November 9, 2004
A Word About Trans Etiquette
In just a few days, thousands of homo activists will descend upon St. Louis for the Creating Change Conference.
I found a passage in the conference book that rankled me. It's a memo on how to treat Trans people.
I suppose I should be full of love, tolerance and acceptance - but being told I should not "assume" someone's "gender" is....well, stupid and frankly, unrealistic.
I do think folks should respectful of Trans folks, as they should be of all folks, regardless of race, age, religion, etc. I do not think that language needs to be neutered 'coz some folks make lousy looking men and/or women.
As an overweight, white fag, who loves bracelets and oversized floral accessories, I accept the fact that folks will look at me with bewilderment from time to time. It is annoying (especially at gay bars) - but it's a choice I've made. And if someone screws up a pronoun, I don't care. I live with my choices and what I do.
While I suppose some folks would argue that Trans folks don't have a "choice," per se......but a trip to MAC or the Bass Pro Shop could certainly remove all doubts from even the most unsophisticated Hillbilly.
And as for "bathroom sensitivity"....please. Have none of these queer activists ever been to a gay bar? The girls bathroom is full of boys....granted, they're usually doing a bump in the stall - but who the hell cares?
Just put the seat down and move on.
Perhaps, I just grown tired of all this overt sensitivity.....and I need to move on to another arena....
Here's the passage that worked my last good nerve:
There are many Trans people (Transgender, Transsexual,Genderqueer and more) at Creating Change. To be inclusive and improve the quality of life for Trans people here, please read and act upon the following.
Please do not assume anyone’s gender, even people you may have met in the past.
A person’s external appearance may not match their internal gender identity.
You cannot know the gender or sex of someone by their physical body, voice, appearance or mannerisms.
It is best to ask, “What pronoun do you prefer?” or “How do you identify?” before using pronouns or gendered words for anyone.
In group situations where you don’t have an opportunity to ask someone what words they prefer, try using gender-neutral phrases like “the person in the red shirt,” instead of “that woman or man.”
One way of acknowledging Trans people’s needs is to designate restrooms gender neutral. In bathrooms, many Trans people face harassment that can lead to anything from deep discomfort to arrest or death. Regardless of what bathroom you are in, please let everyone pee in peace. Each of us can decide for ourselves in which bathroom
Please listen to Trans people’s needs and stories when they are volunteered; yet please respect people’s privacy and boundaries and do not ask unnecessary questions. Educate yourself through books, web sites, and Trans workshops. Then please join the many hardworking allies that are working to respond appropriately to transphobic situations. Respectful allies, who learn from and with Trans people and then educate others, are important for successful Trans liberation.
Thank you for your help.
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