- 5 years ago
- Wedding: September 2013
Maybe the other celebs mentioned had previously transitioned and so Bruce is the first to make the Transition completely publically?
I’m really thankful you posted this thread. I follow a blog which documents the a FTM transition, and I have always had questions about how to address someone or respectfully ask what pronoun they prefer. From the blog I actually learned a new gender identity being, GenderQueer which is someone who doesn’t identify strongly with either Gender, despite having the ‘obvious’ physical Characteristics of one sex or another. The Man who’s blog I was reading preferred to be referred to in the masculine or male pronouns, despite looking traditionally female (during his transitional journey he went through the genderqueer identity) and would be upset to referred to in Female pronouns or as Miss. His husband would introduce him as “My husband” to correct people when they made the assumption to use female pronouns. The blog really made me realize that despite looking a certain Gender, doesn’t mean that a person identifies with that Gender, and the layers to gender idenitity and sexual are so complex and not always simply, man or woman, male or female.
First off, trans men (like Sam) are men. Trans women are women. A lot of your concerns aren’t really all that complicated if you can internalize this.
Refer to people with the pronouns they personally prefer. He/she/they/ze whatever, it’s common courtesy to respect whatever a person indicates they wish to be referred to with.
SRS has nothing to do with what pronouns you refer to a person with. Pronouns are totally up to that person’s discretion and has nothing to do with what you imagine their genitals to look like. It’s none of your business. Also important to note there’s no such thing as “the surgery”/SRS. There’s no single surgery that all trans people who want to go that route have (whether ftm or mtf, this holds true). So, for example, “Sam” is now “he” because he told you that he’s a man and wants to be referred to as such.
Furthermore, people who haven’t had any medical intervention at all are no less trans and are no less the gender they’re telling you they are than people who have had medical intervention. Not all trans people want surgery or even hormone therapy, that doesn’t negate any asepct of their gender identity. Just from your post, this sounds like a concept you’re struggling with/haven’t heard before. You don’t need a vagina to be a woman. You don’t need a penis to be a man.
If Sam is a man who is attracted to women, then he’s likely heterosexual (only he’s in a position to determine his sexuality, though).
If Sam dates a woman who doesn’t know his history, it’s up to him to decide if/when he wants to tell her about that aspect of himself.
Violence against transgender/transsexual people is sadly the norm. And yes, it’s been the case where a trans person has been murdered and their proven/confessed murderers have essentially gotten off because somehow “I found out their genitals didn’t match what I expected from their gender presentation and I went into a rage and killed him/her” has been a successful “”””””defense”””””” in the court of law. The most famous case is the murder of Brandon Teena, but the panic defense was especially successful for the murderer of Joel Robles (be careful if you look up these cases, as they’re incredibly graphic and horrific).
California’s the only state that has banned this defense. Let that sink in. In any other state in the US, you can claim this “trans panic defense” when you’ve killed somebody. That’s essentially the court system saying it makes sense to murder a trans person. So Sam’s well within his rights to judge each situation on its individual merits when deciding who to tell about this aspect of his identity.
Not to mention, if he’s upfront from the beginning, he might find it really hard to find anyone open minded enough to date him (that’s not even taking into account whether or not they’re romantically compatible with him). If he waits until he and his partner get to know each other better, he runs the risk of being accused of “lying” and “leading them on”. Again, what he tells anyone much less his romantic partners is ultimately none of your beeswax, but hopefully this will help you understand some of the factors he’s likely weighing in his mind when he makes that decision.
To sum up: 1. It’s up to the person in question what pronouns you should use to refer to them by. This has nothing to do with whether or not they’ve had any surgeries or not, but rather what they’re telling you they’re comfortable with. 2. None of your business who any trans person is out to – whether they’re romantically invovled with them or not. 3. SRS does not equal trans. You’re a man if you identify as a man, you’re a woman if you identify as a woman, etc. Whatever genitalia a person possesses does not negate any of that. And SRS itself is really a misnomer.
Sorry for the essay. I think it’s probably clear this is an issue near and dear to my heart and my life. Feel free to message me if you want to discuss anything.
Also, I hope I don’t come accross as curt or mean or anything. Seriously, props to you for recognizing that you don’t understand an issue and taking the time to try to educate yourself on it. Agree with you that Bruce Jenner is not the first trans person to be out and about in the media, but he may be the first trans person that a lot of people in this generation are actively aware of.
Oh, also! I know you said you don’t have any trans friens, but this is a situation that has come up in my own life recently.
Friend A met Friend B when Friend B still presented as a woman. A year later, Friend B came out as trans and told Friend A “I identify as a man”. Friend A would occassionally slip up and refer to Friend B with female pronouns because Friend A spent a year referring to Friend B in that way. This really hurt Friend B, but Friend A would apologize profusely every time she slipped up and worked hard to be conscientious about refering to Friend B as “he”.
All that to say, goodhearted people screw up and refer to people with the wrong pronoun because they’re used to a different one or they’re used to their brain being able to identify someone on-sight as male/female and label them with the appropriate pronouns. It can be tough to see someone with breasts who has told you they’re a man and remember to say “he”. Make sure if you do use the wrong pronouns with someone, you apologize and do better in the future.
