I posted last week to complain about the reaction I got when trying to explain Izzy’s name change over the phone. It went badly.
Well now I need to post to say how amazing the reaction was at the ENT department this week.
Izzy and I drove across town for her hearing re-check (she had a grommet replaced and we wanted to see if that improved her hearing, it has), on the way, I considered my approach. I hoped it would be as easy as adding her “preferred name” to a form.
We arrived on the fourth floor to a bustling reception. The small waiting room held about 30 people.
Izzy looked gorgeous in a green cotton dress with butterfly sleeves and her well scuffed, well loved ballet slippers. A little pink clip holding her hair to the side, she looked like any other little girl, and I knew I needed to head off any confusion that might be sparked by a boys name being called in that over flowing waiting room.
My smile is set, hands unclenched and I have a quick sip of water before I approach the middle aged man at the desk…”Hi!” I say as I slip Izzy’s appointment letter across the desk.
Step one achieved, I’ve not needed to use Izzy’s previous name.
Breathe. Smile. Engage step two..”Ah, do you have the facility for adding a “preferred name” for a patient? It’s just that if the name on there is called out my child may be confused, um, maybe distressed” I babble. Babbling was not part of the plan. Babbling isn’t cool.
“Well” says the middle aged man at the desk, pulling a sticky note from a pad, “we don’t have an official method of adding a preferred name, but if you give the name to me, I’ll make sure the technician knows and uses it when she calls your child.”
“Oh, OK, thanks” I noticed he used the term “child” even though he had Izzy’s notes in front of them which had a boy’s name clearly marked. He could have made a point of saying “your son” or using the name. He didn’tt. Instead, he sat eyes down, pen poised over the pink sticky note, quietly waiting.
“The name is …..” . I spell it out. Then, deep breath, I add the second part of Izzy’s name, leaving no doubt what I was giving him – a girl’s name. Then I said, in a slightly quieter voice “we use feminine pronouns too”.
To this man’s absolute credit, he looked up, smiled, and said ” lovely. I’ll make sure that’s the name that’s called. Please take a seat.”. Next customer.
And he was true to his word. In that room full of other parents and kids, my child’s preference was honored. When the technician called her name, she was not “outed” in front of strangers, as she could have been. She was allowed to retain her dignity. Nobody batted an eyelash, and that’s how it should be.
The technician, whom we had seen three long months ago, just before Izzy transitioned, was equally respectful. Not once did she cast a questioning look at me. Not once did she fail to use Izzy’s preferred name or pronouns. The only reference to Izzy’s transition was her response to me saying “A lot has changed since our last visit, the behavioral issues have resolved themselves”. She said ” I admire your strength to do the right thing by your child”. When we left her parting words were “I wish you and your family kindness and respect. Izzy deserves it”.