03 January 2014

What Becky Kent Got With Her Divorce Papers

It's one thing when people are bigoted or hateful, or merely ignorant.

But there are some who simply feel that they must mix belligerence, spitefulness or simply aggression with the meanness they exhibit toward people who simply happen to be different from themselves--or how they perceive themselves.

I am thinking now of someone who, the last time I spoke to him , insisted on calling me by my old name and using male titles and pronouns (and "Dude") when talking to me--a year after my surgery.

Nearly every trans person I know has had a similar experience with at least one person, whether he or she is a family member or former friend or colleague.  I can understand that some people simply cannot adjust their perception of someone they knew, or thought they knew.  On the other hand, I will never understand why someone has to take digs at a complete stranger, as some workers in a Scottish court did:

Becky Kent found this post-it attached to her divorce papers.  It reads, "Colin It's right! (sic).  Man- changed his name to woman's name.  Identity declaration attached!!!  Takes all sorts!!"

As someone who's spent a fair amount of time teaching English, I couldn't help but notice that there are six exclamation points in a post-it with sixteen words.  I've seen advertising copy and supermarket tabloid headlines with a lower ratio of exclamation points to words.  But that, of course, is not the most offensive thing about it.

What was probably even more offensive than the post-it, though, is something I didn't see:  the letter that accompanied the divorce papers.  It was addressed "Dear Sir."

Ms. Kent seemed more disappointed than hurt.  She'd moved from her native Wisconsin to Scotlan, she said, because she thought people in her adopted homeland were "forward thinking" on gender issues.  

For its part, the Scottish court issued an apology.  Still, even if you're not offended by the salutation of the letter or the vapid writing on the post-it, you have to be upset or astounded by the lack of professionalism--or sheer stupidity--of whoever left it attached to Ms. Kent's divorce papers.