There are a bunch of presumptuous questions that transgender people get asked all the time by folks with no business asking about our personal lives. Many of them are based on acceptance of the compulsory gender binary and the belief that the gender we were assigned at birth is our “real” gender. Asking such questions without permission packs the dehumanizing and othering assumption that transgender folk have a responsibility to educate cisgender folk. Being in the position to be educated about someone else’s identity is a form of privilege, as those with the most power are not asked to explain their life experience since it has been posited as the norm.
Getting asked inappropriate questions framed in a way that completely erases one’s identity over and over again can get incredibly exhausting and frustrating. That’s why I absolutely love the below video, “2 Hot Transsexuals Finally Give Some Answers!” Charles and Red respond to a number of these questions in a hilarious way that reveals the problematic assumptions that go into asking them in the first place. My personal favorite answers are to the question “Are you a man or a woman?” but it’s all fantastic.
This isn’t meant to imply that cis folks shouldn’t try to learn more about trans issues, but there’s a difference between learning about a group’s experience and concerns and asking about an individual’s personal life. There are limits to what’s appropriate – being trans doesn’t mean we don’t have boundaries.There’s a better way to go about educating yourself without making members of the community you’re trying to understand feel like crap in the process.
“Who’s your pronoun!”
h/t to love-and-organizing at Amplify.