If you think only “overly sensitive”, “special snowflake” trans* and queer folks get mad about being misgendered, see how cismen react to you calling them ma’am or ciswomen refer to being called sir.
Caution, tho. Worse things than getting cursed at on Tumblr are likely to happen.
So fellow cis people, the next time that you laugh, stare, point, make inappropriate jokes, sarcastic or abusive comments remember that 238 trans people were murdered this year alone. Also remember the people that have developed agoraphobia, too afraid to come out of their houses lest they be confronted by one of us that refuses to recognise their humanity. Remember people like Lucy Meadows that were driven to suicide because we did not allow her to live the life that she deserved, one free of harassment and doing a job that she enjoyed.
I have been guilty of making stupid jokes in the past when I was too ignorant to understand the full weight behind my words of which I am deeply ashamed. Don’t sit and allow others to abuse trans people either. Challenge them. You don’t have to be personally responsible for anyone’s death, being complicit by remaining silent is bad enough. Be better. Do better. We can’t bring back the trans people that have lost their lives but we can stop the body count increasing."
This goes out to all the cis people who, it’s quite obvious, want to help and befriend trans people, but who keep alienating and angering us instead. I’ve seen the befuddled looks on your faces when this happens, and I thought I’d try to clear a few things up for you. Let’s look at some common scenarios in which well-meaning cis people screw up with the whole pro-trans thing, and look at how some of these could go differently:
Scenario: You see someone whose gender you can’t determine just by looking at them. You want to make sure that you’re respectful of their identity.
Wrong Way to Ask: "Are you a man or a woman?"
Phrasing it this way will put the trans person on the defensive, and make them feel like you’re questioning and possibly even attacking their gender. It can also make them feel highly insecure about their gender presentation.
Right Way to Ask: "What pronouns do you prefer?"
This phrasing makes it clear that you intend to respect the person’s gender identity, regardless of what they look like. It shows an acknowledgment that the onus of respect is on you, and not their presentation or “passability”.
Scenario: You have just made an insensitive joke about trans people in the presence of your trans friend. You didn’t mean to hurt them, and you weren’t even thinking about them when you made the joke, but now the relationship is strained and you want to try to repair it.
Wrong Thing to Say: "Come on; it was just a joke! Lighten up!"
This tells your friend that you don’t take their pain seriously, and that you don’t think they should take it seriously either. It sends a message that trans lives and trans experiences matter less than your feelings of guilt and unease at being called out.
Right Thing to Say: "That was really thoughtless of me. I’ll try not to do it again."
Nine times out of ten, your friend will know you didn’t mean to hurt them. Most people don’t. But they need you to understand that you have hurt them. They need you to know this, not so you can stew in guilt, but so all involved can heal and move on.
Scenario: Your trans friend doesn’t “pass”. You think you can see what they’re doing wrong, and you want to help.
Wrong Thing to Do: List off all the things they’re doing “wrong”, and tell them how to fix them.
Trans people’s self-esteem is rocky enough as it is. By focusing on all the ways in which they look different from cis people, you are not only causing anxiety and dysphoria for the trans person, but also reinforcing the idea that trans people are “lesser” or “fake”. Besides, your friend may not even see “passing” as a desirable goal, in which case you are getting up in their face for no reason at all.
Right Thing to Do: Mind your own damn business.
If your friend wants you to help with their image, they will ask you. Regardless, respect their gender identity unconditionally.
Scenario: You’ve messed up a trans person’s name/pronouns. You didn’t mean to, but you can see the anguish on their face, and you want to make things right.
Wrong Thing to Say: "I’m sorry; it’s just that you’re still [previous name] to me!"
Of all the things you could possibly say to a trans person, this is among the most hurtful. It’s one thing to struggle to accept someone’s identity; it’s quite another to impose the wrong identity on that person in order to excuse your difficulty.
Right Thing to Say: "I’m sorry. I’ll keep trying."
Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone has difficulty adapting to a major change in another person. What’s important is that you try, and that you correct yourself when you mess up. That’s all anyone can reasonably ask; at the same time, it’s the least you can do.
