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I'd Like to Learn More About Trans- Identities


purpleninja

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I've been trying to educate myself about trans- identities for a while now, but in light of the tragedy of Leelah Alcorn's unfortunate suicide, I'm taking a few more steps to actively learn more about this.

I am asexual and homoromantic, so I'm not completely ignorant on the topic, but as my own "adventures" have come with people just not knowing what to say, (esp. about the asexuality), I'd like to know how to speak so as to not offend anyone or come off as a complete jackass.

I grew up in one of those conservative, cis, Catholic family, so for most of my life I didn't understand trans-anything in the slightest. I've taught myself a good bit, and I'm totally down with using the correct pronouns, but the little stuff still gets me.

For example, if I meet someone and I'm not quite sure if they're cisgender or not or what they're identifying as, do I ask? That sounds like it would be one slap-in-the-face type of question, so I never have. If someone says they "identify as male" or "identify as female," does that mean that they are transgender? As a cis person, I've never had to say that I "identify" as something; I'm a girl.

As I feel like I'm rambling, I'm going to put this quite simply: if there's any trans- people or just very knowledgeable people on this topic, what would you want me to know about the trans- spectrum? I don't want to be ignorant on it; I want to understand everything. I am completely accepting of all of it, so that's not the issue. I'd like to learn some more etiquette.

What should I NEVER ask/say to a trans- person, for example? (if anything)

Gosh, I hope some of y'all are getting what I'm trying to say here. I just want to learn more about it. Any replies are welcome!

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For example, if I meet someone and I'm not quite sure if they're cisgender or not or what they're identifying as, do I ask?

It's okay to ask what someone's preferred pronouns are but I would suggest not outright asking "Are you trans?" Saying "I identify as fe/male" doesn't necessarily mean someone is trans, it might just be them clarifying in a situation where that might be necessary.

What should I NEVER ask/say to a trans- person, for example? (if anything)

Don't ask about what surgeries or hormone treatments they have had/are planning to have unless the person tells you they're open to that discussion. So many people ask "Do you have a penis!?" or other ignorant things and that's definitely something to avoid.

Probably don't ask somebody's birthname unless they volunteer that they're okay with questions like that. This probably depends on how close you are to them but it's something you shouldn't ask somebody you've just met, definitely.

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I can't give my opinion on anything because I myself was assigned female at birth and identify as female, but I just wanted to say I think it's awesome that you're making such an effort to better understand transidentities! I'm in the same boat that I want to respect everyone, but also don't know what KIND of questions would be okay in order to be sure I'm gendering someone correctly and just making sure there's no miscommunication. It's an awesome topic to bring up :yes:

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Heya! I know a lot about gender and gender-related issues. Ask me things! Now I can't say I'm the highest authority, but I do know a whole heck of a lot. Feel free to PM me all the questions you have, I promise to be reallllllly patient. ^w ^ I know it's hard to learn about subjects when you're not sure what you can ask or who you can ask it to.

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I can't give my opinion on anything because I myself was assigned female at birth and identify as female, but I just wanted to say I think it's awesome that you're making such an effort to better understand transidentities! I'm in the same boat that I want to respect everyone, but also don't know what KIND of questions would be okay in order to be sure I'm gendering someone correctly and just making sure there's no miscommunication. It's an awesome topic to bring up

I pretty much just wanted to say ditto. :) Not to sound like an old woman here, but oh my goodness, you really impress me, Koda. So thoughtful and mature. Good for you. :heart:

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Huh, well, I'm assigned female and I identify as androgynous/bigender/queer. I guess if someone wanted to know more about gender identities and they asked me, I would first try to explain the concept of the gender binary, which is pretty much just the social construct that says, "There's males, females, and nothing else." Of course, this isn't true anymore, and people who don't identify as male or female fall outside the binary and are called non-binary or non-binary conforming. There's a multitude of identities that differ from just trans, so some people might get offended if you refer to it as the "trans-spectrum" because they feel as if their identities are being ignored or looked over. Maybe use the term "gender spectrum" or "non-binary spectrum".

Asking people if they're trans can be difficult, since you don't want to seem rude or offensive (although I don't quite see how this could offend someone, but that's just me). Perhaps you will have to outright ask that, but open the question slowly and politely. "There's a question I want to ask you, but it may have a personal answer. I'm not asking this to be rude or offensive, I'm just confused and I'd like to clarify this. You don't have to answer this if it makes you uncomfortable, but I was just wondering..." If they don't answer, don't push the matter.

Things you should never say to trans people? "Well, what's going on in your pants?" Nope. That's something you shouldn't ask anyone, trans or not.

"Well, are you a boy or a girl?" While a technically not-rude question, that's the wrong way to phrase it. Instead, ask what pronouns they prefer. This can also save you from an awkward moment if you're with a non-conforming person who isn't boy or girl.

And never, EVER, out a trans person. This means you should never inform another person that Person A is transgender because Person A may not want Person B to know that they're trans.

Same rules apply to non-binary people, not just trans. Non-binary can be a bit more confusing and would have more terms, etiquette, and do's-and-don'ts involved, so I can answer those questions if you have any :) I'm certainly not the highest authority when it comes to this stuff, but I hope this helped.

