So, by now, we all know that I am Queer and, by now, so do all of my close friends and family. I only recently came out and since I’ve come out, I have been as open as I can be to basically anybody who will listen. This is because my identity is important to me and awareness of Queer issues and the general existence and welfare of trans* people is important to me. This is also because I have known of too many people who have identified as Queer in some form or another who have felt isolated, frightened and confused and who have not had access to the same kinds of resources and information I have or who didn’t know anybody who could help to point them in the right direction. When I came out first to my family and close friends as genderqueer, I got a lot of responses that, quite frankly, upset me in no particular order.
- “Why would you go on male hormones, you’re so pretty” – This is not comforting or supportive. I’m glad you think I’m pretty and thanks but no thanks. That is not the response I needed or asked for. Don’t tell me what you think is acceptable to do based upon your standards of beauty as if your opinion would somehow differ if I were not considered attractive.
- “Do you want a beard and body hair?” – I’ve been asked this a number of times and I still don’t have an answer. I already have body hair; it comes from not shaving. But seriously, I don’t know if I want facial hair because, frankly, I don’t know how I would look with it (I’m blonde and I think blonde facial hair usually looks a little funky). Anyway, my hair is so fine and light-colored, I don’t know if I could really achieve an effective beard if I did want one. But as it is, this question only serves to put me on the spot and I really can’t formulate a solid answer to it.
- “You’re not getting surgery, are you?” – Fuck off, it’s none of your business. This is private information and it requires a lot of thinking-through. Beyond that, SRS is wicked expensive and requires a whole shitload of hoop-jumping; it is more complicated than a simple “yes” or “no” and, once again, it’s nobody’s business.
- *upon being told that I’m taking testosterone* “…you’re beautiful” – …thanks? This is just something I don’t know how to respond to, just like the first comment. It’s like a poorly concealed attempt to say “oh, don’t do that, you’ll ruin your pretty little face.” And, for that, you can fuck off.
- “You seem pretty feminine to me”/”You’re not really that masculine” – What does that have to do with it? You don’t have to be masculine to be a man, nor do you have to be feminine to be a woman and since I don’t identify as either, why should I have to be more like one than the other in order to express my identity?
- “So, you want to be a man?” – No, goddammit. No, I don’t want to be a man. I just also don’t want to be a woman. Gender is a spectrum, not a binary.
- “Why can’t you just pick between man and woman?”/”why do you have to make it so complicated?” – Again, fuck off. I’m not making it complicated, it just already is and it wouldn’t be if there weren’t patriarchal gender roles dictating a strict binary that many people, myself included, can’t navigate.
In short, when a trans* person comes out to you, don’t barrage them with stupid questions or ignorant assumptions. If you don’t know much about it, there are more respectful ways to ask about what you want to know, or better yet, go on the internet and look it up! There is so much information on Queer identities of all kinds and a huge online community dedicated to raising awareness on all fronts. Not to say that I won’t answer any respectful questions, but, quite honestly, educating people about Queer issues is not my responsibility as a Queer person – I am not here to speak for the entire community and, beyond that, I don’t like wasting time trying to explain my identity to people whose interest is probably fleeting at best. Anybody who is genuinely interested in learning about Queer issues should prove their interest by doing their own research and learning what is and is not appropriate to say/do/ask around Queer friends and family.
There are a bunch of other responses I’ve heard, but I can’t think of them off the top of my head so I’ll probably being going back to edit this post and add more. Feel free to contribute your own inappropriate responses.