Maybe I’m a Bad Influence

I tend to be pretty casual about my gender status with those closest to me. I am open to any questions they may have, though I always make it clear, before they ever ask, that some of what I may be comfortable answering is rude for everyone else. I do not like being misgendered, but I also understand that when I am wearing day’s growth of beard that people will slip (and am unbelievably grateful for those friends and family that never do.) I do not mind being outed, though again, I let everyone know that it is wrong to even ask, in private, someone’s gender status.

That is why I sometimes wonder if maybe my blase attitude about discussing my trans* status encourages bad habits. I wonder if trans* folk like me are partly to blame for people like Katie Couric, someone who clearly has no problem coming out and asking a trans* woman about her genitals, even though she probably would  never ask that question of a cis woman. Maybe those of us that are more open, for whatever reason that may be, give people the wrong idea. The fact that I am willing to answer those questions may set a bad precedent.

Then I realize that no, it is not me. I may be willing to answer those questions, but why are so many people willing to ask them when they would not ask anyone else about it? Yeah, I like wearing women’s underwear because it helps me feel more womanly, and some trans woman do not. Some do not care, but would you ask your cis sisters what kind of underwear they wear? Somehow I doubt it.

Do you ask your mother what treatments she is on, if any, for menopause? Do you ask your father what he takes for his prostate? Your brother what he takes for his depression? Do you ask you sister how her last trip to her gynecologist went? Do not bother answering, by and large I know the answer is no. Why then, do you think it is OK to ask a trans woman who has not invited those questions whether she has started HRT? Why do you ask when she is going to have her surgery (assuming she even plans on it?)

One of the curious side effects of privilege is a propensity to treat oppressed groups like a curiosity. You wonder about MoC’s endowments. You want to touch a black person’s hair. Men treat cycles like some awe-inspiring and frightening mystery, and of course different cultures are funny and fun. This is no different for my trans* sisters and brothers. The details of our lives titillate cis folk, and some of you just cannot help yourselves.

If you are just curious, might I suggest doing some research. Libraries are a magical place. My body is my business, however, and I am only obliged to share what I want to share about it. I am not your side-show to be gawked at, nor are my fellow trans* folk. Keep asking what you want about me, I am an open book, but keep in mind if I think you are doing it to get your ya-yas, I will mock you for it, and that what is true for me is not necessarily true for others. I’ll be what help I can, but don’t use me, or others like me, as your excuse to be rude to others.

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