Scenario: You’re framing a health issue in terms of a specific gender (e.g., framing menstruation in terms of women), and a trans person points out that it isn’t necessarily unique to that gender and/or that they’re being left out of the discussion by your framing.
Wrong Response: "Well, BIOLOGICALLY speaking, it really does only affect [gender]."
Framing gender solely in terms of biology is always hurtful to trans people, no matter what the context. It’s even more hurtful when people who are strongly affected by an issue are deliberately erased in discussions of it.
Right Response: "Good point. I’ll try to remember it."
We’re all soaking in narratives that mash all the complexities of gender into two discrete categories, so it’s understandable that you’d initially think in those terms as well. But expanding your mind is never a bad thing, especially when it means including people who need/deserve to be included.
Scenario: You’ve known your trans friend/relative by one gender all your life, and now, all of a sudden, they’re asking you to call them by a different name and pronouns. This comes as a shock, and you feel like you don’t know them anymore; you feel like they’ve died and some new person has taken their place. Yet you want to stay in relationship with them, somehow.
Wrong Thing to Do: Categorically refuse to respect their request, insisting that it’s too difficult and hurtful for you.
Your trans friend/relative has taken a great risk by revealing their identity to you, and they’ve done so because they want and need to stay in relationship with you. For you to refuse to accept them, for you to prioritize your (relatively smaller) pain over theirs, is terribly cruel. Your pain is absolutely valid, but this is not the way to handle it.
Right Thing to Do: Work out your grief issues with a counselor and/or with cis friends, away from your friend/relative.
This may be tough for you to deal with, and you absolutely do need to deal with it. But the person who does exist, the person you’ve loved, will need your continuing love and support — and that person is not responsible for your healing. Do whatever you need to do to get to a place where you can relate to them respectfully and lovingly, and do it without placing additional burdens on them.
In short: respect us; care about us; treat us as equals; be willing to learn; be willing to grow. Once you get the hang of it, it’s really not as hard as it seems.
Got a bunch of new followers, so I figured I’d rebagel one of my most important posts to date.
oh my god this is so amazing.
Casual cissexism says certain transfolk look “good” based on how cisgendered they look. Example: “Wow, she looks really good now.”
i understand that cisgender people often have trouble communicating with trans* individuals. it’s okay that you don’t understand how to go about this, as you’ve grown up in a society which treats you as the default, and trans* individuals as a sort of exotic creature.
the good news is you can overcome this! you can learn to have meaningful relationships with trans* people, and to be an ally or advocate to them if they ask for your help! the bad news is it’s kind of difficult to figure out how to do this because the social norms concerning trans* people are very rigid within our society.
1) don’t ask them about their birth name. especially if you don’t know them. you aren’t going to be calling them by this anyway, so you really don’t need to know, right?
2) don’t treat them like they have a contagious disease. you cannot catch “the trans.” most generally do not bite unless you ask them to. they’re a person just like you, and you don’t want them to avoid shaking your hand for fear of catching “the cis.”
3) genitals are never a good conversation topic. seriously. it’s probably not your business. you wouldn’t go up to someone you thought was cisgender and ask about their trouserbits, don’t do it to someone you think is trans*.
4) don’t ask about surgery or hormones. there used to be stuff here about how they can be hard to obtain, but it wasn’t worded well. some trans* people don’t want them. some trans* people can’t get them. some can/do both or either of those things. it’s still not your business. at all. the state of their body and medical history aren’t your concern.
5) always refer to trans* people by their preferred gender. a trans* woman who has not yet had surgery is already a woman. getting surgery does not magically make her a woman. she already was one, she’s just helping her body match her gender. same with trans* men and nonbinary/agender people. the state of someone’s body doesn’t matter, how they identify does.
6) when in doubt, ask politely. politely is very freakin important there. if you aren’t sure what pronouns someone uses, ask them. if you aren’t sure whether a nickname is okay, ask.
7) if they ask you not to bring something up, don’t bring it up. if someone asks you not to point it out when they’re misgendered, don’t do it. there are certain spaces where they may be safer being misgendered or misnamed. you also should not talk about anything that may remotely qualify as personal to people if your trans* pal has not told you that it’s alright to tell them.
