I had a dream last night that I was talking to some new friends, and I realized partway through the conversation that I had been mis-gendering Ezekiel the whole time. I felt terrible. I can’t remember the last time that happened — how could I go through a whole conversation getting it wrong? And these people were new friends — were they even going to believe the authenticity of Ezekiel’s gender given that his own spouse couldn’t gender him correctly? Yes, I realize it was a dream, but as soon as I woke up and remembered it I felt guilty, and apparently I still feel guilty.
Apparently I think my responsibility to support Ezekiel’s gender extends even to my unconscious mind. If I saw him as a different gender in my dream, where I (clearly) wasn’t trying to maintain a consistent view of his gender, does that reflect what I really think? Do I still not really see him as a man? For the past year, I have had a low-level fear about my own perception of Ezekiel’s gender. I saw his male self very early on in his process, but I also saw him as female for over 10 years, and all of those images are still in my head. They scare me because I want one spouse, not two. I want Ezekiel’s gender to feel comfortably male to me, not like something I have to manage. Really, I want him to pass in my head.
Saying it that way, I see that I am asking for too much. That old female image is a bit like a ghost, but I can’t do an exorcism and remove that other person from my head. Even if I could, it would take too many precious memories with it. Instead, I have to live with the fact that the Ezekiel in my head is less binary than the Ezekiel that lives in real life. My guess is that he has to live with the same thing — a remembered self that doesn’t match up with the self he wishes he remembered. But I don’t have to worry that the old name or old pictures will get into my head and mess up my image of Ezekiel, because my image of him contains all of him. I still have the person I first met twelve years ago and started to fall for, the one that I talked to on the phone for hours until I fell asleep because we lived across the country from each other, the one I married, the one who in labor and delivery rooms caught my daughter and gave birth to my son, the one who discovered some gender issues, and the one who took on a new name and started to live in his true gender. They are all the same person, and if I pull up a sweet memory in my head that takes me back to a time when I used different pronouns, that’s OK. That isn’t a female ghost that I need to exorcise. If I pull that memory close, I can see just who it is, and it’s the same man I woke up with this morning. I think that may have been what last night’s dream came to tell me.