By Charles Hayes
Today is trans day of visibility, so I’d like to take this time and post an absolute NOVEL of things not to say when you learn someone is trans, things you could say, what to keep in mind moving forward, and most importantly WHY.I would like to firstly say, if you have every done any of these or said any of them to me- I get it, it’s a learning curve for sure, I don’t take it personally. Also this is by no means a complete list, I might add more later as I think of them.
What not to say when someone tells you they’re trans:
“Wow, I would have never known”
-Why, it implies trans people are inherently ‘obvious’ and I know it’s said with good intentions but it comes off as insulting
“So do you have a dick?”
-Well for one there are plenty of better ways to ask, but more importantly, surgery doesn’t define a trans person, some can’t afford it. Some don’t want it, everyone’s journey is different
“Well, that doesn’t make any sense”
-It’s not a trans persons job to educate you. If I said my favorite color is blue and you don’t agree with that, my favorite color is still blue whether is makes sense to you or not
“What do your parents think”
-For many it’s a very hard subject, people get disowned, unless you hear them talk about their parents, it’s better not to bring it up
“So does that mean your partner is actually–“
-Why, the answer is no, it’s just no, it’s not your place to determine anyone else’s sexuality or identity, I identify as a man and my husband is attracted to me as a man, just because I also used to be a child doesn’t make him a pedophile, that’s not who I am now.
“So what was your name?”
-Again that’s not who I am now, most don’t like to be reminded, also for me personally, it’s a little insulting I’ve never had a legal name change and I never plan to, everyone’s journey is different and you can’t expect everyone to have a previous name
“You’re so brave.”
– I’m not brave for being trans. I’m being happy, you could argue I’m brave for putting myself at risk of a hate crime by talking about it, cause you never know who is a safe person or who they might tell (we’ll get to that later)
What you could say when someone tells you they are trans:
“Have I been using the right pronouns for you?”
-Gender identity and gender expression is different, if someone looks female, that doesn’t confirm their pronouns are ‘she/her’, just as when men do drag, they will use different pronouns on stage, so it’s always good to check!
“When did you come out as trans?”
-Ok this one is a little long winded, but stay with me, when I tell people I’m trans they usually assume I’m just starting my transition (because again, the stereotype that trans people should be obvious) I say I’m trans and I have a boy name, look and sound like a boy, people just assume ‘oh, so you want to be a girl’ asking when someone came out will usually yield a much better result than asking “so what direction are you”, you also can’t assume that everyone CAN transition, they could have autoimmune disorders, they might not be financially stable to, or it could be unsafe for them socially
“Thank you for trusting me with that.”
-This shows you know the dangers they potentially put themselves in, trans people get threatened daily just for existing
What to keep in mind moving forward!
-just because you know doesn’t mean everyone knows, as I touched on a few times, coming out as trans can be dangerous, what if you think someone knows and you talk about it, they didn’t know and now they treat me differently.. or even violently
-everyone’s journey is different, not everyone wants surgery, not everyone wants hormones, it’s not your place to invalidate their identity just because it doesn’t match what you think a trans person should look like/do. Trans people have lost jobs, shelter, and even their life by coming out to the wrong person, and that person in turn telling someone else
-You have probably met plenty of trans people in your life and never known it, we are all just trying to be happy in life and go about it all the same
-Google is your best friend, if you are not comfortable directly asking a trans person something, google it, DO NOT go ask that persons best friend or significant other because ‘it’s too embarrassing to ask, but I’m sure they know’. Google it, I’m sure you can find the answer
As always, thank you for taking the time to learn about this and I appreciate you all!