My love/hate relationship with my trans identity

  • People looking back at me as I walk by
  • People smirking and holding back laughter as I walk by
  • People nudging their friends as I walk by
  • Getting my ID checked for several seconds longer than most
  • People checking me out until they find something they don’t like
  • People playing the “what gender is that” game
  • People pointing at me and yells “that’s a man!” when I’m in line at a store
  • Men looking at me angrily and saying “those fucking gays…” to their wives
  • Someone yelling “fucking disgusting” and ranting about how disgraceful I am on the bus
  • People following me down the streets screaming “LADYBOY”
  • Women screaming to the whole train that my friend and I look amazing, making sure everyone knew how we were trans and she was so proud, outing us as trans and making us the uncomfortable center of attention on the train
  • Getting catcalled, then seconds later “god damn, it’s a fucking man”
  • Watching a violent man harass women in a train station, hoping and praying that when he gets to me he won’t be interested
  • Being noticed by a man on the street, prompting him to follow me down the street before yelling “you can’t get away, I’ll fucking kill you!” (I was on my bike, thank god)
  • Getting cornered by a man on the street telling me he’s not afraid to hurt people, he’s the most dangerous man I had ever met, he loves the way I look and never knew he liked dick until a little bit ago, he really wanted more, and not being able to back away. being terrified for my life as he pulls out a knife before his friend calls his name to tell him that they had someone he needed to take care of
  • Get in the habit of using ungendered words/pronouns whenever possible: Quite often language unnecessarily enforces a gender binary and often results in the unintentional (or sometimes deliberate) misgendering of trans people. To get more used to pronouns it’s helpful to get in the habit of thinking with “they/them” pronouns until you ask! The more often you do this the easier and more natural it will be, and the less likely you will risk unintentionally misgendering someone, and getting asked about pronouns always feels good!!
    Avoid: sir/ma’am, gentleman/woman, brother/sister, dude, man, guy
    Instead try: friend, folks, sibling, relative, people
  • Names/Pronouns are retroactive: Always refer to a trans person by their prefered name and pronouns even when referring to them in the past. Trans people’s genders don’t change when they come out. Very frequently trans people have always felt a certain way, or they are fluid and its not actually the act of coming out that has changed their gender. Pronouns should always be respected unless the person in question requests or gives permission otherwise. This is especially important when talking about a friend or family member who has recently come out.
  • Avoid framing gender as a choice: While it’s often a decision or choice for a trans person to come out and publicly express their identity, a trans person’s gender is something beyond their control. Because gender is the result of one’s conditions and experiences, framing it as a choice cheapens the struggle and pain that trans people face every day of their lives. And “transgender” is not something that happens to people, it’s an identity that again, is a result of all the conditions and experiences that make a person who they are.
  • Avoid conflating genitals with gender: Not all women have vaginas, not all men have penises. When you must, try to use phrases like “people with vaginas” or “people with penises”. Also avoid associating feminism with vaginal imagery. Feminism and reproductive justice are very closely linked but they most certainly aren’t identical!!
  • Use phrases that don’t dehumanize trans people: Words like transman or transwoman effectively “third gender” trans people by separating them from men or women. Put a space in between e.g. trans man, trans woman. Avoid derogatory uses of trans terms, like calling someone “transgendered” or slurs. Words like these often cast being trans as a mental illness or some kind of disease and are incorrect and often very hurtful. Trans is not a separate gender.
  • Stop Tokenizing Trans People: Trans people deserve to take pride in being trans, and rightfully so. It’s also important to be an ally and help fight for their rights and raise public consciousness about trans oppression. But trans people also deserve to live normal lives. They deserve to not be reminded every day that they’re trans. They deserve to be treated the same way as everybody else. Tokenizing trans people, or overcompensating is always transparent and can frequently be dehumanizing.

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Mandy Wilkens

Mandy Wilkens

Candidate Member of the Party for Socialism and Liberation (she/her)