How to respond to someone coming out as trans* to you.I am both hesitant and eager to write this. Guaranteed, someone will have something to say about what I say here. But I sincerely hope my intended audience - friends on Fbook and readers of my blog who are wanting info - will appreciate this.
But before I start anything, I've decided I'm going to go for much shorter blog posts than I would have in the past. So my Trans 101 is going to be broken up in lessons for you that are bite size chunks of information you can get in five to ten minutes of your time - verse, the posts of the past that can take over an hour to read.
So I'm going to open my Trans 101 for you with a question to you, and use it as a way to show you the complexity about questions on gender and sexuality. I'm doing this so that you can understand that I can not write the perfect thesis on these topics for you. Nonetheless, I will do my very best to share this information with you, so that maybe together we will help society become a better place together through our informed efforts.
Define for me please: Masculinity and Femininity; without using references to the other in their definitions.
From that, if I were to collect your answers, I would have as many unique answers as I would the number of people who answered. Honestly, we're not going to land an answer that we will all agree on, probably not even an answer 50% of us agree on.
We all do know masculinity and femininity when we see it. That much, we may actually mostly agree on. I hope you can appreciate how difficult these subjects are to put down in precise definitions. We do know a lot of science, but we're more than robots, so the human side of our reality - the social aspects - must also be taken into account along with the physical facts.
Let's get started!!
If you are going to read only one thing, then the most important thing to know is shown in the following conversation I made up as an example for you.
Your Friend comes out to you as transgender just a moment ago. This is how the conversation should roughly go on your part, so you can be a respectful and accepting person. And it is actually almost universally agreed upon by the trans community, that indeed, this is what we would appreciate and hope to hear from accepting people.
You: "How are you doing?"
Nikki: "Good. Can I tell you something? I trust you and I want you to know."
You: "Sure, anything."
Nikki: "I'm transgender. I'm specifically transsexual."
You: "What are your preferred pronouns?"
Nikki: "Female: she and her."
blaa, blaa, blaa
Okay, you get it I hope.
"What are your preferred pronouns?"
Another common form of the question is: "What are your pronouns?" or "What pronouns do you use?" Either question speaks volumes of your intelligence and acceptance. From there, you use only ever female pronouns with me and/ or with anyone else you're speaking to about me. If you meet a transgender man - a female to male (opposite to me) - then you use only male pronouns. If they're genderqueer - neither male nor female - they will tell you which pronouns they prefer - will be usually "they," but there are others.
If someone you know, isn't being polite, and still insisting on referring to me with my old male name or male pronouns, then please be a real friend and correct them; and, even if they have the nerve to keep on insulting me, please have the back-bone to keep respecting me in front of them regardless - I would do the same for you in a heartbeat.
I'm an out transsexual female. I don't think you should go around telling everyone you meet about me, but with people from my past you know who knew me also, then by all means, please treat me with respect and address me as Nikki and use female pronouns with them. Even in past situations when you thought I was a male, and I was still trying to be a male, please use Nikki and female pronouns.
|I trust that my friends will learn, grow, and see me for who I really am.|
Friend 1: "Remember when Nikki was in the Navy?"
Friend 2: "Yeah. Didn't she study martial arts?"
Friend 1: "Uh huh, she used to be pretty mean :P"
Female Friend 1: "Didn't you date Nikki?"
Female Friend 2: "Yea. She was living as a male at the time, but I guess in reality she was my girlfriend. But she played the relationship role of a boyfriend with me."
Okay, I get it, never use the old male name or male pronouns in regards to you, but I have a question: Nikki, what happens if I slip up? Because you know, I've known you as your male name and used male pronouns for a long time, as in 20 years or so.
A solid question. Politely, and quickly correct yourself. Don't make a big deal of it. But don't think you should not correct yourself. It is insanely difficult for me to come out to this world which happens to be so hateful and fearful of me, and it was insanely difficult for me to accept this biology I was given. If you want to be a real friend of mine, please put in that effort to see and accept the real me.
Nikki to Friend 1: "Want to play a video game?"
Friend 2: "Watch out, he'll kick your ass. Sorry. She'll kick your ass."
It may take you a handful of times of correcting yourself politely with me (or another trans person) but you'll get it, and we do understand that you have been conditioned to see us that way. But that said, real friends, and people who really accept and support us, do take the time to correct themselves and change the way they were conditioned.