Author’s note: This article is adapted from my book, Network Beyond Bias.
7 Questions Not to Ask Trans People…And What to Ask Instead
Many people are unsure how to respond when someone comes out as transgender. Here are some questions to avoid, and some better alternatives.
- (1) If you’re not male or female, then what are you? Just as some people are more feminine or more masculine or neither or both, and just as some people are taller or shorter or somewhere in between, many people experience their gender along a continuum.
Try instead, “What are your pronouns?”
- (2) How do you know? / (3) Are you sure? / (4) What if you’re wrong? Any time a person is facing a tremendous amount of resistance to be themselves, assume that they know what they’re talking about. They’ve done more research, had more conversations, and spent more sleepless nights trying to work this out than you can imagine.
Try instead, “How can I support you?”
- (5) What’s your real name? / (6) What did you look like before? / Any questions about biology, physiology, or emotional trauma.
Try instead, “It’s a pleasure meeting you.”
- (7) Have you had the surgery? There’s not just one surgery, and surgical procedures are only a fraction of what’s involved in a medical transition. Most important, though, is that what’s going on under another person’s undergarments is almost never any of your business.
Try instead, literally anything else.