Thursday, April 2, 2015

Stop Me If You're Heard This One

by Giselle Renarde


I wrote the post you're about to read in 2008.  Hard to believe it's been seven years since I've spoken to the man who was once my best and closest friend. Monty was like... when I think about what it must be like to have a good relationship with your dad, that was us. We talked on the phone every day, often multiple times a day. He lived down the street from me (still does), so we hung out a lot, shared a lot of meals. It was so comfortable and casual.

And then this happened:

My friend Monty is old and set in his ways, but that’s no excuse.

For many years now, my friend Monty has been my comrade and confidante, but ever since I started seeing Sweet, his usefulness in those roles has been on the decline. The more I’ve spoken to him about my life with Sweet, the more blatantly homophobic and transphobic Monty has become.

I invite people to share dissenting views on LGTBQ topics. Once those opinions are out in the open, we can discuss them. We can clear the air. We can talk about how hatred of what’s different, of what’s unknown, is always rooted in fear. We can shine light. We can make it not about "those people," but about this person. It’s about me—I’m queer; it’s about my lovely partner—she’s trans; it’s about our relationship.

I hung up on Monty two days ago. It made me feel like a moody teenager, but I couldn’t take his ignorance anymore.

Let me tell you about the kind of conversations we’ve been having lately…

Monty (scoffing): How’s Sweet?

Me: Oh, she’s great. I had lunch with her today.

Monty: You had lunch with HIM…

Me: No…I had lunch with HER. She identifies as female, so it’s HER.

Monty: No, it’s HIM. This guy’s got a dick, doesn’t he?

Me (trying to keep my irritation in check): How can you base gender on something as arbitrary as genitalia? You’ve never even met Sweet. What makes you think you’re in a better position to select a gender identity for her than she is? That’s a very personal thing. It has nothing to do with you.

It’s been stuff like that in every conversation: Monty challenging my views on gender and transgender issues, me sharing a lot about my life and relationship in hopes he’ll start to understand. But, you know what? It isn’t working. My tension level has been on the rise. During each new conversation I’m finding myself thinking, “I can’t listen to much more of this.”

Two days ago, Monty made another inflammatory remark about Sweet. He said she doesn't exist; no, "she's" just the product of a warped mind.

Monty was consistently misgendering and putting down a person I care for, a person I love, my partner, and I just wasn’t having it anymore. I'd given him so many opportunities to shed the ignorance and gain an understanding of trans life. Enough is enough.

I finally had to say to him, “You know, when you say cruel things about Sweet, you’re hurting ME. You’re supposed to be my friend, and here you’re deliberately upsetting me by insulting my partner. If you’re going to keep on offending me like this, I’m going to have to hang up.”

You know what he said? “Well, I guess you’d better hang up, then.”

So I did.

I realize how High School all this sounds, dumping the best friend because he isn’t keen on my girl. It parallels that whole mom-doesn’t-like-my-boyfriend-so-I’ll-slam-my-bedroom-door-and-crank-up-the-radio stereotype of the teenage girl. But I made it very clear: saying hateful and transphobic things about someone I care for is hurtful to ME.

And my mom would agree that anyone who hurts you on purpose is not a real friend.

So fuck him.

6 comments:

  1. Oh, that must have been hard, Giselle. But you did the right thing, painful as it must have been. You can't change anyone but yourself, but when someone is unhealthy for you emotionally, you have to be brave and cut them out of your life. It's not a question of cruelty or pettiness - you do it for your own survival, just like you'd run away from a lover who beat you up.

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  2. I was thinking how lucky your friend is. I've had an estranged friend who became transgender (he=she didn't like my writing) and i remember how hard it was for her to find a female lover to accept her change. Your friend Sweet is very lucky to have you. Sorry for Monty though.

    Garce

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  3. Some people have assumptions and ways of thought so deeply ingrained that they can never get past them. Combine that with something like jealousy about how much time a friend spends with another person, and you can get outbursts of hostility that just can't be repressed. It's sad, but moving on is the only thing you can do.

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  4. Let's hope this lack of evolutionary vision is on the way out. Quickly. Considering what's happened in Indiana and Arkansas lately, that evolution may just speed up (due to their own ignorance of what people will tolerate). Let the bastards cross the line. Makes them more obvious.

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  5. The small minded are so afraid of change. They cling to what they believe to be the way things "should be", because it makes them feel more secure. It's impossible to get them to change their minds because that would require logically examining beliefs they hold on to as the waves of change buffet them from all sides. Fear is what makes them adamant that they are right and there is no other way.

    Religions were designed for such people. That way they don't have to answer "Why?" The answer is always "Because God said so." Since there's no way to prove or disprove that, there you are.

    You were right to cut him out of your life. Your very existence was scaring him so much that he was provoking you to do it. And since you hung up, he could convince himself that it was your fault and YOU were the one at fault. Sad.

    How frightening and lonely it must be to live in small minds like that.

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  6. Giselle, this story is so sad but so familiar, too. You sound like you were beyond patient, and that you're very generous in general with people who don't see things the way you do. I confess I'm not always that brave myself. It's sad when I look back and think about the time that's passed between the present and a formerly cherished relationship. But what you told your friend was exactly right. There's only so much someone's bigotry can be allowed to hurt you and the partner you love.

    You wrote: "I realize how High School all this sounds, dumping the best friend because he isn’t keen on my girl." But this is different from not being keen on your girl like, "She's annoying and I don't like how she dresses." This is trying to erase your girl's very existence, to treat her like she's crazy. That's really not okay at all, and it's not high school of you to take a stand against it. Hugs to you and to Sweet!

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