Also worthy of note re one of your questions: before Friend B began transitioning, he was dating a woman and they both identified as lesbians. After Friend B transitioned, they were still dating but identified as a straight couple – Friend B identifies as straight (still only attracted to women), Friend B’s girlfriend now identifies as bisexual.
Just food for thought, I guess.
And since I see someone mentioned documentaries about trans people as a resource, be really cautious. They can be super exploitative and (subtly, if you don’t know what’s what) degrading to trans people. Made-for TV documentaries are often the worst culprits. If you’re watching a documentary and they spend time showing a trans person (normally a trans woman) putting on make-up or getting dressed: run. Run far away.
The first reply covered it really well. I’m a high school teacher with several trans students and I have a few goals within my own language and usage as an ally that I’m working on:
– I’m trying to stop saying “preferred” pronouns. Preferences seem optional. Now I say “Which pronouns do you use?” and that’s how I phrase it when I talk to the kids.
– I’m trying to stop saying “born female” or “used to be a girl” and all things like it. That’s not really accurate because generally speaking, trans people have felt disassociated from their assigned gender for their entire lives. Now I’m trying to say “assigned female at birth” or “was raised as a girl” to shift focus off any sort of female identify for that person. They often didn’t self-identify as a girl ever – other people decided they were based on their anatomy.
Trans girl here
I am a woman first of all. Second regardless of treatments I’m onr. 3Rd I am a,lesbian cause I like girls and I hope to get ffeminine enough for that to show but regardless I am not straight. I don’t idenify as female I am one and yes I’m scared I have a 1 in 12 murder ratee
Something I just saw on tumblr that might also be helpful: “I think a lot of people have trouble understanding transgender issues because they try to see themselves as trans, but come at it from the wrong direction. e. g. a cis woman tries to understand transness by going, “what if I felt like/wanted to be a man” when she should be approaching it as “what if I, a woman, was so easily mistaken for a man that I had to pretend to be one” (Source)”
Has anyone here heard of the pronouns ze, hir and hirs (typically I believe pronounced zee, heer, and heers)? I’ve met a couple of genderqueer people who use them, for example: this is Sidney, ze is genderqueer, and thankfully hir parents are very supportive, ze is happy they’re hirs.
Anyways, I’ve had a couple of trans friends, and it’s really fascinating. Luckily both of them seem to have supportive families. One of them transitioned right before starting high school, and I think he never developed breasts, or they were quite small, so as far as I know he hadn’t had top surgery. Also, he’s gay. In a panel on trans issues and visibility which he was a panelist for, he said that as far as sex with men goes, he can use his vagina if he wants to. Sorry if that’s Too Much Information, but it makes sense to me. Using or not using the genitalia of the sex associated with a gender which you don’t identify with is a very personal decision. And by the way, at the time he had a boyfriend who also identified as gay.
I haven’t seen my other friend in person or talked to him in a few years, but we’re Facebook friends. When I knew him, he was a butch lesbian. Gradually he started to post more and more about things like bulking up at the gym and being the handsomest, toughest one there regardless of what was in his shorts. Then one day a few months ago he changed his Facebook name and announced that he was trans, had just come out as trans to his mother, and would like to be referred to as (New male name similar to old name) and by male pronouns. And he just had top surgery and has been very open and happy about that. It’s still a little difficult for me, while writing this, to remember to use male pronouns to describe him, but I’m doing my best because it’s the right thing to do! I don’t think most trans people get offended by an honest mistake here and there, it’s a change, and your best effort to support trans friends, family, acquaintances, and the community means a lot.
I think I’d like to point out a couple things that weren’t really addressed in the other comments.
Sometimes asking someone what pronoun they prefer is a sticky situation. My fiancee is a trans guy but that isn’t how he introduces himself. He hopes that he is “passing” and any stranger would automatically assume he is a guy. So, when someone asks him that, he feels bad about himself because he thinks the world still doesn’t see him as a man. That part is difficult and I see why. I know that for a stranger that is kind of confusing because they aren’t mind readers and they usually just don’t know whats appropriate or offensive, etc.
So, if you are speaking to someone who maybe you don’t know what gender they are, or are unsure, just stop and listen to the way they talk about themselves and the way their closest friends talk to them. That is what you need to pick up on, and If you can’t figure it out, just try to remain neutral and polite. If they bring up the subject (I’d say that the majority won’t) then sure, talk about it. Otherwise, just try to be respectful and polite.
also, about the dating question. I previously identied as a lesbian (and now I just don’t identify as any sexual orientation because I’ve found the love of my life and I just don’t care) but I met my future husband through an online datin site. I thought he was a lesbian as well, but after some research on Facebook I realized he was a transman and found a way to delicately bring it up. It really made no difference to me (and I’m glad it didn’t )because he is my absolute favorite person in the world. No one is required to tell you what parts they have or did have.
One more thing, about the surgeries. Speaking from being with a trans man, not everyone wants surgeries, nor feels like they have to have them in order to be the gender they truly are. For instance, my guy wants top surgery and hormone replacement therapy. The options for bottom surgery are rather gruesome and altogether unpleasant..
I hope you still read these and I hope this gives a little more insight. 🙂
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