Q: Where do you go to see a professional about going on hormones?
A: Starting the process to begin hormone therapy is a big decision, and it can take some research to navigate what is right for each individual. While I cannot refer you to a specific person (the whole legal/professional promotion side of things), I would suggest the PFLAG website (www.pflagbf.org) — their resource page lists local support systems. Washington’s Community Resource hotline (dialing 2-1-1) can also get you in touch with a referral specialist who can connect you with someone local to help you start the process and keep your identity safe. Additionally, Planned Parenthood does hormone treatment, and is always a great source of information and help. I would also suggest finding a good local therapist and/or support group to help you navigate the journey, as it can be isolating and lonely if you feel like you are walking a new path alone. A national support organization list can be found at glaad.org/transgender/resources. Locally, we have the Uptown Rainbow Coalition and the PFLAG organization who can help you find support groups and resources.
Q: If I don't know someone's gender, or what pronouns to use, how should I refer to them? I'm really trying, but I'm afraid of getting it wrong.
A: Thank you for caring enough to ask. This is an important question, as so many people are unsure what to do or how to proceed; the fear of “getting it wrong” prevents some people from even trying. The first and easiest way to find out is to simply ask. It is not considered an insult to ask what pronouns someone uses — it isn’t even considered ‘odd’ like it may have been a decade or two (or three) ago. Asking is a caring way to ensure you are honoring them as human beings and trying to get their gender identity correct. If the person in question is not around, or you are too shy or embarrassed to ask, neutral expressions are best. Default to ‘they/them’ if you are unsure, and use ‘folx’ instead of ‘guys’.
A note about using ‘they/them’: it does take some getting used to. Many of us were raised with only binary terms and default to them out of habit. In the beginning, it needs to be a conscious effort on your part. Being aware of the pronouns you are using in your speech takes effort. Make the effort. If you slip up, try to immediately correct yourself and apologize. And if the person in question corrects you, a simple “Thank you for letting me know” is always the best response, and repeating your sentence using the correct pronoun helps solidify it in your mind. It becomes insulting when it happens repeatedly, so the key is learning from your mistakes and not making them constantly correct you. It will become easier. Thank you for making the effort.
Patti (she/her) is an (almost) lifelong Richland resident, a local yoga teacher, and a Hanford employee. She is married to an amazing man, is a mother of three and stepmother of two, and a lover of multiple pets.
Patti has walked her own journey through identity and been the support for others on their journeys; she understands the need for — and the feeling of — searching for support. Patti is the current Chair of PFLAG Benton Franklin, and has served on past boards and committees in organizations dealing with domestic violence, addiction, leadership, and business.
With a passion for her community, family, friends, and helping others, Patti is here to answer all your questions with the heart of a loving mother, but the forthrightness necessary when tackling difficult conversations. You are welcome to ask for guidance and advice in any topic that is near and dear to your heart, and know that you will be heard and respected in this corner.
Please note: Patti is unable to give legal or medical advice, but will instead point you to resources in our community where you can seek those answers.