Simmons College is the third women’s college in the United States to officially accept trans students, both trans females and trans males who transition during their time there. Also, if anyone here is interested in applying, their Frequently asked Questions page says they work to ensure their trans students’ rooms are LGBTQ safe spaces and their student health insurance includes transgender health benefits.
I am participating in Trans*forming the Dialogue, Simmons College’s Online MSW Program’s campaign to promote an educational conversation about the transgender community. By participating in this campaign, I will be offering my perspective on what TO ask and what NOT to ask trans*people.
That being said, I’m not trans, so I’ve been picking the brains of people around me, including Jeremy. I asked Jeremy while we were on a chilly, drizzly walk to the grocery store. Zie stammered for a moment then laughed.
“I like when people ask me for my opinion on climate change or what my favourite colour is. Otherwise they can ask me what my gender is and then never comment on it again, unless they’re asking for my opinion on gender inequality. I really don’t like it when people ask me why I decided to be trans. I didn’t decide, I just am. I’m going to change the subject now…”
Then I asked my friends on several online groups and got these questions that should never be asked:
1. So, what’s in your pants? Do you have a penis?
2. Have you had surgery? So are you going to ya know, go the full way, get “the chop”?
3. What was your name before?
4. How can you be a guy if you still wear make up?
5. Non binary isn’t a thing really is it?
6. Don’t you think if we got rid of gender roles trans people would disappear?
7. Which bathroom do you use?
8. Are you sure you aren’t…. insert rude assumption here… ?
Oh and a huge one, which wasn’t a question but is still important. If you’re talking about someone’s past in front of others, please use their current pronouns. Not only is it more comfortable for the person you’re talking about but it can also be a huge safety risk as you’re outing them.
The one good question to ask is “What pronouns do you prefer?” As Jeremy pointed out, most people want to talk about their interests and not their genitals.
As a parent, please don’t ask me if that is a boy or a girl. Don’t ask me if I’m aware that my child looks half boy – half girl, I do have eyes and I’m the one who bought zir rhinestone earrings and zir perfume. Don’t ask me what genders my kidlet is interested in. That’s no one’s business except the person my kid ends up dating.
I also really don’t want to hear the word “trendy” coming out of anyone’s mouth. Who do these people think my kid’s being trendy for? I can barely get Jeremy out of zir room. And please attempt zir pronouns. Neither of us care if you mangle them. We don’t care if you use zie constantly because you’re not exactly sure how to use zir (or vice versa)… as long as you’re trying. If you aren’t sure how to use them, please feel free to ask.