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May 27, 2013 | by  | in Opinion |
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Bent

Not to brag, but I went to a party a while ago. There were some people I’d never met at this party. I introduced myself to one of them. “Hi,” I said. “I’m Sebastian.”

They looked at me for a moment. “You’re [birth name].”

“Uh. Nope. My name is Sebastian.”

“But… it’s really [birth name], right?”

This continued for much longer than it should have (probably because it shouldn’t have happened at all). I became increasingly confused, agitated, hungry, sleepy, and confused. There were multiple levels of weirdness at play here: firstly, I had never met this person. Why did they know my birth name? Secondly, why were they so sure of my identity that they corrected me multiple times? Well, it turns out they had seen my Facebook profile before I changed my name, and remembered me. Which is also very confusing. In any case: I don’t know about you, but I generally take people at their word when they tell me who they are. Admittedly, the person was faaairly drunk. But my point is this: y’all need to sort your trans* etiquette out. And just generally be more polite, even if you are drunk. Don’t worry, though. I’ve got you covered. Here are four simple tips for being a better person and making life easier for trans* cuties everywhere.

Don’t assume anything. You can’t tell how a person identifies by how they look. No, seriously. Let that sink in. For instance, you may read me as a butch lesbian, or you might read me as a particularly plump teenage boy. Either way, you’re wrong. It’s true that how people present themselves is usually deliberate, but don’t extrapolate a concrete idea of someone’s identity from their cute dress or plaid shirt or whatever. That shit is nuanced.

If you really need to know, ask. But…

You probably don’t need to know. Ultimately, someone else’s identity isn’t actually any of your business. Wacky, right?! If you have a reason to know, I’m sure they’ll let you know. In my case, I am fairly open about my trans* identity both as a form of activism and so that people understand how to treat me.

Google is your friend. As a trans* person, constantly having to teach TRAN101 is exhausting, unnecessary, and, frankly, annoying as all get out. Learn the basics so your trans* friends don’t have to teach you.

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