1. What’s your birth name?
What’s your winter weight? Oh, is that rude of me to ask? Is it rude for me to speculate that you may be a different size in the winter than in the summer? Is it completely misogynist to suggest that your shape should not change? Ever? You’re right. Those feelings you just felt, that’s how I feel when you feel like you’re entitled to know my birth name. Would you also like to know my social security number? It’s hilarious to me when people get uptight when I ask who they voted for, but asking me something deeply personal about myself is totally fair game. Transitioning means that you have left behind that person. Yes, part of whoever you were born as, and who you grew up as (depending on when you transitioned) will always be a huge part of you, but that kind of sharing is for family, friends, and my therapist.
2. So what does it feel like?
I actually don’t fully understand what this question means. I wasn’t rebirthed from a dragon’s flaming vagina. I just like, you know, started living life as the person I was meant to be. So I guess, it feels great? How does that brand new job you just landed feel? How does finding out that your crush is totally crushing on you too feel? How does playing with a gaggle of puppies in an open field feel? Like pure joy? Accomplishment? Happiness? A little scary, but a whole lot of perfect? That’s what it feels like.
3. What do your parents think?
What do YOUR parents think about that time you drank too much, got into a cab, and thought that the touch screen was actually mobile karaoke? I’m an adult — while my parents have some bearing on my life, they are not the be all and end all of who I am and how I am. Of course they know. But mad, sad, happy, or impartial — it really would not have mattered. Shall we talk about your family secrets now? No, that would be rude? Oh, well I just figured, because you think we’re the best of friends, we were equally sharing. Me being transgender is not like you deciding whether or not to join the Peace Corps. It wasn’t a choice, so neither mommy nor daddy really mattered. Their support? The best. But this is who I am, with or without them.
4. So who do you date?
Do you have a comfy couch and maybe an eighth of bourbon? Because this could take a while. Being trans*, that’s my gender. Who I date, my sexuality — they aren’t mutually exclusive. I wish I could leave it at that, but I don’t think I’ve gotten you yet. You know how one of your friends likes buff guys, but your other friend is totally into lumbersexuals, and all you really want is a guy you can laugh with, but all of you went to the SAME high school? The fact that you all share the same alma mater has nothing to do with the guys you like.
Let me put it in (kind of) scientific terms: Gender is that thing that was slapped on your birth certificate. It was determined by what was between or not between your legs. If you are a trans* person, that gender marker was wrong — psychologically you were born with a different gender than your baby body represented. Sexuality refers to who you want to sleep with, settle down with, Tinder with, etc.
5. I keep seeing all of this transgender equality stuff in the news. Is it really that big of a deal?
So glad you asked! And with a smile on your face. You amazingly progressive person, you. Yes! Yes times a million, yes to the moon and back, yes infinity! The whole equality thing? Huge deal, seeing as I can get fired in most states for being trans* — that, I’m sure you can imagine, is a huge fucking deal.
Also, not to stay in this dark place but you did bring it up, did you know that a 2013 report from the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found that LGBT people of color were nearly twice as likely to experience physical violence than their white counterparts? And according to the Anti-Violence Project, transgender women made up 67 percent of anti-LGBT homicides in 2013. So yes, us gaining not only equal rights, but public acceptance is kind of a big deal. Remember how people used to think that women were second-class citizens? This is kind of like that.
6. I have so many questions. Who do I ask?
I know when I have a lot of questions, I usually turn to the internet before anything else. It kind of makes it clear to me what questions are actually okay to push out of my mouth piece. After the internet I usually like to confide in my friends, though I don’t know if your friends are as cool as mine. I’m sorry if they aren’t. Look, whether or not you have ever realized it, you have met a transgender person. You probably don’t even remember their name, and if you’re being honest, who it was. So what does that mean? Trans* people are just like everyone else you’ve ever met. We are human. Everything else is just a formality.