Dear Mr. Hannah

I get misgendered in about half of my face-to-face encounters in businesses or medical offices. And I’ve only just started working on my voice, so I get misgendered on the phone 100% of the time.

First of all, who taught all these people to say “sir” and “ma’am”? It’s like the 1950s every time I have to talk on the phone. And they say “sir” and “ma’am” all the time. Like continuously throughout the calls. I’ll say, “I’m not sir,” and they’ll say, “Oh, sorry,” and then call me “sir” fifteen seconds later.

Today, I had one of those calls, but a few minutes before that, I’d opened a piece of mail from a dental specialist I went to, and it was addressed to Mr. Hannah Phillips. That was done on purpose. I certainly didn’t check any box that said “Mr.” when I was filling out the dozen forms every medical office requires. So, someone in that dental office added “Mr.” on purpose.

Whatever, I’m never going back there anyway, so I sent them a check along with the paperwork they sent me, and I circled “Mr.” and wrote, “Really? Assholes.” and stuck it into the envelope.

Then I opened an envelope with a check from my medical flexible spending account, and it was made out to me, but with my old (male) middle name.

So then I had to go through another misgendering call, during which I was called “sir” a couple of times but ignored it. They said they couldn’t remove the middle name because “That’s what’s on the paperwork.” I had verified who I was, as you have to for those kinds of calls, so I said, “Well, who do you believe, the paperwork or the person telling you they don’t have a middle name?”

They started to answer by saying, “Sir…” and I couldn’t take it anymore. I yelled at them to stop calling me “sir,” asked what the fuck was wrong with them (rhetorical question, that), and hung up.

I suppose the problem was those few things happening one after the other, but I don’t usually yell at anyone on the phone. This happens to me all the time, and I go with the flow of the world, but today, my brain just said, “Oh, hell no!” and started moving my mouth.

It’s a lot sometimes.

I mean, it’s hard for me to really blame them. Trust me, I know what my voice sounds like. It’s a constant source of disappointment and insecurity. I just wonder why companies, or the people who work in customer-facing roles, persist with the dusty old 19th-century honorifics.

I bid you goodmorrow, kind madame!

They may as well say that.

So it goes.

heart break


The manager of the dental office wrote back to me. A heartfelt little handwritten note apologizing and saying she doesn’t run her office that way, so sorry for the mistake, etc. Which I appreciated. She also included a $25 Starbucks gift card, which was also nice, I guess, but I’m weird, so I had mixed feelings about it.

Is $25 the price of my dignity? When I complained about the “Mr.” I wasn’t looking for payment. I wasn’t looking for anything, just saying what I had to say to keep my sanity.

Like I said, I’m weird. I have to stop overthinking and start accepting the occasional kind gestures for what they are: kind gestures. She didn’t have to send a note, and she certainly didn’t have to go buy a Starbucks card to include in it, so I appreciate her for that.

On to the next one.


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