Chances are we aren’t the first transgender person you’ve met. Very many of us pass largely undetected around you, yes, even in bathrooms and locker rooms and dressing rooms, both male and female. We simply don’t look remarkable. I look like a woman, I don’t look like a guy, act like a guy, dress like a guy, talk like a guy, and so on.
Long ago I posted a URL to Calpernia Addams questions you shouldn’t ask a trans person. It remains an amusing (but entirely accurate list of subjects you really shouldn’t bring up).
I was reminded the other day of how important it is to keep reminding folks about this. Let me talk a bit about some of the questions I’ve fielded and why I feel the way I personally do.
What’s Your Real Name, or what was your old name
My real name is Rachel. It’s the name on my driver’s license, my social security card, my passport and shortly on my birth certificate. I go by no other name. This is true for most every person who transitions.
My old name is only an historical fact. It doesn’t offend me, but for people I don’t have a shared history with from before transition it needlessly creates one. I prefer to only be known as Rachel, a woman they’ve met. Not Rachel who was originally X born a guy.
There’s also this connotation that I’m play acting a role. That I’m really this other person who puts on a costume and becomes Rachel for the day but becomes X, a guy, when I go home. The truth is I’m always Rachel, a woman. Further, the name X reminds me of a part of me that was in pain. I don’t regret my old life, but it wasn’t fun being a man.
X is a transgender woman, do you know X
I’m not sure why this thought process happens. I’m pretty sure nobody would say to a person from Spain, hey, you’re Spanish, do you know X, their Spanish?
About .3 to .5 percent of the population is transgender. That is more or less a million people. No, I don’t know so and so who’s transgender. Even in Massachusetts there are an estimated 30,000+ transgender people. You do the odds. Don’t ask the question, it’s just silly.
Have you had a sex change operation
How about you tell me the most private thing in your life first? Seriously, why would you need to know? There are people I tell for my own good reasons. A lot of this has to do with educating people. However, that’s my choice, not your question.
Someone’s decision to have surgery is generally not driven by sexual reasons. Reasons people don’t have surgery include: cost, concern about risks, not being a suitable candidate for surgery, and not desiring the surgery.
Ill informed statements about SRS such as they remove your male genitals
Usually this is a statement by someone who’s trying to get an emotional reaction, but most people have no idea what reassignment surgery consists of. FtM surgeries include bilateral mastectomy with work to make the nipples more appropriately masculine. Phalloplasty where they create a realistic looking penis from skin grafts (requires an implant for erections and is not erotically sensate). In addition testosterone therapy will cause the clitorus to grow a bit into a bit of a small penis so another option is to “release” that so it can form a mini erection. Sometimes transmen elect to get a hysterectomy, but they can also leave open the possibility of later bearing a child.
MtF SRS consists of reworking the penile skin, usually with some material from the scrotum into a vagina. The glans of the penis is reduced and becomes the neo clitorus. Some surgeons use a section of the urethra to line the vaginal vestibule with mucosal tissue (mine did). The remainder of the scrotum becomes the labia majora and part of the penile skin becomes the labia minora. Most of this is appropriate from an embryological viewpoint. The results are very good both functionally and is fully sensate.
In no sense are the male genitalia “lopped off”, it is much more accurate to say refashioned.
Some of my best friends are gay/trans
Yes, well I don’t care. Really, I could not care less. I care about how I’m treated, not who your friends are or aren’t. It doesn’t score points with me.
I can’t speak for others, but what I want is for my being trans to not be an issue. I don’t particularly want to talk about it unless there really is a reason for the discussion. I want to be seen as a normal person. Trans is part of who I am, not the main this about who I am.
It’s like this. I have Parkinson’s. It would be like if everyone primarily saw me as someone with Parkinson’s and not primarily as a person. Trans men and Trans women are primarily, first and foremost people.
Please remember that.