8) if they’re upset about cis people being jerks and say something kinda mean, don’t get mad. it’s not about you. really, i promise. getting bent out of shape over a comment about cis people being giant dicks only proves the trans* person right. you are probably a very supportive friend, and don’t appreciate them making a blanket statement about a group that you belong to, but you need to recognize that a whole lot of cisgender people ARE jerks. a lot of cisgender people are going to be gigantic dicks to your trans* pal and every other trans* person.
9) not all trans* people are the same. we all have different hobbies, interests, opinions, and backgrounds. we’re just as different from one another as cis people are.
10) don’t use slurs. don’t do it. even if your trans* friends say them it is inappropriate for you to do so. slurs include: tr*nny, sh*male, tr*nsvestite (when used in the wrong context), he-she, and sometimes it. your trans* friend may be okay with you using slurs, but i’d advise against doing it altogether, as it is not your business to reclaim these words.
11) don’t out them to people. even if you’re trying to do good and correct people about their pronouns, ask first. they might not want to be outed in certain contexts. i, for example, am alright with my friends outing me when i meet their friends, because i trust their judgment in who they tell and they always do it when i’m there. if i was meeting a complete stranger, i would not want them to out me.
12) if they don’t feel like educating you, don’t push it. your friend may have had a ton of people asking them to explain things that day. when i out myself in classes, i always get a ton of the same questions. it gets really tiring fielding the same questions over and over again. even the most avid educators get tired of answering the same questions again and again.
13) don’t tell them about someone you know who’s trans*. we don’t want to hear about your trans* cousin, or your trans* coworker. plus, when you tell us about them, you usually do it in a very problematic way.
14) under no circumstance should you, a cisgender person, say you understand exactly what a trans* person is going through in their transition because you defy the gender binary in some way. you may be a cis dude who knits, you may be a cis lady who’s a tomboy, but you do not know how it is to be transgender because you aren’t, plain and simple. you can empathize with them based on your experiences of defying the gender binary, but it’s not the same as being transgender.
15) treat them the way you treat your cis friends. this definitely doesn’t mean that you treat them as though they’re cisgender. it means that you respect their privacy, that you stick to their set boundaries, that you don’t make offensive jokes around them unless they said it’s okay, that you don’t assume things about their sexual orientation based on their gender.
i think this is about it, if there’s anything i should add, let me know!
“the problems of being male” post boils down to “not being able to be or do anything that isn’t hyper masculine because you begin to tread into the realms of homosexuality and the feminine and that’s horrible because homosexuality and femininity are horrible”
and yet some people still somehow consider this a wide spread method of oppression against straight cis men
* Asterisk Uses You Should Know *
Sam from It’s Pronounced Metrosexual weighs in on the use of the asterisk in Trans*
Good to know!
- @nataliereed84: Oh, you're cis? Nice to meet you! So, what's your vagina like?
- @nataliereed84: Wow! You look great! I never would have gussed you were cis!
- @Mowgli3: "But how am I supposed to learn what cis bodies are like if I can't ask you everything about yours?"
- @AndyTehNerd: But how can you be sure that's your gender? What if that's just what you were raised to believe?
- @nataliereed84: But are you SURE you want to remain male? How do you know for sure this is right for you?
- @AndersStarmark: Of course I support you. But I just want you tone it down. You're scaring people, and scared people are dangerous.
- @nataliereed84: But "cis" people might regret not transitioning! We need strict criteria for diagnosing cisgenderism to prevent that.
- @AndersStarmark: I don't believe Cises get raped. Who'd fuck one of them?
- @LanaLangton: Yeah you can come clubbing with us but only if you promise to act like a girl.
- @AndersStarmark: This magic ring will keep your gender the way it is.
- @nataliereed84: People with mental health disorders might think they're cis when they're really not. We can't trust their choices.
- @LanaLangton: You must declare your cisism immediately when you meet me or any of my friends else you are deceiving us.
- @nataliereed84: It's not my fault I'm not attracted to cis ppl. I just find your bodies icky. It's just my sexual orientation!
