I am participating in Trans*forming the Dialogue, Simmons College’s Online MSW Program’s campaign to promote an educational conversation about the transgender community. By participating in this campaign, I will be offering my perspective on what TO ask and what NOT to ask trans*people.
One of the first questions one should ask a transperson is asking what they’d prefer to be called and which pronouns they prefer. This is simply a courtesy but it means a lot to us. It shows that you care about our gender identity and that you respect it. I think if you can remember that, you’ll be okay.
What not to ask us? Well, there’s a lot of of things not to say to us or ask us. Most of what you should avoid asking us is no different than what you would avoid asking anyone else.
Don’t ask us about our anatomy. Don’t ask us about intimate details.
Don’t ask us about our family. I understand you’re curious about what my mom thinks, but this is more than likely a very sensitive and intense topic. I’m happy to get more personal with you once I get to know you, but standing in line at Starbucks is not the place to have this conversation.
And lastly, please never tell a transperson that you never would’ve known they are transgender. In my early days, I thought this was the biggest compliment that I could hear. But over time I realize that “passing” is a myth and just adds to the stereotype that transgirls are here to trick or fool you. We’re not pretending, we’re not dressing up, it’s not a costume. It’s who we are.