How to Respond to A Trans Person Coming Out
No Amount of Woke Entitles You to Dead Name Our Past, Present, or Future: A Dialogue with Chris Damian
[My former high-school student and writer of amazing versatility, Chris Damian, pens a beautiful, vulnerably honest, and eloquent piece on his reaction to my coming out trans, based on a private FB message he sent me almost two years ago. He first asked my permission before writing his recent blog, and this is my response. Thank you, Chris, for attesting to the impact I had and still have on you!]
I am NOT coming down on Chris’ blog piece. I do want you who read his fine work and my scribbling here to not compromise trans acquaintances/ friends/loved ones, pre- or post-transition, regardless of how you knew them or addressed them “back then.”
A Dead-Name/Pronoun At Any Other Time … Is Still Stinky Dead
A trans woman may have used, as I did, a male dead-name/pronoun when you knew me, but I’ve always been female. How you knew me then or know me now does NOT define me. Get our permission first as to the loving way to refer to us, past or present.
If you don’t know our pronouns and we aren’t present to be asked our pronouns, default to “they/them/theirs” until you know better.
Just because YOU are struggling doesn’t entitle you to an explanation — no matter how close you are to us.
As Chris hints, your struggle with another person’s transition is just that — YOUR struggle. Just because YOU are struggling doesn’t entitle you to an explanation—no matter how close you are to us. If we’re close to you, we already know you’re struggling. Why? WE’VE been struggling with our true selves FOR YEARS, IF NOT DECADES.
Not Up for Discussion
You also don’t have the privilege to “think out loud” with trans persons about our personhood, presentation, identity, or anything else you have the luxury of taking for granted for yourself as a private matter. Trans persons are NOT your chance to engage in trans-related philosophical, theological, ethical, or biological conjectures. If we initiate that discussion, go for it.
Similarly, you’re not at liberty to interrogate us about ourselves, trans issues, trans rights, gender-related surgical procedures, or hormones, no matter how woke you think you are. Would you take it in stride if someone queried you on your surgeries or the size/function/disposition of your genitalia or breasts?
Take Us As We Are
WHAT YOU SHOULD DO when you meet a trans person or discover that someone you know or love is trans is to TAKE US AS WE ARE. By coming out as non-binary, genderfluid, gender non-specific, trans man, trans woman, or any other self-identification, we are NOT ASKING YOUR PERMISSION TO BE WHO WE ARE, nor are we asking for your encouragement, support, or comment, however urgently you want to say something. We are PEOPLE. Take us as we are. Like dating or making a new friend, start out with small talk, discover common interests, and see where the night and our lives together go. Because you’re meeting the real us for the first time.
Like dating or making a new friend, start out with small talk, discover common interests, and see where the night and our lives together go. Because you’re meeting the real us for the first time.
Again, Chris, thank YOU for your honesty about your own struggle with my coming out. I hope my words empower you as much as yours empower me.
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