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Being Decent Isn’t Hard If You Make The Effort

, , , , , | Friendly | April 7, 2021

This story takes place at a theatre where I’m a performer. Also featuring in this story is the costume designer/maker who’s female and dating [Performer #2], a man I don’t know very well. [Performer #1] is a male performer who I consider a good friend. There’s also [Director], another guy I don’t know very well, as I don’t normally work on his stuff.

I’ve recently come out as a trans man and the name I’ve chosen is quite long. I’m meeting a group of people who I’m working with on an amateur and very small production; they know my situation. I am warned by [Performer #2] that his girlfriend, [Costume Designer] will seem rude and get my pronouns and name wrong. Whilst I’ve met her briefly before, I was presenting as female and she knew me by my deadname. I was already nervous about it, as it is the first time meeting up since I came out, but his warning about her has made me even more anxious.

When we meet up everyone seems fine. [Costume Designer] is a bit standoffish but seems to make a conscious effort to get my name correct; she’s pausing before saying it. She doesn’t really talk a lot to anyone, to be honest. A little bit further into the meeting, I’m with [Performer #2] and the director, who’s just offered to change my character into a male, when we overhear something going on. [Costume Designer] and [Performer #1] have their backs to us and [Costume Designer] looks kind of tense.

Performer #1: “Do you know where [My Deadname] is?”

Costume Designer: “I k-know where—” *pause* “—[my name] is.”

Performer #1: *Scoffing* “That’s utter BS; you and I both know it. Her name is [My Deadname] — born a she, always a she.”

Costume Designer: “He… They, He. They’re a g-guy. N-not a g-girl. He was by the… the… the…”

She pauses and it is at this moment that I realise she has a stutter.

Performer #1: *Mocking tone* “Are you st-st-st-struggling to sp-sp-speak?” *Laughs* “Spit it out, woman.”

She responds by giving him the middle finger, which [Performer #2] sniggers at. [Performer #1] hears that and looks around. He goes pale when he sees us together.

Performer #1: “Oh! Hey, [My Dead]—”

Costume Designer: *Interrupting* “[M-my N-n-name].”

She struggles heavily with my long name.

Performer #1: *Once again mocking* “That’s n-n-n-not his n-n-n-n-name, either, dips***.”

Director: *Cold fury* “Get your stuff and come with me, [Performer #1].”

They leave, and [Costume Designer] walks over to us. She’s a mix of angry and upset.

Costume Designer: “S-Sorry—” *pauses* “—[My-My Name].” *Scowls* “[My N— N-Name].”

She scowls harder, and then says under her breath:

Costume Designer: “F***.”

Me: “What?”

Costume Designer: “Hard.”

Performer #2: *To me* “Yeah, sorry, man, but your name is hard for her to say, so she feels bad. When she gets angry or very emotional, or even tired, she gets worse. Plus, like, she has mild aphasia from an accident. Basically, speaking is not easy for her.”

Turns out, [Performer #2] was trying to warn me about her speech-related conditions; he just did so really badly. He had messaged everyone separately to inform them that she’s likely to mess up, and he hadn’t really considered the further implications that would happen with me. He said she’d seem rude because she doesn’t chat.

[Performer #1] never returned; the director asked him to leave. Fortunately, we were quite early into the practices, and [Performer #1] had a very small part, so we could easily get someone else to do it. I don’t talk to him anymore, but I became close friends with [Costume Designer] and [Performer #2].

This story is part of our Best Of April 2021 roundup! This is the last story in this roundup, but if you’d like to read more of our favorite stories, you can always check out March’s roundup next!

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