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Things Not To Say To A Transman On A Date (or ever)
Today I thought I would share with you this:
(I will add for all the people screaming “This article is transphobic!” the article was written by a transperson using data collected from other transpeople)
Things Not To Say To A Transman On A Date (or, preferably, ever):
1. “So what was your real name?” Next time I’ll tell ‘em it was Richard, OK? Don’t follow this up with a list of transpeople that you know and all their former names, either.
2. “So you’re still like a girl in bed, right?” No. It’s amazing how little anatomy determines one’s sexual behavior.
3. “Why do you have to change your body so radically in order to have people treat you like you want?” If you’re asking this question, your world view is obviously not ready for a transman to play a major role in your life. Suffice it to say that until you understand, at least vaguely, the concept of body dysphoria that has little or nothing to do with culture, it’s better not to bother. Your politics will not change him, and it’ll only be frustrating for both of you.
4. “How can you say anything about feminism? You gave up being a woman.” Yes, but you can’t erase 30 years of your personal history and experience. Some transmen consider themselves feminists, and some don’t. I’ve been known to wear a “Feminist On Testosterone” button myself. However, I’ve found that even rabid feminism gets modified slightly by actually living as a man for a time (something I sometimes wish all women could do for a little while, with the reverse true as well, of course) and he may not toe the party line on all things. Even if you discuss these things, even if you argue about them, don’t be tempted to call him a traitor, or tell him that since he gave up being female, he has nothing to say about it. Don’t disqualify the third-gender perspective; a little objectivity is sometimes a good thing. Besides, as I pointed out to one such accuser, I may have decreased the number of strong women by one, but I increased the number of men sensitive to women’s issues (and willing to be role models) by one, and that’s an even smaller category. Nobody’s come up with an answer to that one yet.
5. “If you’re not going to get a dick, why do you want to be a man?” 9 out of 10 transmen do not get phalloplasties. This is partly because the surgery is way, way less than ideal, and they may not want to sacrifice nerve endings that work for a possible disaster. Frankly, were I a genetic factory-equipped male, I would be downright offended by the idea that my dick was the only defining, or important, item with regards to my manhood. We are much more than our genitals. If you can’t deal with a man with a vagina, go elsewhere.
6. “But you’re such an attractive woman!” OR “I’ll bet you were a really attractive woman!” Yes, and I bet I’ll be a really cute guy, too – wanna stick around and watch? OR Actually, I was an ugly, mean bitch. Amazing what a little testosterone will do for ya.
7. “Can I see your pussy?” Can I see your asshole? Here, bend over this chair for me and spread’em! Seriously, there is something about a transsexual that makes ordinary people think that they can ask all sorts of stupid questions about ones’ genitals that they’d never, never dream of asking a non-trans person. Don’t do this. You will be more likely to get a chance to see it if you are polite and friendly and interesting and we think you’re cute.
8. Infantilizing names such as “Babe”, “Sugar”, “Kitten”. Oh, come on, what are you trying to prove?
9. “I knew you were one of those. I could just sense it.” This is most offensive when it comes right after you come out to someone, and they give you The Look of absolute shock, and then have the balls to tell you that they “somehow knew”. Even if by some miracle talent of trannyvision they did know, this is not likely to put the transman of your choice at ease about his passing ability. It will likely raise the tension level rather than lower it.
10. “You’re the best of both worlds.” Be careful with this one. Some transmen do consider themselves something in between male and female, and would be complimented by that. Others consider themselves men, work very hard to be accepted as men, and would take great offense. Best not to say it until you’re certain which variety you’ve got.
11. “Do you like being fucked up the cunt?” This is especially offensive when said to a fully transitioned FTM in a public restaurant, preferably while the waitress is standing right there. A better way to ask would be, “How do you like to fuck?” or “What sex acts get you hot and what turns you off?” Don’t even start to ask until it’s been made very clear that, yes, he does want to do the mattress dance with you.
12. “Are you stone?” Not every FTM came out of the lesbian community and has read his Leslie Feinberg primer. Don’t assume that he used to be a dyke, if you don’t know it’s the case. This term may well make an FTM who hasn’t heard it think that you’re asking him if he is a piece of granite, or he may wonder if you are asking him for marijuana. Even if he does understand it, he may not want to answer it, if an answer would make you think of him in butch lesbian rather than male terms. “Did you hate being a dyke?” or “Do you hate dykes?” is in the same category.
13. “I know this sex change must have been hard for you.” Really? How do you know that? For some people, transition is the best thing that ever happened to them. If we want to bring up our emotions about our TG-ness, we will do so in time. Don’t assume you know how any of it feels. Often, when people say this, one senses that it is them who are having a hard time with our sex change.
14. “You’re so exotic,” or “You’re so fascinating,” or “I’m simply fascinated by you.” Can come across as patronizing. I personally think I’m exotic, but many FTMs see themselves as regular guys with a difficult history. The last one also has a bug-under-a-microscope feel to it.
15. “But you’re so short!” Oh, please. Sit down and you’ll see how much that matters. Calling your transman “Little Guy” or such terms is also unlikely to win points.
16. “Did it hurt?” in reference to surgery. Duh, of course it hurt. Major surgery does, even when they give you lots of morphine. Don’t be dumb. Better things to concentrate on might be, “You’re very brave to go through such hard experiences to be yourself; most people wouldn’t,” or something like that.
17. “Hey, guys don’t do that!” or “That’s not very masculine behavior.” I am amazed how so many people feel that they’re being “helpful” in pointing out how a transman’s behavior varies form the stereotypical male norm. Believe me, your transman has probably spent more time watching and mirroring male behavior than you, even if you’re male yourself. If he chooses not to do a particular masculine behavior, it may be because he considers it personally oppressive, and why should he do it? Some of us, after being shoved into one tiny little box for the first part of our lives, have no wish to climb into a different tiny little box and close the lid. In fact, after years as a woman, some forms of male behavior seem awfully silly. (I’ll never forget watching a self-professed feminist woman lecturing an FTM on how his gestures weren’t masculine enough.) And if your transman is trying hard to act in a traditionally masculine manner and he slipped for a moment, you’ll just embarrass him.
18. Trying to show him how male you think he is by playfully punching him in the shoulder or trying to give him knuckle noogies is not helpful. Any behaviors you might pull on an obnoxious younger brother should be avoided.
19. “When people use jargon, I think they’re not being sincere,” in response to him using words common in the trans community, such as transman, FTM, tranny, transgender, packie, diclit, etc. Let’s face it, the words needed to describe FTM sexuality do not exist in most people’s vocabulary. If you’re going to date him, you need to learn the language. Don’t be afraid to ask, “And what does that mean to you?” but don’t put him down for using terms you don’t know yet.
20. “Hand her the…oops, I’m sorry! No, really, I think of you as a guy, it’s just that it’s hard to remember….” Pronoun mishaps are the single biggest problem in dealing with transfolk. It makes us wince, and we generally consider all slips to be Freudian. Do try your damndest to get it right, even if that means chanting a little mantra under your breath of “Jonathan-he, Jonathan-he, Jonathan-he likes to rollerblade, Jonathan-he likes garlic,” etc. If you do slip, don’t go into a string of profuse apologies. Something simple like, “Damn, I screwed up. I’ll do better next time,” will do, especially in public where there’s no need to call more attention to the slip. If you’re dealing with a pre-transitioned FTM and it’s really hard for you to remember it, avoid pronouns altogether and just go with names, as in, “Hand it to Chris.”
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