Emerson Sloane Posts

Safe Passage

For as long as I’ve been writing, and that’s been for about twenty years or so, reader, I’ve made my contact information available for people to reach out to me with questions and comments about what I write.

A couple of months ago someone sent me a message through Instagram saying that I have privilege because I can pass as a cisgender woman and also asked why I haven’t used that privilege by being more visible in the trans community. I take every question seriously—well, all the serious ones, at least, so I’ll take my time here to answer.

Passing is complicated. Even the word is complicated. I don’t use it. I blend. And there was, of course, a time when I didn’t. Being misgendered hurts. And there are trans women who are routinely misgendered throughout their transition and I’m acutely aware of that because of my own experiences early in my own transition. Is there privilege in blending? I suppose there is. Does it make my life easier? Undeniably. When I’m out in public, my identity as a woman is not questioned or rebutted at a restaurant or at a grocery store, at the clinic or anywhere I go. It gives me access. It gives me peace of mind.

The Thing About Essentia Health

Imagine, if you will, being trans and you don’t go by your birth name anymore — and the clinic knows that — and you arrive at an Essentia Health clinic in Duluth for, let’s say an eye appointment.

“Hmmmm. Can you spell your last name again?”

“Hmmmmm. What is your date of birth, again, ma’am?”

“I’m just not finding you. How about your street address?

Also, for the sake of this scenario, there are four other people behind you impatiently waiting to register for their own appointments. You start to feel a bead of sweat pop up on your forehead.

“Can you spell your last name again?” Nothing. The registration lady calls for help. A supervisor slides her chair over. You’re feeling a little hot. Isn’t it humid in this damn clinic, today?


Hey, Are You Married?

I had just crossed lazily through the intersection toward Wells Fargo Center, gently swinging my bag in the late afternoon heat. I had also decided that day to make friends with the hips I had developed over the past six months and lean into them … literally.

I saw him, 30-ish, scruffy, with a dirty T-shirt and a backward hat, leaning against the building. Our city has its contingent of panhandlers. They add a little paprika to our lives and I didn’t pay him any mind — until he called out to me as I passed by him.

“What?!” I asked, incredulously while laughing, stopped in my tracks.

‘I asked if you were married,” he answered with a crooked smile.

“Yes,” I replied and started to walk away. He wasn’t done, though. “Can I get your number and text you?” he yelled at me.

I turned around. “HAPPILY married!” I shot back and spun around on my heel and walked off, laughing.

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