Today I decided to stop calling Ezekiel “my wife.” I realized I have become increasingly uncomfortable talking about Ezekiel because I don’t know how to refer to him/her. I’m trying to use the name Ezekiel when in private with Ezekiel only and to use Ezekiel and pronouns he/him with the very very very few friends who know about the name. But today I realized that I have to stop referring to Ezekiel as my wife, even among people who know nothing about what is going on with her gender. It just doesn’t feel right to me anymore, no matter what the outcome of Ezekiel’s process.
It may seem like a silly thing that I shouldn’t get worked up over, but it feels big to me. As I’ve said before, I love presenting as queer, and talking about my family feels like a liberating act to me because my family is so queer. I talk about Ezekiel often, always referring to her/him as “my wife,” particularly when I am introduced to new people, when I talk to my students, or when I meet new parents at the school or park. Partially I do this because being in a relationship with a woman and part of a two-mom family is a big part of my life, and I want people to know who I am. I also do it because I love the opportunity to queer marriage, partnership, and family. I’ve gotten a lot of double takes as a woman when I talk about my wife and I like that.
But now I’ll be using “spouse” or “partner” and will likely continue to do so even if/when Ezekiel transitions. Using these gender-neutral terms is a clue those paying attention that I may be either queer or queer friendly, but does nothing to shake up the clueless. I think for that I’m going to have to start getting a bit more creative.
I just asked Ezekiel do take on the same practice of using spouse/partner and he agreed, which makes me a little happy. It may feel uncomfortable for a while, but I’ve made myself a promise to use the gender neutral terms, and that comes with a consequence of five pushups if I slip up.