Question Six: What common insensitivities do you encounter being trans?
March 28, 2013 § 1 Comment
What common mistakes or insensitivities do you encounter from well-intentioned friends who want to be supportive? i.e. not spiteful bigotry, but accidents.
Natacha: In most cases, one of the main problems is people asking about one’s genitals. “Have you had the op then?” These are very personal questions and will generally be met with hostility from trans people whether or not they have had surgery, part surgery or no surgery. Not all trans people have surgery by any means.
In many cases people also therefore often make assumptions about trans people’s surgical status or surgical intentions. These assumptions should not be made, we prefer to be treated as individuals not pieces of meat. You do not need to know about our genital configuration unless you are intending to have sex with us, in which case you will find out in good time.
Please also remember that trans women do NOT have their genitals ‘cut off’ IF they have gender confirmation surgery they have their genitals reconfigured.
Naith: I was once referred to as “convincing” – which, while well-meaning, stung like hell. Don’t ever call anyone that.
Roz: Thinking you don’t know about the health risks and haven’t considered all the theoretical objections.
Maeve: As a cis partner, I have been asked some pretty shocking questions about our sex life from people who I am certain would not have asked those questions if I was dating a cis person. I have heard many horror stories about trans people being asked about their genitals, extent of surgery and their birth name. I would be inclined to say that all of these things are not for you to ask. If someone wants to volunteer information then that is a different story. Would you ask your cis friend about their genitals?
CN: Experiences of misgendering which aren’t just straightforward incidences of using the wrong pronoun (or noun) – particularly when it comes to romantic/intimate situations. For example – if a gay man is interested in me, it hurts when friends will say that I’ve ‘converted him’ – converted him how? Most people have never been with/considered being with someone who isn’t male or female, and it’s a touchy area fraught with all kinds of difficulties (at least in my experience) – does that mean I’m converting everyone? Or do you mean ‘Wow, you have a vagina, and gay men don’t like those’? Please be sensitive about sensitive issues.
That’s what it often comes down to – weird comments and probing (sorry) questions about my body. Obviously, it can be a fine line. My sense of humour is pretty bleak, and don’t want the fact that I’m trans to be off limits for me and my friends to joke about, because nothing else is. But, still, there’s a difference between an empathetic yet horrible joke (which I love) and something that exposes a gulf of understanding between us. A friend once told me ‘I always forget that you don’t have a cock, because you’re so dominant’ – yeah. Stuff like that stings.