It’s always a good idea to haul out a weighty sounding phrase like ‘paradigm shift’ instead of ‘shit is different now’ when talking to people who like to review projected PowerPoint slides and nod gravely. All things considered, it’s probably better to sound less like a dumbass whenever possible, and especially when dealing with folks who knew you as ‘Mike who wore the same pants everyday’. Since I have no idea who actually reads this anymore, the aforementioned grumpus from the first line was definitely not you. You are always a delight to present things to.
The great uncomfortable thing about paradigm shifts is that they rarely happen to everyone at the same time. Sometimes shifts can take years, and others relatively quickly. I’ve been very fortunate in that my own shift seems to be happening fairly rapidly. While true, I have been thinking of myself in strictly female pronouns, when not speaking in the third person to myself and addressing me as Michelle, for a good year and a half. For others of course, this is all brand new, and just a few weeks ago I was still just ‘Mike’, a dude on the third floor who as mentioned, wore the same pants every day. Honestly, I had multiple pairs, so don’t even start. Shifting away from that takes a little bit of time.
Many in my situation make the shift in their own heads, and then expect the world to suddenly have a sunburst of illuminating understanding erupt above the collective head. “Ah ha! He is truly she, not only now, but forever, back from the beginning of time to the far flung future; inviolate in a correct matching between gender expression and core identity.” I like to imagine these folks speak in long, unwieldy sentences, just like I do, at least on paper. The reality of course is that to most, good old ‘mom-jeans-Mike’ is suddenly wearing a dress for some reason. There was something from HR or something, but busy and only skimmed it over. The truth for most, and as a friend put it best, “I have no stake in this game”. Our monumental paradigm shift means as much as the going rate for Chia Pets on eBay.
My point, because I chose to never make it before the fourth paragraph to ensure emotional investment in reading to the end, is that we as trans folk can’t expect the world to care that much, or even really notice, our monumental change. For the majority, especially casual acquaintances and people at work, aside from the juicy gossip lead up, it ranks about the same as someone who was pretty big and suddenly lost a ton of weight, or maybe went from a hippy Jesus look to a completely shaved skull. At best a novelty, at worst not even a blip. Wait for it… OK, here it is: it is much to our collective benefit to give people a long time to make the shift in their heads.
You know that you are female, or male in the case of FTMs, but it’s going to be a while before others make this flip. Yes, many think this is some sort of delusion, attempt to fool everyone, or even a bizarre game, but that isn’t true of most. Even so, it takes time. I’m not saying it means grin and bear a super size portion of indignity and disrespect, but it does mean not getting all snippety when the wrong pronoun is used. It takes a while for people to make the switch and get comfortable, especially in personal spaces like bathrooms. Replacing Good Time Charlie with Sensitive Charlene is hard to do, and it’s not going to be a huge priority.
Be patient and wait for people to catch up. If they simply don’t want to, that’s one thing. Even if they really, really do though, it’s not going to happen overnight.