Things You Probably Shouldn’t Say to a Trans Guy When He’s #Passing

Greetings fair Readers! A friend of mine sent me a Buzzfeed article written by a transgender guy about things people say to him that he takes issue with.  I read it and laughed, but had a different take some of the comments than he did.  So I thought I would write my own version of this list, and invite you Readers to comment.

But first, a story: I was at the tattoo shop the other day getting a “XX” on my lower left hip.  The shop I went to is a great place in East Hollywood where I got my barbell tattoo done.

The XX has several meanings– (1) my chromosomes are xx, I’m a xx boy, (2) XX is a target for my weekly injections (xx marks the spot!), (3) XX is the rune symbol “inguz,” which symbolizes male sexuality and creation.

So I am getting my XX tattoo and the artist never asks why or what it means.  He’s a nice guy, softspoken, calls me “bro.”  Somehow, during conversation, the subject of Catilyn Jenner comes up.  The tattoo artist turns to me and says “What do you think about that, Bro?”

I was at a crossroads– do I out myself? Do I stay quiet? I weighed the options, and seeing as how we were almost done at the shop, I figured it wasn’t worth the time or energy to get into it.  So, I simply said “I think it’s pretty amazing and brave of her to be who she is.”  And he paused for a moment, then said “Yeah, I guess it is pretty brave.”

The person I brought along with me on this adventure pulls out her cell phone and texts me “#passing.”  Indeed! #passing!

So now that I’m #passing, I have noticed more of the comments that the Buzzfeed transman discussed.  These are the few that happen most frequently to me.  If you meet a trans guy (or if you’re talking to me), think before you say any of the following:

1. “Wow! You’d never know you’re trans!” I am certain that I am guilty of having at least thought  this before, if not actually said it, before and since transitioning. It’s hard for me not to think this sometimes when I meet another trans person who #passes really well.

But in reality, what this implies is that the trans person is somehow trying to “fool” or “play a trick” on everyone, and if they’re passing, then they have succeeded. It also overemphasizes the physical aspects of transitioning as a way of validating someone’s trans identity.

All trans people are not able/willing/desiring to #pass, and we need to get over our obsession with this being a measure of true transness.

2. “But, who are you going to date?” Um, people?  I generally prefer to date humans.  Seriously though, what does this question mean? I am a queer person, who dates other queer people of all manner of stripes.

I generally try to date people that are attracted to me, want to hang out with me, and that I feel the same way about– isn’t that how anyone finds someone to date?

3. “What was your real name?” We talked about this.  If I want you to know, I’ll tell you.

4. “You’ve got a _______ _______ than me!” This could be “better beard,” “bigger arms,” deeper voice”, etc.

The part of that sentence that you’re not saying is “… and I’m a real dude, not some fake dude!” It’s insulting, and it makes it seem like all the hard work that I have put into shaping myself has been to create a costume, rather than it being me realizing my potential.

Us dudes comes in all shapes and sizes and origin stories.

5. “So what do you do when you have sex?” If you would not walk up to the cashier at the grocery store and ask them this question, then don’t ask me.

6. “What was wrong with being a butch lesbian?” Well, the word lesbian is one you only apply to women, first of all, a group to which I have never really considered myself to belong.

This isn’t about being butch or femme, it’s about so much more.  I can be femme even in my new more male body, just like I could be butch in my more female version of my body. Being a butch lesbian still makes you a woman, which I am not.

7. “If you sleep with men, doesn’t that just make you a straight woman?” Nope.  If you can’t figure out why this isn’t true, then I have taught you nothing. 🙂

Next post: things you can ask….

1 thought on “Things You Probably Shouldn’t Say to a Trans Guy When He’s #Passing”

  1. Yes to all of these! I’d like to add a couple, if you don’t mind:

    (1) “Have you had __________ surgery?”/”So do you have a _________ ?”/”But you don’t have boobs.” Or any other question prying into my surgical status, genital configuration, or personal medical details. I still can’t fathom why some folks assume that trans folks want to share this information with a complete stranger.

    (2) “What does your family think of this?”/”How did your family react to your transition?” — maybe this is more true for those of us that transitioned a long time ago when things sucked exponentially more, but the family stuff was (and to some extent still is) hard and isn’t something that I want to talk about with strangers. That said, YMMV.


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