Let’s get one thing clear
When someone you know tells you something big, like say, “I’m trans,” these are some appropriate responses:
“Wow, congrats on figuring yourself out!”
“Should I start using new pronouns?”
“Wow, um, it’ll take me a bit to process this, but I’ll try.”
“Cool! I’ve never known a trans person before and I have loads of questions. Let me know if they’re getting too personal, okay? I know this is probably the single most intense conversation you’ve ever had. including that time you were threatened by a vagrant wielding a Bible and a pacemaker scar in the trash room of your building, so I don’t want to make this even scarier for you.”
“You know, I/someone I know is getting rid of some old clothes and cheap jewelry. I can let them know you’re interested and see if they’ll let you pick through them first.”
Depending on your relationship to that person, this might also be an appropriate response:
“Sick! Sick and ungodly! You’ll burn for not fulfilling your righteous godly destiny you abomination unto the Lord!”
Provided you’re someone whose connection to the person talking to you is mostly self-contained (unlike, say, family), this can be an appropriate response because it lets them know you’re an unenlightened, trans-antagonistic piece of shit and they will lose nothing of value by cutting all ties with you.
The following are not appropriate responses.
“But are you going…all the way?”
“I always got such a [assigned gender]ine vibe from you. You never [six or seven things they imagine trans people do before they figure out they’re trans or begin disclosing their transness] while I was looking. Are you sure?”
“You haven’t convinced me. I think someone is putting you up to this.”
“It’s identity suicide.”
“I’m worried about you because [lists all of the horrible things that happen when people transition, such as violence, social ostracism, discrimination, and changes in relationships, and everything else that the person talking to you is 1000% guaranteed to have already considered and already started worrying or panicking about LONG before this conversation began.]”
“You should talk to X and X+1. They dressed as their ‘opposite’ genders that one time so they totally get it.”
“I think what you have is a fetish that is getting out of hand.”
“I feel cheated and slighted that you didn’t tell me by some other means of communication instead of the one you prefer.”
“I feel cheated and slighted that you had all this going on in your life and didn’t confide in me more/earlier.”
“Do you have a problem with your genitals?”
Some of these are far more intrusive and personal than anyone other than one’s intimate partner(s) has a right to ask.
Most of them boneheadedly presume that people bring this kind of news to their friends on a lark without having pondered and fought and argued with themselves about it for ages first and thus that “certainty” and “convincing” are words that should be within 10,000 miles of this conversation.
Most of them presume that all trans people know the instant they are born that their gender doesn’t match what everyone else seems to think it is and anyone who didn’t spend their entire youth rebelling against the idea that their assigned gender is correct can’t be trans and should be doubted if they claim they are, an idea that is, quite simply, one billion percent false.
Several of them wrongly and insultingly imagine kinship between wearing costumes or seeking sexual satisfaction and recognizing one’s gender identity, an error that has been used to erase and harm trans people (particularly women) for decades and which continues to mar media that claims to represent trans people.
And the ones I find most offensive are the ones that act like someone telling them this aching, tense, scary, emotional tidbit is about them, about how they would have liked to hear about it, about what they think about the news, about what learning about this here now and this way means about their relationship to the speaker, about all of the terrors they are now experiencing with regards to the speaker, about how the speaker being trans is just such a massive imposition on them and could they just not?
Every one of these seeds a doubt in the speaker’s mind. They don’t have the blunt grace of an outright religious-bigoted shouting fit that tells the speaker immediately that you are a disgrace who should not be polluting their vicinity with your presence. No, these come with concern and curiosity and a soupy, curdled, very intentional sense that every single fucked-up idea and crossed boundary is because they care. Every single jab at the sorest spot in the speaker’s mind, the most sensitive and terrified and anxious and worried and just scared the fuck to death little fontanelle in a psyche that is telling you that they FINALLY have an answer for questions you didn’t even know they were asking and explanations for ills you didn’t know they had and are about rebuilding and reshaping and relearning so, so much about themselves and about to become part of a category where the #1 cause of death is “murdered by trans-antagonistic fuckweasels”— it’s because they care.
They care, so the speaker can’t even tell if they’ll eventually turn out to be bigoted shits after all.
They care, so the speaker is supposed to forgive every boundary they cross with a flippant smile.
They care, so instead of leaving the speaker knowing that they have one more valued place to get the support they so desperately require in a world that hates damn near everything they are, they subject them to highly intrusive interrogation, tell them that the single biggest insight they’ve ever had about themselves is wrong because they don’t get it, tell them they’re hurt they didn’t volunteer for being treated this way sooner and in person, and oh by the way we love you so much.
I do not have to accept love that does not accept me. And I am not going to.
Reblogged this on Secular Shethinkers and commented:
Things to *not* say to a newly out trans woman.
It’s an honor 😀
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for posting! I really appreciated the insights given here!
Perhaps your friends were in shock and didn’t know how to process the information you have given them. It’s all about how you present the material and how much you have revealed. You don’t have to give a reason to “them,” even if “they” ask. You can be very general so boundaries are not crossed. And what you saw was a lot of raw emotions and friends who have problems filtering themselves and understanding a new facet of your life. If they’ve always known you for one way and all of a sudden you tell them it’s another, it’s a shot of cold water….to some. Not all. Remember…everyone reacts differently to news. In an ideal world, we all want to be accepted as who we truly are and people to blindly say YES. On behalf of your friends, I am sorry you didn’t get the reaction you wanted.
I, for one, have my own emotions to sort out….and I will be out of the picture until things are stabilized. I hope you are able to forgive their trespasses as they will forgive yours. This life is about LOVE…sometimes LOVE is hard to find…when we so desperately need it.
It’s cute how you think even one word of that is something that wouldn’t have occurred to literally anyone going through what this post describes, such that you pointing it out here is utterly without value and contributes exactly nothing to this comment thread, other than annoyance. What you’re doing right now is called “splaining,” and there is no room for it here. As the blog title notes, Alex and Ania are the only people who get to splain ’round these parts.
Also, you should know better than to bring Christian-tinged tripe about “forgiving trespasses” and “God bless” to a blog with this many items under its “atheism” keyword. I MIGHT accept that graciously from someone who otherwise offered something valuable. I see no reason to accept it from you.
If the next thing you want to say is complaining about how you’re being dealt with harshly for being worse than useless, save it. Apologize for wasting my time explaining my own experiences to me, or shove off.