- @nataliereed84: No, but what's your REAL name? You know, the one you actually chose.
- @nataliereed84: Wait, so you think you're a womon-born-womon? Isn't that just equating sex with gender and buying into the patriarchy?
- @LanaLangton: sorry if you find what we say offensive it's just we're not used to actually talking to cis people & its only 'banter'
- @nataliereed84: Look son, I understand you identify as your birth sex, but why can't you just transition to being a butch lesbian?
- @AndersStarmark: No, I'm sorry, you may not use the ungendered restroom. A gendered one? No, never heard of them. Wouldn't work anyway.
- @nataliereed84: Isn't it a bit selfish to go around claiming you're really your birth sex and expect us all to just go along with it?
- @nataliereed84: You may think you're a woman because you're XX, but I think of you as male, and you need to respect my beliefs.
- @nataliereed84: But if we let cis men use the men's room, what's to stop one of them from raping your children!?!?
- @kinetictheorist: I'm glad your granddad died before finding out your cis
- @PeregrineTwist: so you mean your cock is ATTACHED!? How do you sterilise and wash it properly?
- @maeveregan: Oh, your new partner is cis? So do you actually have sex or what?
- @nataliereed84: Son, you say that you're a boy, but I think you're a bit too young to be making that decision.
- @nataliereed84: Honey, I know you think you want to remain male, but are you sure this isn't just a mid-life crisis?
- @AndersStarmark: I'm a psychologist. I can help you cope with your reluctance to transition. Just relax. Let me help.
- @AndersStarmark: You know, for a cis you're pretty attractive. I'd even call you fuckable.
- @MaeveCaitKelly: Wow! You're such a convincing cis person, I just thought you were normal! Well done.
- @sashapixlee: Dude, she looks like she might be cis. Be careful, bro
- @sasugakirin: Just because "grue" is used to hurt you cis people all the time doesn't mean I can't reclaim it.
- @BecciCath: No, Cis Identity Disorder shouldn't be removed from the DSM, I mean, being cis is a lifestyle choice, so u must b mad
- @Dru_Marland: You're cis? -honestly, I'd never have known, you look so good
- @AndersStarmark: If you cis people didn't scare people of we'd have opposite sex marriage a long time ago!
- @Dru_Marland: "Are they real?" (gropes stranger's breasts)
- @AndersStarmark: I think you're taking it a little hard when someone truegenders you. It's just a label, it's nothing serious.
- @LadyJaya: You mean your breasts started growing when you were 12? Can I feel them? They seem so real!
Vocabulary You Should Know (and understand)
Graphic and following text from BASIC RIGHTS OREGON:
You may have heard the word cisgender before, but you may not know what it means. Cisgender is a term used to describe people who, for the most part, identify as the gender they were assigned at birth. For example, if a doctor said “it’s a boy!” when you were born, and you identify as a man, then you could be described as cisgender. In other words, ‘cisgender’ is used to describe people who are not transgender.
So why do we say ‘cisgender’ instead of ‘non-transgender’? Because, referring to cisgender people as ‘non trans’ implies that cisgender people are the default and that being trans is abnormal. Many people have said ‘transgender people’ and ‘normal people’, but when we say ‘cisgender’ and ‘transgender’ neither is implied as more normal than the other.
Using the word ‘cisgender’ is also an educational tool. To simply define people as ‘non-trans’ implies that only transgender people have a gender identity. But that’s not true. Like sexual orientation, race, class, and many other identities, all of us have a gender identity.
Language is important; it defines human relationships. That is why it’s important use language of equality and inclusion.
- Use public restrooms without fear of verbal abuse, physical intimidation, or arrest
- Use public facilities such as gym locker rooms and store changing rooms without stares, fear, or anxiety.
- Strangers don’t assume they can ask you what your genitals look like and how you have sex.
- Your validity as a man/woman/human is not based on how much surgery you’ve had or how well you “pass” as non-transgender.
- You have the ability to walk through the world and generally blend-in, not being constantly stared or gawked at, whispered about, pointed at, or laughed at because of your gender expression.
