Society Is Transitioning With Them

, , , , | Working | October 12, 2019

(I study dentistry in France. I’m a VERY anti-social justice woman, but I still think it’s important to support real issues, like gay and trans rights. Therefore, I educate myself on those topics, perhaps a bit more than the average person. This takes place at the dental clinic. We get the names and file number of patients on paper and then have to get them from the waiting room by calling their name out loud. I open my patient’s file using their number and read through it quickly, not paying much attention to their name. I see them being referenced as a woman, with pronouns like she and her. I then go and get them by calling “Mrs. [Last Name], and an older woman stands up and accompanies me to my chair. I then notice that the first name on the file is male. It sometimes happens that we get patients with the same last name confused, so I check:)

Me: “Um, sorry, but… what’s your first name? There might be a problem with the file.”

Patient: “Oh, it’s [Male Name], but I use the name [Female Name] now. I haven’t legally changed sex because that would make me lose my pension, but I am male to female transgender.”

Me: “Oh, all right. I guess you want me to refer to you by using female pronouns?”

Patient: “Well, you can call me [Female Name]!”

Me: “Haha, I can’t really do that since I don’t know you that well, but sure, I’ll call you ma’am, then.”

(The appointment goes well, and we chat about how and why she came to find out she’s a woman. At the clinic, our chairs are basically in half-open cubicles, so people walking by can see and hear everyone’s patients. After I’m done treating her, a guy from my class approaches me. It’s worth noting his father is an imam — a Muslim prayer leader — and he was raised VERY conservatively.)

Guy: “So… What was up with your patient?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

Guy: “Well… I don’t get it. Was it a man? A woman? Was it a woman who wanted to be a man? Was he wearing a wig?”

Me: *pause* “Bruh.”

Guy: “What? That’s weird.”

Me: “Well, she’s male to female. When she was young, she was a man, physically at least. Now, she’s taking hormones; that’s why she has a female body. She identifies as a woman, so that’s what she is. She just wasn’t born in the right body, so to speak. And yes, that’s her real hair… You know that if you let yours grow, it will get long, as well, right?”

(I know I simplified it a bit, but my colleague was mystified by the concept of transgender people, so I didn’t want to overcomplicate it for him. To his honor, he didn’t feel “disgusted” or anything of that sort, just confused. I didn’t think there still was anyone under forty in France who didn’t know what a transgender person was!)

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