Oct 10, 2012
I have good reason to believe, in most countries of the world, my name gives a clear indication that I’m female, owner (or carrier?) of XX chromosomes. In the past, I’ve used the title “Miss” and “Ms” interchangeably and still there wasn’t an issue of mistaken gender even for someone who hasn’t yet met me in person to confirm that I look like one.
So imagine the great fun I’m having in France where Lilian, sans E à la fin, is famously masculine in nature. This country even proves it by putting forth a famous international export in the form of Lilian Thuram. Here, the pronounciation is not how you’d imagine it’ll be pronounced elsewhere. It’s a guttural-sounding “Lee-Leon” that’s correct given the orthographe.
Liliane is how they like to change things up here for me.
A travel agent once refused to change the name on a flight booking by my ex because she absolutely refused to believe a girl would go by the E-less version of the name. Luckily those were the days when flying was a relatively breezy process and I managed to travel even while the name on the ticket mismatched that on my passport.
I have sent text messages while searching for housing last year and the landlord/estate agent thought they were having an appointment to show their apartments to a guy, thus faced a moment of confusion to have a girl meeting them instead.
Administrative staff at where I work have incorrectly entered my email address to the system but I managed to get that change back fairly quickly. Anyone asking for my prénom nowadays would be met with the response “Lilian, L-I-L-I-A-N, sans E”.
But what happened when I have forms to fill instead of talking to someone in person?
My first tax assessment just came through and lo and behold, they had addressed me as “M Lau Lilian”. Never mind that I have ticked “Mademoiselle” on the form when I filled it in. That name can only means I’ve mistaken my own gender. I am now pondering how to get this status corrected. I am always a little anxious when official paperworks contain even the most minor of errors. In this case, I don’t even know if it’s just an error of salutation, or if they have also entered my gender information as “male” made on assumption based on my name. Inaccurate information like this in govermental database makes me twitchy for a variety of reasons…
A rather hillarious moment last weekend when I was at the dentist. As this was my first time there, I have to fill in a form so details can be entered into their database. Of course, they got my first name wrong, which I quickly spotted on the screen of the computer when I was in the consultancy room. I had to ask the reception to correct it before leaving but a prescription has been issued to me prior to the correction. Having not given it a second thought, along I went to the pharmacy with the prescription.
With the prescription in hand, the pharmacist asked for whom I was picking up the medications. “Ah, it’s my prescription.” “Oh yes? It says here it’s for a monsieur but I guess they made a mistake” She showed me the piece of paper and look, it says “Monsieur Lau Liliane”.
So now I get addressed as a man while owning a feminine name? ;)