The Fundiegelical: “You may think you’re ‘happy’ by wearing the clothing of the opposite sex, but you’re living in sin and you’re going straight to hell! Jesus loves you.”
I’ve had friends and family respond this way. “Sure, you’re happy now, but will you still be in 10 years?” I could ask you the same: will you be happy in 10 years? Will anyone? Happiness not guaranteed in life, but I’m not doing this for happiness alone, I’m doing this to live life more honestly.
“Stop trying to act like a man.” Oh, well since you’ve said so… *eyeroll* Telling me to stop being my gender is about as foolhardy as me telling you to stop being yours. And even claiming I’m trying to act like a man is missing the point of how I’m not a man, I’m genderqueer.
Bonus irony points that I’m an atheist humanist. I’m not even rebelling against some ancient superstitious text, I just don’t care. Might as well reference Mother Goose to me, for all the impact it will have on my life.
The “Enlightened” Liberal: “But gender doesn’t even matter, because deep down, we’re all the same. So why is it such a big deal what I call you?”
This is always said to me by someone who consistently presents as one single gender for their entire life: man name, man pronouns, man appearance, man social role, etc. They almost never have their gender questioned or mistaken for a different gender, and on the rare occasion it does happen, they all get a good laugh and it doesn’t happen again. They don’t have to live in a world where they feel out of place or disadvantaged for having an “invalid” gender, so they don’t have the experience of a life where gender validity actually is a big deal, because it never has been to them.
Attempting to reason with such people is a noble endeavor, but ultimately a pointless one, for the simple reason that they can’t personally relate to what I’m talking about. The best approach therefore is to simply appeal to emotions by saying “do this because it matters to me; and if you care about my feelings, you’ll do your best to respect my wishes”. A good friend will accept that as is.
The TERF: “By embracing a gender role opposite your assigned sex, you are reifying gender/privilege and thus making it that much harder for us to smash gender. I know that sounds contradictory but, if you’d been a feminist for as long as I have, you’d understand.”
Forcing someone to remain in the gender role that matches their birth-designated sex is just as bad. As is claiming that people won’t ever want to change their bodies for their own reasons (transhumanism
, anyone?). Plus, plenty of trans people don’t even want to reinforce gender binary roles, but they have no choice in order to survive as their trans gender in a culture which hates them. They’re as much against prescribed gender roles as you are, and are happy to buck the system along with you.
I’m willing to strike a truce with any of the radical feminists who come at me with this objection to my gender: you stop trying to force me into your gender roles, and I won’t force you into any of mine.
The Proto-TERF: “Of course I don’t have anything against trans people, but abortion/sex work/breast cancer/ovarian cancer/whatever is and has always been a women’s issue! Why do you want to take it away from women?”
Because asking you to share equals stealing. Right…
Don’t you get it? The more rights we all share, the safer those rights are. If even a man has abortion rights, then especially women have them too. If even a man has health coverage for breast cancer, than especially women are covered. The thing about equality is that it makes the world better for everyone.
The Ungendering Fetishist: “Hey, I don’t have anything against sh*m*les! I think you’re hot! I watch sh*m*le porn all the time.”
This has never happened to me, but if you say this around me, I will school you so hard your head will be spinning for a week. Do. Not. Use. That. Word.
The Clueless Oppression-Olympian: “Transness is just a white/abled/Western issue, so why should I care about it?”
This statement is so objectively false, it’s laughable. Except that it stops being funny when it blatantly erases trans people of color/trans people with disabilities/trans people in non-Western cultures.
The Incrementalist: “Look, people just aren’t ready to accept trans folks yet. So instead of arguing about what pronouns to use for you, we should focus on something we can actually accomplish, like [insert other tenuously-related SJ cause here].”
Translation: “This issue makes me feel uncomfortable to the point where I’d rather not talk about it, but I don’t want to sound like I’m an intolerant person, so I’ll pretend it’s because I care too much about social justice as opposed to not enough.” You’re not fooling anyone, bro.
Look, the thing about trans people is… we know that most people don’t accept us. We don’t need you to validate their bigotry, we need you to help give us the support we so desperately lack, to help us carry on in this society.
The Genital-Focused: “I totally respect and support trans people, but I would never date one. Because ewww.”
This information is almost always volunteered entirely out of context, and I always wish it wasn’t. Why? Because it’s creepy! Why do you need to bring your genital fetishes into discussions about my gender! I’m not talking about my gender because I’m curious about what kind of tail you like to chase, I’m talking about it because it’s who I am.
