Is this together?

Carli and I consider ourselves so lucky.  Although we live in a state whose legislature does literally nothing to protect any rights for transgender people, we have experienced very little outright mean spirited behavior from people. Sure, we sometimes think people are having a laugh at our expense and we see a few sideways glances.  We have not been targets for the deplorable hatred and violence so prevalent within the transgender community, though, and for this we are incredibly thankful. 

Our day to day lives are boring, we are the first ones to admit it! But we like it that way. We relish our quiet time in the country, with the dogs, the garden, and the mundane tasks that come along with homeownership. We do enjoy going out for dinner and drinks occasionally. Which brings me to my most recent observation. 

Since Carli came out and started living authentically as female we have been asked “is this going to be together” just about every time we’ve asked for the check after dinner.  What does this mean?! 

Not once in all the years we were presenting together as husband and wife/man and woman can I remember being asked this question.  Now that we present as wife and wife/woman and woman all of a sudden this is in question. There is no doubt when we walk into an establishment that we are together. We hold hands all the time. We sit close together.  We are clearly a couple, at least I feel that we look like a couple. So why this question?

To be clear, the wait staff we have encountered have been exceptional. There is rarely an incidence of misgendering, Carli is almost always called “ma’am” and we are collectively referred to as “ladies.”  Although I would prefer non-gender specific terminology, these people are legitimately trying to be considerate and have worked hard to make her feel comfortable and welcome.  So when it’s time to pay the bill and we ask for just one check, I almost always give my credit card instead of letting Carli pay. Why?  Because all of her cards still have her previous male name on them.  Why, after seeing the waitstaff work so hard to be kind to us over the course of the evening, would we do something that would likely make them rethink their take on our situation?  Why would we  open the door for someone to come back to the table and thank Mr. Funk for coming in?  Letting Carli give a credit card that no longer reflects her identity puts all of us in an awkward position, so unless Carli has cash in her purse I will continue to pay for dinner. 

Some may think this is unnecessary and the name printed on the card shouldn’t matter. Some may think Carli should just change her name and get all new cards but that’s not as easy as you might think, for a variety of reasons.  As I have said in previous posts, that’s a story for another day. At the end of a wonderful evening out together, we are grateful for the attentiveness of well-trained, socially aware staff and we will continue to tip them well for a job well done. We hope that with each interaction, each normal-as-the-day-is-long exchange we have with people outside the transgender community, we are raising awareness and visibility. 

We thoroughly enjoy spending a night out exploring new restaurants, trying local microbrews and visiting establishments we haven’t been to before. I imagine most couples decide who will pay the bill based on whose paycheck came most recently or by an archaic system that outlines responsibilities by gender role. Carli and I use a completely different system, clearly, and that’s okay……for now.  She will have to pick up the tab sometime!!

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