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Comment: Dear cis people…

Naith Payton August 6, 2015

Dear cis people.

A lot of you have got much better about not asking us about our genitals, or our medical history. Well done, and thank you for that. It’s much appreciated.

However, there are quite a few things you all keep saying and you probably shouldn’t. Here’s a few things to work on.

You don’t look trans – I couldn’t tell when I met you.

I know you mean it as a compliment. I know you’re just being nice. But stop it.

You’re complimenting a person on their ability to not look like what they are. You’re telling them they look like a cis person, and that’s better than looking trans.

Of course, plenty of trans people want to blend in, to not look trans, for a variety of reasons – usually safety. But rarely because they believe that appearing trans is inherently a bad thing. It’s not.

 

She’s prettier than me! He’s got a better beard than me! She’s got nicer legs than me! He’s stronger than me!

I know you think this is a compliment too. A trans person is doing well as something typically associated with their gender – and they’re doing it better than a cis person!

But it’s the tone of surprise. The shock and amazement that a trans person can be attractive, or can be successful at fitting into gendered norms.

Do give us compliments when we look good, when we’ve made an effort with our appearance. But not in a way that centres the compliment on our transness. Compliment us just like you’d compliment anyone else – “I like your haircut” or “You look very smart in that suit,” is universal. You can keep saying that.

Definitely don’t compliment us on our ability to fit gender norms. Some of us want to, and some of us don’t. But the main thing is that we shouldn’t HAVE to. Just like cis people.

 

What do your parents think about it? Are they OK with you being trans?

This is a surprisingly common question and I just don’t get it. Why do you need to know?

I might give you a pass if you’re a family member or very old friend, but other than that – what are you hoping to gain from it.

If you’re hoping to hear some juicy story – a heartwarming tale of love and acceptance, or a tragic, possibly violent rejection – well, our lives aren’t for your entertainment.

For most of us, it’s somewhere in the middle. And that’s not very interesting. It’s also very personal. Asking us outright to tell you something that could be traumatic or difficult for us just isn’t cool.

If we want to tell you, we will. If you want to support us or help us with a difficult situation, we will come to you. All you have to do is be a good friend.

More: cis, Trans, Transgender

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