When I was a kid I used to wonder how Wonder Woman found her invisible jet. I mean seriously? I have trouble finding things that are visible while she opened a see through door and hopped right on in. Now I wonder if all those rumours are right and she really is a lesbian because, in that case, she would have had all sorts of practice in being invisible. Being LGBTQ brings its own invisibility.
Several years ago I went out shopping with friends of mine. They were shopping, I just was along for the ride. I’m seriously one of those “you can take me anywhere” friends. You’re filling your gas tank? Sure, I’ll come along. You’re buying a new bed? No problem.
In this case it was the latter. My friends M and P were in the market for a new bed and were going to be in my area so of course I’d join them. We mosied into a big Canadian bed and mattress store and I hung back while they priced mattresses and pondered firm versus extra support versus memory foam.
“Hello! May I assist you?”
A clerk came running up and immediately began talking to P and myself, completely ignoring M. This despite the fact that M and P were side by side actively discussing a mattress while I hung back at least five feet. But M and P are both male… invisible relationship.
The clerk finally clued into my complete disinterest and M’s persistent questions and started talking to M but there are layers of invisibility and M’s in a wheelchair… so theirs is a double invisible relationship. It took several additional minutes and some blatant “I’m going to be in this bed too” comments from P before the clerk clued in that P was not some sort of personal assistant of M’s but, in fact, his partner. They didn’t end up buying from there.
This week I got my official documents from the hospital, including my intake paperwork from the on call psychiatrist. Back in June I’d second, third, and fourth guessed myself. Had I really seen her flinch? She’s a psychiatrist! She works with troubled people every single day! She had to be more professional, she must have just leaned back. But no, she actually flinched when she realized I’m queer*.
Would you look at that… I not only had an imaginary boyfriend but a pretend relationship too. Does it get any better than that?
No, but it does get worse. While she was awkward around me and invalidated my relationship, she completely invalidated L’s whole self. I was invisible but trans people are pretty much invisible squared. Although maybe it’s less invisibility and more buried under tonnes of total misinformation.
Want to know what the best way is to combat this invisibility? Don’t assume. Don’t assume the person with breasts is female and the person with an adam’s apple is male. Ask if someone’s in a relationship rather than saying “So, do you have a boyfriend?” And please don’t pair little children up into cutesy relationships, let them simply be friends. That’s one of the things I’m grateful for with my parents. They never assumed I was dating my best friend, they just let me play with him. Actually, my two closest friends were male and I never thought of dating either of them.
*wanders off to ponder whether every LGBTQ person has their own invisible jet and we just haven’t found them yet*
* The psychiatrist was completely wrong about how she realized my queerness. Having a trans boyfriend did not make me queer, falling in love with him when he was bigender and half-female did.