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The Fine Line Of Trans Solildarity


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I don't know why, but I was reminded today of some drama I stumbled into on a trans-focused reddit board. One user made a comment about not feeling comfortable openly associating with other transwomen because she worried that it might hurt her ability to pass, and boy oh boy did every armchair psychologist and unbidden white knight come crawling out of the wood work on that one.


But that post always stuck with me, because it really makes me wonder. When did we reach the point where you aren't "trans enough" to be respected by other members of the LGBT community if you aren't willing to put your life in danger? I mean, especially as a transwoman of mixed race - I am acutely aware of the kind of risks I'm taking every time I come out to somebody new. I might put up a pretty strong face of calm and disdain in the face of discrimination, but that little nagging thought is always in the back of my mind - is it her? It is him? Is this the person who's going to be the one to attack me? To kill me?


And I can't help but feel like that sort of internalized transphobia - gatekeeping - is a crucial part of why OP isn't comfortable openly associating with other transwomen in her life. I've seen members of the trans community take it upon themselves to out other members to friends, family members or places of employment, either out of petty vengeance or because they thought they were "doing the right thing" and giving that person the "push they needed to come out of their shell." And that's fucking gross AND incredibly, incredibly dangerous.


I wonder if it's a natural consequence of the slow yet steady crawl towards greater social acceptance, and that seems to be an issue across the broad spectrum of LGBT issues - not an issue endemic to transfolk. Those of us old enough to likely have kids of our own now grew up in a very different time - even in the "liberal bastions" like NYC or SF, it was not uncommon to hear about another gay guy or lesbian or transman/woman who was murdered out in the open. Passing as straight or passing as your correct sex/gender WAS the gold standard, because that was the only way a lot of us could ever hope to find some relative measure of safety and security.


Then, somewhere along the way, it stopped being such a dirty thing to be queer across the spectrum. Our kids grew up in a world where more people will say "And?" rather than "What?" when you come out, and I feel like that's colored their perception of what the fight for social justice and equality means. For them, there's no reason to hide who you are because there are more potential allies than potential threats, so there must be something wrong with you specifically if you're trying to. At some point, passing became a dirty word and people who weren't willing to scream out from the mountain tops about their gayness became the "collaborators" and marked as people who were helping the majority oppress/harm them.


I dunno'. I don't think I'm going anywhere specifically with this, I think it's just some thoughts that were rattling around in my head again recently. I am very open about my personal life, even when it comes to topics like my gender identity or my sexuality, but I can easily empathize with people who just can't feel comfortable enough to be like that themselves. I just don't think that it's okay for you to feel so entitled to your point of view that you think it's okay to make enemies of other members of the community who don't feel as comfortable as you do in your identity. I definitely don't think it's okay to feel so fucking entitled to other people's safety, to make people feel like they should be ashamed of themselves if they aren't okay putting their lives on the line to prove your political point.


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i can relate, in a way i think? im nonbinary, so i fall under the trans umbrella. i am not out to anyone irl besides my parents, my boyfriend, his brother, and his mom. anyone else they call me by my deadname and the pronouns i hate (feminine pronouns) bc im too much of a coward to come out to anyone else irl. i dont bind because of medical reasons (i have a bad back) but i do have short hair. i plan to get it cut even shorter though hopefully when i get my haircut in a few weeks.


but yeah. its scary. im also not really out to any of my family besides my parents bc i know no one would understand. my mom or dad dont call me my preferred name or pronouns. my dad is adjusting, he calls me by my preferred name online and in text but never irl. tries to use the right pronouns with me but.. idk. my mom doesnt even try at all. she changed my name in her phone to my preferred name but.. she still calls me by my deadname and wrong pronouns irl. it sucks. i hate it. gives me a lot of gender and body dysphoria.


its hard.

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Guest ~*~Sachita~*~

  I am acutely aware of the kind of risks I'm taking every time I come out to somebody new. I might put up a pretty strong face of calm and disdain in the face of discrimination, but that little nagging thought is always in the back of my mind - is it her? It is him? Is this the person who's going to be the one to attack me? To kill me?


That was powerful.


What is a deadname?

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Guest Swadloon

^ A deadname is the name someone went by (usually, their birth name) prior to coming out as trans and choosing a new name for themselves that better reflects their gender identity. 


It's not polite to up and ask someone what their deadname was.  It's loaded with emotion for many trans folks - for one, coming out is tough and like Clover said in her post, sometimes downright dangerous; for two, out trans folks want to be seen for who they are post coming-out / transitioning, and their deadname isn't reflective of who they really are in the least, and for three, sharing a deadname with someone who turns out to be untrustworthy can lead to it being used as a weapon for deliberate, passive-aggressive misgendering, which is incredibly hurtful.

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@ Littleblueskyee


Hang in there!  I know how much it sucks when your own family can't address you properly.  Shortly after I came out and announced my preferred name as Clover, my mother called me while I was in the middle of work to ask me why I hadn't considered using the feminized version of my dead name instead, and then continued on to ask me if I would get angry if she kept calling me my old nickname "as long as you understand I'm using the feminine version."


Like, fucking seriously?  Get out of here with that.  -_-


@ Sachita


Thank you!


Brightmoon nailed it.  It's pretty much a safe bet to stay away from people's dead names - most of us find them incredibly problematic for a variety of reasons, and it's never cool to assume that someone doesn't care.  Being referred to by a dead name or by the wrong pronouns can cause a steep spiral into anxiety and depression for a lot of people who fall on the trans/non-binary spectrum.

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