One unexpected thing about being with a transgender person is that you get to become a transgender spokesperson as a side gig. At least that’s how it went for my husband and I.
I find most folks that are not in the transgender community will not actually ask me anything about being transgender. There are exceptions. Terrible, rude, and ignorant exceptions, but for the most part nobody talks about it. In fact, most cis gendered folks trying to be accepting seem very uncomfortable about the topic in general. Everyone seems very very shy.
I think this is because most folks don’t want to insult a transgender person. They don’t know the terminology, and know we are up in arms about some questions. (Like our genitals!) I don’t think most folks know more than that.
This means, my husband gets every weird transgender question out there. People will go out of their way to ask him questions all the time.
I first noticed this when he went up to tell his family I was transitioning. He went by himself, and they had a lot of questions. More than either of us would have thought. When I went up later, nobody said a word, though. This was to become a pattern with how people interact with us.
It’s played out among friends, acquaintances, and coworkers every since. People we interact with seem genuinely very curious about how we are married for so long, that I am transgender, and what that means for us. They will talk to my husband for ages about it.
Then, as soon as I come along, there is silence.
I’m not saying every transgender person is up for yet another round robin of transgender 101 with everyone they meet. I’ve chosen to be open about it, though, and have always been completely transparent about questions to a degree. I’ll discuss the process, medication, and what transgender folks in general go through. I’ll discuss in detail how cool my top surgery was, and that I love my round furry belly, and my facial hair.
It’s just a funny disconnect, that folks will ask my husband a lot of questions, but are too polite to ask me.
Now my husband is my official spokesperson. Which is really weird. He is patient, but I’m sure eventually he’ll be very tired of it.
I guess it all goes back to how transgender is a stigma in our society. For people, I am this huge weird freaky thing. In reality, being transgender is the least unusual thing about my life. (To paraphrase the famous and gorgeous.) The only thing that has changed with that, is that my physical appearance changed, and folks stopped second guessing me.
If it wasn’t such a huge stigma, then I think people would be more likely to approach me directly. Nobody wants to insult me, but it’s more than just being polite. I embody a huge social stigma, and it would be insulting to infer to me directly anything about it. If it was really no big deal, people could ask if you were gay or transgender, and there would be no risk of insult just by asking if someone was.
This is why I think my husband is now in an unenviable position to be the tour guide to all things transgender and me. I appreciate every time it happens, how willing he is to unwaveringly stand in the face of sometimes very ignorant people.
When I did transition, I don’t think this quirk was one either of us expected. It’s part of the deal when you are with someone that’s transgender though.
So if you are getting together with someone that is transgender, the longer you with them, the most likely you will be the transgender tour guide.
Yes, this is so true. Coming out as gay, I got the weird comments (1990s). Coming out as trans, my wife gets most of the weird comments. I have gotten a few weird comments from people not hip to the new lingo and stuck in the 70s or something. I’ve actually had a couple of coworkers say, “Welcome to the team.” Lolololol. I never saw sexual orientation as a team and thought it weird that people call it that, but boy/girl does seem like a team to me, given my experiences in elementary school and my actual experiences as a girls sports team member (I kept trying to get my mom to sign me up for mixed sex sports teams but she never would).
It seems so weird to me that folks won’t even ask the sometimes super personal questions to the person they are about.