The things people say to trans people range from thoughtless, to intruding, to downright inappropriate. So here is a partial list of the things I never expected to hear in the 6+ months of being pretty much totally out, and why you should keep them to yourself. Sometimes it’s bad phrasing, sometimes transphobic undertones, and sometimes just ignorance. Either way, think before you ask.
I don’t usually swear on my blog, which is weird because when changing my name my second choice for a middle was Fucking…, but I swear a little in this one to make my emotions clear, and to keep the integrity of these questions as they were asked. So…
-So does that make your dick grow? (estrogen)
Why would estrogen make my dick grow, first of all? Second, I’m obviously not too fond of it, do you really think I want to talk about it? Genital questions in general are a bad idea, because genitals do not make a man or woman, anyway.
-When are you gonna *schwingg* (with knife motion to crotch)
Again, I really don’t want to talk about my genitals with you. Or at all. Also, cutting it off would be counter productive, as they kinda need that to make other parts. Plus, didn’t need that image.
-You’re still technically a man…
And you’re technically a giant asshole. I technically have typical characteristics of a male, and a penis (because we all know that’s what you meant), but I’m not anything but a woman.
-You’re still [old name] to me, so I’m calling you that.
You just became douchebag to me, so I’m calling you that. By not using my name you’re disregarding my identity, disrespecting me, and telling me you’re more important than me. Fuck off, please.
-Are you going all the way?
Again, a question about my personal downstairs business. This one is especially offensive because “all the way” implies I’ll never be a real woman without a vagina. Are you going all the way? Over there and out of my life? As a solid rule, unless you really know me, like I’ve cried in front of you without shame know me, don’t ask about my bits.
-I’ve never known someone like you in person before.
I’ve never known someone like you before, eith…oh… You mean a transsexual. I’m not a unicorn (or am I?), I’m a person. That said, you probably have. Most of us don’t announce ourselves…
-Do you call wearing women’s clothes drag or are they just clothes?
The larger issue here is that we need to stop gendering clothing. They’re my clothes. What do you call it when you dress? I’m a woman, so dressing like a woman is not drag. No matter what I wear I’m dressing like a woman.
-Being a woman isn’t that great, you know.
That’s good, because I’m not transitioning for a better social standing. If you think being a woman is bad, try being a trans woman. I chose to be a woman as much as you did. It just took me a little longer to realize it.
-That name doesn’t suit you.
I got to pick my name, and I thought about it for a long time. You were given your name before you were even a person. By that logic, I think my name suits me fine, thanks. Maybe you should change yours.
-Why does that girl sound like a boy?
This is one I’ve heard from a few different kids. And it’s not their fault. Again, I may not sound like a cis female yet, but it’s my voice, and I’m a woman. It’s the parental reactions that bother me. How nobody ever explains, but instead shushes them and shuffles them away from me. Stop teaching your kids that what I’m doing can’t be talked about. Explain it to them, and tell them it’s okay. Nothing will change if kids are educated to be bigots.
You too? Really though, for what? Are we celebrating the pain in the ass I’m going through just to be myself? The money I’m spending (that I don’t really have to spend) that will stimulate the economy? I don’t get it.
-It takes balls to do what you’re doing.
Uhh…what? That’s precisely what I didn’t want to hear. You’re trying to be a woman, so I’m going to metophorocally remind you that gender norms still exist, woman are still the lower class, and that you still have balls. Great, thanks. I’m doing what I have to do. It has nothing to do with “balls.” Be miserable and uncomfortable my whole life, or live as a girl. Those are the choices.
I didn’t mention names because I know not everyone meant something by these questions. The point is, think before you ask. I’ll answer questions, no problem. But only if you’re asking for the right reasons, and not just because you’re curious about the state of my genitals. Unless you’re sleeping with me, giving me surgery money, or I bring it up, it is just best to stay away from the surgery question. I repeat – don’t talk to me about my fucking dick, please! I’m not a sideshow, I’m a human, and I’d rather not be boiled down to a body part I wish I didn’t have.
Help me fight like a grrrl by thinking about what your question really means before you ask it.
Bonus: People say some really cool things too, though. It wouldn’t be fair to not mention a few of those.
-I was trying to think of your birth name the other day and I couldn’t.
For someone who knew me as a boy to forget my old name is amazing. To them, I’m just Natalie. That’s all I can ask of another person.
-I was worried I’d call you the wrong thing and disrespect you.
This is important. Someone cared enough about my new name and pronouns (and me) to actually worry about calling me the wrong thing. I’m sorry I made them worry, but if that doesn’t make you feel good…
-Do you want me to change your name in my phone?
-So that means we should call you she now?
Again, these two reflect a similar thing – respect. People caring enough to try to make me comfortable and do the right thing by me.
Maybe we are making progress as a society after all.