Though we may have the best of intentions, it can sometimes seem daunting to know what’s okay to ask and what’s not when talking to a transgender person. We may have a lot of questions and be curious, which is natural. But often, transgender people can feel like they are only their bodies, instead of the whole beautiful people that they are.
Last year at SALGA NYC, we launched a Transgender/Ally webpage to provide resources. We also created this flyer, which I’m happy to share with you here. Hopefully it answers some of your questions, and perhaps inspires new ones.
The most important thing to remember is that transgender people are PEOPLE first and foremost. We are not representatives or ambassadors of some mythical Transgender Nation. Be our friend, and we will share with you what we can. Be honest about what you know and don’t know, and let a trans person share with you as they feel comfortable.
It can be awkward for me to talk about the body I had before I transitioned, or the name my parents gave me when I was born, or the body parts I have. If I wasn’t such a hairy guy, I would feel like people weren’t really seeing me as the guy I am, but rather as the body I was born with, and that can be painful. I have at times felt like my body betrayed me, and I have had to deal with and process a lot of shame around it. So it can be difficult when someone focuses their attention and curiosity on those parts of me. I begin to feel like they don’t really see me, only what I am not.
And I’m just one example! There are as many personal stories and ways of being as there are people. I hope you will find these resources helpful. They were adapted from materials available online, and I thank “Sebastian” and the UC Davis LGBT Resource Center.