Transgender Awareness Week Come and Gone

By on December 2, 2013

Trans Awareness Week was November 10-16, and the 20th, we celebrated Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day dedicated ever year to honor those in the trans community who have lost their lives in order to be who they are and pave the way for future community members. So, I used my Facebook to post some “tips” for my friends and family in how to respect trans issues.

Here are the tips and insight that I hope educate and enlighten.

Tip #1: USE CORRECT PRONOUNS. If I’m a transguy, which I am, I answer to male pronouns. Transwomen use female pronouns.

Some people who choose to have surgeries or start hormones may still prefer to use their biological pronouns or may prefer gender natural pronouns, like “they” or “ze.” There is such a wide variety of pronouns that the only way to be 100% sure is to ask. It may be uncomfortable to ask, which I understand. It’s not every day that people ask other people what their preferred pronouns are, but there are polite ways to do so and it’s over quickly.  It doesn’t have to be an elaborate or methodically planned out question; it’s as simple as asking “what pronouns do you use?” Asking about pronouns will prevent any misuse in the future as long as you respect the pronouns they have clearly stated as their preference.

If you are friends with someone and they are misgendered in front of you, don’t assume that it’s your job to correct them. Talk to your friends about it. I prefer not to correct people because I’m a little socially awkward and don’t want to have to explain myself ten million times a day. However, my friends and girlfriend have asked me if I want them to correct people. And I’ve told them to because that’s what I prefer.

Everyone is different, so not everyone may feel comfortable having someone else speak on their behalf.

Tip #2: Don’t ask about our genitals.

Questions that fall under this include questions about surgeries, such as “how big do you want your penis to be?”

The first issue with this is that being male does not equate to having a penis. In the same regards, being female doesn’t equate to having a vagina. Gender is located within the brain, so to reduce it to a physical component cheapens its value.

Second, it’s wrong to assume that all FTMs (female-to-males) desire to have bottom surgery. Not all FTMs start on hormones, have top surgery, or have bottom surgery. The same goes for MTFs (male-to-females). Some MTFs get their Adam’s Apples shaved down and their jaws thinned and some don’t. Just like cisgendered (someone whose biological gender and gender identity match up) people, trans people come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and parts, so it’s wrong to assume that one person wants the same surgeries as another.

Another questions that falls under this category is a little more subtle. “Which bathroom do you use?” is asked a lot and it implies that using the bathroom is based on what parts someone is made of.

This is a relatively awkward question to be asked. Personally, I’ll walk around a building two  times just to find a restroom that isn’t populated. It’s oddly intimidating to walk into the restroom of what society deems “the opposite sex.” I’m always paranoid that a professor or an old high school classmate will be in the restroom when I go in or leave. It’s not paranoia from the fear of being beaten up, it’s the fear of having to explain myself and someone not understanding. People ultimately will use the restroom of the gender they identify; however, there is never an acceptable situation to ask someone what restroom they use. It’s a private issue that isn’t anyone’s business.

Tip #3: Understand that gender identity is a privilege, and we have to jump through a lot of hoops to achieve ours.

In order for me to get my testosterone injections, I had to start seeing a therapist in order to get a letter of sound mind to take to a doctor. When I found a doctor in town, he wouldn’t give me testosterone since I’m not 21 and I haven’t has a hysterectomy (yes, some doctors have very specific, strict guidelines before giving hormone prescriptions). Some doctors also require for patients to stop drinking, stop smoking, and/or lose weight. So, I had to go to a doctor in Atlanta in order to get my prescription. It was a world of difference. He came in the room, asked me about my experiences, talked about the changes that would happen, took blood, and gave me a shot before leaving his office in less than forty-five minutes.

That forty-five minute doctor visit took me more than three months to schedule, wait, and go.

So, this process is something that cisgendered people will never experience. If they see a therapist or counselor for any reason, I doubt that gender identity would really come up at all.

Tip #4: Don’t tell us how to be a man or how to be a woman. Not all men carry pocket knives, not all women wear makeup. Everyone has a different personal idea of masculinity and femininity, so don’t try to push your ideas on other people to “help them.”

Like I stated earlier, people come in a variety of shapes, sizes, styles, etc. I’ve met transmen that don’t want to start testosterone, or who don’t want any surgeries. That doesn’t mean that they are less male than any other male identifying person. Some transwomen may never start hormones, either. If you know multiple trans people, you cannot assume they want the same things. Pushing ideas of gender isn’t “helping” trans people, either. There is nothing in this world that is all male or all female. If you find yourself trying to push gender on toys, colors, phones, pens, toys, drinks, (anything), step back and ask yourself why, because chances are, there isn’t a real reason.

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