Here’s a question and answer style article to respond to questions still being asked by our allies. I gave excepted the introductory paragraphs from this piece by Wiley Reading writing for Everyday Feminism. Continue reading the questions and answers by following the link at the bottom of this post…
With the popularity of Orange Is the New Black and Caitlyn Jenner’s highly visible coming out process, the feminist Internet-o-sphere is full to the brim these days with 101 articles explaining trans people to non-trans people.
They all address the same concepts – what’s in our pants (and why it’s rude to ask about that), sexuality versus gender identity, “trapped in the wrong body” narratives, and terminology semantics. And all of that is great!
The more information swirling around out there, the better, and there are millions of people who need articles like these.
What I don’t see, however, is the next step: a way to bridge the gap between well-meaning people who cheer for Laverne Cox and know not to ask about “the surgery,” but who want to more deeply understand what the life of a trans person is like – in short, to better understand our journeys.
I have many friends and family members who jump at the chance to ask me more complicated questions than “what pronouns do you use” because the information available to them only covers a small portion of trans lives and experience, and they are thirsty to know more.
This is an immensely complicated topic – marginalized people should never bear the burden of educating their oppressors.
But in order for a more free and positive information exchange, I believe that those of us who are comfortable “opening up the floor” to questions from cis people should do so, and further the trickle of information between the trans and cis communities.
Because I know that I enjoy a relatively privileged position as a trans person and within the trans community – masculine, white, living in a queer- and trans-friendly city, I consider it an honor to open myself up to questions so that my less privileged trans siblings can benefit from the acceptance that (hopefully) follows knowledge.
I can make assumptions about what cis people don’t know based on the ignorant comments I get from the least informed among us, but that involves overlooking the fact that understanding of trans issues is incomplete even among people who already know the basics.
I’m an openly trans writer on the internet; most people who know me understand that they shouldn’t demand that trans people describe their genitals. But gender identity is a complex and rich topic – much too varied and broad to be reduced to a simple story of pronouns and genitals and legal discrimination.
So I asked the cis people in my life, “What do you still want to know? What do you want to learn more about? What have you had explained to you, but still can’t wrap your mind around?”
It has always been my belief that understanding is the first step on the road to changing minds and hearts. Anyone who’s ever tried to change someone’s mind, though, knows that the work doesn’t stop with one conversation. It takes engaging over and over again to help some people understand.
So here’s some next-level information, to keep the conversation going, but before I dive in, the most important thing to remember when learning about trans bodies is to seek out a diversity of perspectives.
My feelings are entirely my own although – and this is important – what I feel and think about my trans identity will have much in common with what other trans people think and feel. That is why we are often spoken of as a community. There are commonalities among our experiences.
However, like snowflakes (and non-trans people), we are each different. Learn from me, but learn from as many other people as you can, too.
Continue reading the questions and answers here at Everyday Feminism:
If you would like to ask your own questions of me, an agender/genderqueer non-binary gender identified person please leave a comment with a question below.