; like anything, it takes practice. I’ve talked with my sister about this incident recently, and she apologized and reaffirmed her support of me. Thanks for taking the time to comment.

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