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A lot of this really depends on the individual, even in terms of the meaning of various words. For instance, I would generally consider non-binary to be a part of the trans-spectrum, but as ICan'tThinkOfAnything demonstrates, not everyone does. And that's totally fine, I completely respect anyone's decision to view themself or not view themself as being part of a given category, it does make things complicated to explain definitively though. The problem is that the trans/non-binary community(s) is still very new and in the process of evolving and defining itself and it's terms, and different people have different thoughts on what transgender means. For me, it's anyone who isn't cis, anyone whose gender transgresses that which they were assigned at birth. So for me the term includes everything from gender-queer/neutral, to binary transsexuals.

There's also a lot of cross-over and very few distinct categories. For example, technically I'm a transsexual because I was born female, but have undergone physically transition and by appearances live as male, but my actual internal sense of gender is Agender/gender-neutral/neutrois (so many words :lol: ) So I fall into multiple categories, some of which, some people might even consider mutually exclusive.

Basically it's really F-ing complicated and there's no simple, straight-forward way to explain it :lol:

As for your specific questions, again it really depends on the individual, but:

if I meet someone and I'm not quite sure if they're cisgender or not or what they're identifying as, do I ask?

The least intrusive thing to do is to simply avoid gendering them at all, use they're name rather than any pronouns. In most cases though, if you're polite, I think you're unlikely to offend a trans/NB person. I would say that it's generally better to phrase the question as something along the lines of "What pronouns do you prefer?" than "Are you trans?" as it places them less in the awkward position of feeling like they need to out themself and/or explain their gender.

What should I NEVER ask/say to a trans- person, for example?

Again, this varies a lot from person to person as different people are comfortable with different levels of personal detail, but as others have mentioned, it's almost always unacceptable to ask someone about their genitals. Which you'd think would go without saying, but sadly, it doesn't.

Questions about physical transition like hormones and surgeries should always be prefaced by asking if the person is comfortable talking about those things and are better avoided altogether with people you've only recently met.

As previously mentioned, most trans people prefer not to be asked what their birth name was, and definitely NEVER refer to their birth name as their "real" name. They're real name is the name they use and introduced themself as. It is however a good idea to ask if it's alright to refer to them by the name they've given you to other people, because you definitely don't want to out them and they may not yet be at the point of using the same name with everyone. They might be introducing themself to new people as one name while still using a different name with some older acquaintances that they haven't come out to yet.

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Thank you guys SO MUCH for replying!!! Seeing as I'm asexual and homoromantic myself, a lot of this for me was more on a "what questions do I always HATE answering?" type of thing. On some levels it's easy to identify with the basic do's and dont's, but, for example, the thing about making sure to ask what name they want you to use when referring to them with someone else is a good one; I don't think I would've thought of that at first.

Again, thank you guys so much! It's really nice to have a place where I can ask questions like this and get straight-up answers. I'm not trans, and don't really have anything non-conforming on the gender side of things, so I really don't know what it's like to live in today's world being a trans/NB person. However, despite my "catholic" upbringing, this all makes absolute perfect sense, and the fact that it doesn't to some people is rather annoying. Anyway, what I'm trying to say is this: a lot of offensive things people have said to me regarding my asexuality have come solely from ignorance, whether intentional or not. I've never met anyone (in person) who is trans, save for maybe one of my friends who goes to a different school now and appears? to be a boy? It was really her that got me buckling down and doing my homework on this in the attempt to save someone the frustration of dealing with pure ignorance on a topic. If nothing else, I don't want to be ignorant on the gender spectrum topic.

Thank you so much for your replies and I may be taking y'all up on the pm's! I don't want to say that I find the trans- live "interesting," as y'all are obviously much more than an "interesting" lab specimen; I simply would like more insight/understanding in the struggles that come along with fluctuations along the gender spectrum and things of the like. Again, as just being asexual has come with a plethora of new obstacles, I would imagine the gender spectrum and Thomas who fluctuate on it face certain struggles, too, that the "averags" person has to face. Can any of you recommend some good blogs written by trans/NB people? In serious about this; I want to learn more about the world around me and the people that inhabit it.

Thank you!!!

-Koda :)

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I may be taking y'all up on the pm's!

I don't think I said in my previous post, but you're welcome to PM as well. My expertise is primarily on the transmasculine spectrum, and obviously I can only speak for myself, but feel free to ask anything you feel like, including stuff about physical transition. I'm not always great about timely responses, but I'll do my best :lol:

Also:

I don't want to say that I find the trans- live "interesting," as y'all are obviously much more than an "interesting" lab specimen; I simply would like more insight/understanding in the struggles that come along with fluctuations along the gender spectrum and things of the like.

*reaches through the internet and hugs you to death* :lol: You have no idea how amazing and wonderful it is to hear someone say that. Trust me, that alone makes you miles ahead of most people in dealing with trans/NB people.

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I was assigned as female at birth but identify as genderfluid. I so don't pretend to have all the answers but I can tell you what I feel in my heart. I'm genderfluid. That means, to me, that I have male and female characteristics. Some days, I can dress up in more feminine clothing and wear makeup and be perfectly fine. Other days, I wear my binder and boxers and my men's cologne and don't want anyone to acknowledge my chest or anything. I always tell people that although I am not transgender, I do live under the same umbrella as transgender men and women. People always ask me the same question, "what are my pronouns?" Which is a great question. I generally like to go with a gender neutral "they" but it doesn't offend me when someone calls me "ma'am" or "sir". In fact, I love those moments at work when someone corrects their "ma'am" with a "sir". Because that's when I feel like they might not totally understand who I am exactly but they get the sense that I'm not their typical insert chosen gender here. It's great that you're wanting to learn more about the different gender identities as people and not just as an experiment. I wish there were more people like you. :)

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