Also, this is really
creepy when applied to children. I’ve heard people say they refuse to respect the gender identity of children unless same children have gotten “the operation”. Think about it: you’re obsessing over the genitals of little children
instead of respecting their humanity. *shudder*
The Broad-Stroke Painter: “I once met a trans person who was selfish/mean/creepy/bad in general, so you’re all like that and I won’t respect any of you.”
“I once met a trans person who I decided was acceptable, so I’ll accept you.” Gee, thanks?
Similarly, I had a woman derail a convo on trans* rights with how her abusive ex-husband turned out to be a trans woman. Because the ex was abusive, she deserved the right to misgender her ex in front of other trans people, ignoring how much it mattered to us that she not rub that act of social violence in our faces. Life is already difficult for most of us, without being constantly reminded of how a single resentful cisgender
person could strip us of our humanity on a whim.
The Inveterate Essentialist: “But… you can’t be a woman, because you have a PENIS! And chromosomes! And… a PENIS!”
AKA, the “science is real, yo!” objection. Yes, science is real. I live a science-based life. But the human interpretation of scientific data is fluid and fallible. I’m not going to be all like “well since I’m genderqueer, I no longer have XX chromosomes”, because that would be anti-science, as would claiming that XX chromosomes aren’t a primary player in determining whether I can grow a fetus in my uterus. But your interpretation that XX chromosomes or a uterus are exclusively what defines my gender is limited and outdated. After all, Pluto used to be a planet, and now it’s not.
The What-About-Teh-Cis Whiner: “I know my refusal to call you ‘she’ hurts you, but you have to understand that your demand to call you ‘she’ hurts me, too. What about my feelings?”
This one is difficult to handle with friends, precisely because they’re friends. I do care about their feelings - my heart isn’t made of ice. But I have to take care of my own mental health first, and that means not trying to push myself back into a box where I don’t belong. I’m willing to consult with friends as to what would make things easier for them, but always with the understanding that it is an entirely reasonable request to have my gender respected in the same way I respect their genders.
The Pig-Headed “Skeptic”: “Do you have actual evidence that you’re really a woman? No, of course you don’t, because it’s impossible by definition. No, shut up; I’m right and you’re wrong, PERIOD.”
Yes, I’ve had someone say this to me! Many people, in fact. ”But what’s the actual definition of ‘genderqueer’? Or even of ‘man’ or ‘woman’? You don’t have one? That means they don’t exist, so shut up!”
This is always said to me by someone who consistently presents as one single gender for their entire life: woman name, woman pronouns, woman appearance, woman social role, etc. They almost never have their gender questioned or mistaken for a different gender, and on the rare occasion it does happen, they all get a good laugh and it doesn’t happen again.
But somehow when it comes to my identity, gender itself conveniently stops being “real”.
The “Free Speech” Whiner: “Don’t you think that, in the spirit of free and open discussion, you should listen to my side of things instead of just dismissing it out of hand as ‘bigotry’?”
Sure! As soon as I’m had my fill of my own discussion about how fun it is to abuse puppies. Oh wait, that’s tasteless, heartless, cruel, not fit for public discussion? Exactly.
The Devil’s Advocate: “I’m not saying prejudice is right, but, to be fair, it is a little weird for someone to present as a woman and yet have a penis.”
Again, the thing about trans people is… we know that most people don’t accept us. We don’t need you to validate their bigotry, we need you to help give us the support we so desperately lack, to help us carry on in this society.
The Self-Proclaimed “Ally”: “How dare you say I’ve been cissexist? Don’t you know how very supportive I’ve been of you and your causes? Why aren’t you grateful?”
Hmm… where have I heard this attitude before? Oh yeah
Seriously, if it’s that easy to lose you as an ally, you weren’t really prepared to stick up for my rights in the first place.
The “Edgy” Comedian: “Look, it was a joke. I’m sorry you’re too unsophisticated to understand why it’s funny; I guess I’m just too edgy for you. Maybe one day, when you grow up a little, you’ll stop trying to censor humor.”
I’m sorry you’re too unsophisticated to understand why it’s not funny; I guess I’m just too real for you. Maybe one day, when you grow up a little, you’ll stop trying to make the world a safer place for bigots.
(Hint to cis people: don’t do any of these things.)