- You can access gender exclusive spaces such as the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, Greek Life, or Take Back the Night and not be excluded due to your trans status.
- Strangers call you by the name you provide, and don’t ask what your “real name” [birth name] is and then assume that they have a right to call you by that name.
- You can reasonably assume that your ability to acquire a job, rent an apartment, or secure a loan will not be denied on the basis of your gender identity/expression.
- You have the ability to flirt, engage in courtship, or form a relationship and not fear that your biological status may be cause for rejection or attack, nor will it cause your partner to question their sexual orientation.
- If you end up in the emergency room, you do not have to worry that your gender will keep you from receiving appropriate treatment, or that all of your medical issues will be seen as a result of your gender.
- Your identity is not considered a mental pathology (“gender identity disorder” in the DSM IV) by the psychological and medical establishments.
- You have the ability to not worry about being placed in a sex-segregated detention center, holding facility, jail or prison that is incongruent with your identity.
- You have the ability to not be profiled on the street as a sex worker because of your gender expression.
- You are not required to undergo an extensive psychological evaluation in order to receive basic medical care.
- You do not have to defend you right to be a part of “Queer,” and gays and lesbians will not try to exclude you from “their” equal rights movement because of your gender identity (or any equality movement, including feminist rights).
- If you are murdered (or have any crime committed against you), your gender expression will not be used as a justification for your murder (“gay panic”) nor as a reason to coddle the perpetrators.
- You can easily find role models and mentors to emulate who share your identity.
- Hollywood accurately depicts people of your gender in films and television, and does not solely make your identity the focus of a dramatic storyline, or the punchline for a joke.
- Be able to assume that everyone you encounter will understand your identity, and not think you’re confused, misled, or hell-bound when you reveal it to them.
- Being able to purchase clothes that match your gender identity without being refused service/mocked by staff or questioned on your genitals.
- Being able to purchase shoes that fit your gender expression without having to order them in special sizes or asking someone to custom-make them.
- No stranger checking your identification or drivers license will ever insult or glare at you because your name or sex does not match the sex they believed you to be based on your gender expression.
- You can reasonably assume that you will not be denied services at a hospital, bank, or other institution because the staff does not believe the gender marker on your ID card to match your gender identity.
- Having your gender as an option on a form.
- Being able to tick a box on a form without someone disagreeing, and telling you not to lie. Yes, this happens.
- Not fearing interactions with police officers due to your gender identity.
- Being able to go to places with friends on a whim knowing there will be bathrooms there you can use.
- You don’t have to convince your parents of your true gender and/or have to earn your parents’ and siblings’ love and respect all over again.
- You don’t have to remind your extended family over and over to use proper gender pronouns (e.g., after transitioning).
- You don’t have to deal with old photographs that did not reflect who you truly are.
- Knowing that if you’re dating someone they aren’t just looking to satisfy a curiosity or kink pertaining to your gender identity (e.g., the “novelty” of having sex with a trans- person).
- Being able to pretend that anatomy and gender are irrevocably entwined when having the “boy parts and girl parts” talk with children, instead of explaining the actual complexity of the issue.
If you are using a gendered restroom, and there is someone in there that you think looks they belong in the other gendered restroom, but they are just peeing/washing their hands/fixing their makeup in the mirror/etc and not harassing you, please DO NOT:
- call the police
- ask or tell them that they’re in the wrong bathroom
- yell at them
- beat them up
- threaten to hurt them in any way
- whisper about them to your cis friends while they are still in the room
- otherwise act hostile, threatening, or violent
This has been a public service announcement.
If a cis person mispronouns me and tries to explain why it’s not their fault, I want to cry, and then I laugh in their face. As gently as I can, I tell them it is their fault and that it is not okay. I am upset with them, and I have the right to be. I am sometimes triggered by these encounters because of how unapologetically cissexist they are.
If a cis person mispronouns me, apologizes, knows it’s a big deal, and owns the fact that they fucked up and have cissexism to work through, I smile. I tell them that yeah, it’s a big deal, but it is not the end of the world, and we can still be friends. I mean it. I am rarely triggered by these encounters."