Thursday, July 18, 2013

If you start off what you're saying with "I know trans people don't like to hear it, but..."

* I use mostly trans male centered language in this because we are the target of the conversations I've had.  The base advice applies to not only trans women and nonbinary folk, but pretty much everybody in an oppressed party you are not a part of.

So a friend posted this article about menstrual blood that in one portion makes the case that the way we talk about menstruation is too gender-essentialist and assumes that all women menstruate and only women menstruate, which isn't true in either regard.  A friend of hers (who I don't know) took issue with the language, saying such things as "I am unaware of non-women who menstruate. - Regardless of what you choose to call yourself, if you menstruate, you are a woman)" and, when my friend mentioned trans men, explained that she already knew about this issue, saying "I'm sorry if that pisses off transgender people, but this isn't a philosophical or political argument."

This actually did piss me off to the point of shaking, but not necessarily because of this person.  Based on the entirety of what she wrote, I am forced to assume that she's quite frankly kind of an open transphobe, and I don't concern myself much with them outside of a legal context.  The issue is that this sort of dipshitted behavior isn't limited to people who are proud of not giving a fuck about trans people.

See, several months ago I wound up blocking somebody on a social network because although he and I got along very well on a personal level and was actively in relationships with us, he had a habit of posting similar dipshittery, only this time from the perspective of a cis guy who is romantically inclined toward trans people.  Now, enjoying relationships with trans people is kind of a controversial topic to begin with, but that's not really the problem for me... the issue was that time and time again he would post insensitive bullshit--notably proclaiming that cis men and trans men are not only different due to socialization or other factors, but are different genders altogether--prefacing it with the phrase "I know trans people don't like to hear it, but..."

Alright, cis people.  We need to have a fucking talk.

If you have any shred of desire to even pretend to look like an ally, or somebody who works in solidarity with trans people, or somebody who wants romantic relationships with us, here's a quick tip:  If you are planning on saying something that begins with something like...

"I know that trans people don't like to hear it, but..."
"I'm sorry if that pisses off transgender people, but..."
"I know this is probably cis bias, but..."

Stop.  Stop right fucking there.

Stop right there and ask yourself something.  Ask yourself "Why do I really feel the need to put my voice into this conversation?  Why like this?"

Because here's the deal.  Saying something like this out of ignorance might annoy me, but I'm also inundated with it so I'm slightly used to it by now.  People believing that I am a distinct gender from cis men rather than a particular way of expressing it (just as black manhood and white manhood might be interpreted different, or Christian manhood and Pagan manhood, etc.), people believing that only women or all women menstruate/have the potential to require abortion care/get breast cancer/etc., these are things that are ignorant but so common that I don't automatically blame cis people for not understanding them.

But when you say these things and have the nerve to preface or punctuate it with a statement like that, it proves that you know that trans people find it offensive (and you probably even know why we find it offensive) and yet you choose to say it anyway.  Is it not self-evident why this is ridiculously problematic?  Not to mention horribly rude?

And that's the real issue here.  Cis people, when you do stuff like this, with the full understanding that what you are saying is a cis-biased statement that trans people generally do not get behind, you are being a shitty ally.  Because not only is it not our job to educate you (don't be thick, it's 2013, Google exists), it is not your job to educate us.  We already know us.  We have the lived experience to speak about things like this... and you don't.