I’d love for you to take a second to rehearse your reaction in your head when someone, friends or stranger, tells you they’re transgender.
Otherwise, your reaction may – very likely will – betray your values.
I mostly stay away from talking about how I identify myself because I don’t want my story to be twisted and used in support of the “it’s a phase” argument. So I’ll leave that out of this post as well.
I did mention my childhood struggles to a few people – friends and strangers – who were supposed to be particularly well-informed.
They immediately disengaged. Sure, they didn’t change the subject. But their firmly averted gaze and their suddenly generic, slightly choked “uh huh” were so obvious and alienating.
I get to walk away from these responses because I don’t need these people for me to live thruthfully. But what if I were a teen in desperate need of support and/or treatment?
Yes, there are valid, understandable explanations for the reaction. You might feel it’s unfair that your unplanned reaction is “taken the wrong way.” But that doesn’t matter, does it. You know that saying “What you said doesn’t matter. What they heard does.” The reaction did just come across as **rejecting / disengaging**.
The only way to do yourself and your values justice is to expect it and prepare how you’d respond.
Here are a couple of lists that are recommended by transgender-support sites (which may not be helpful for formulating your “reaction”):
Though, on that “reaction,” let us recognize the difference between someone making a statement and someone sharing / opening a conversation.
“Would you like to bring your boyfriend?” “Oh yes, I’d love to bring my girlfriend.” = NOT an opportunity to ask me how old I was when I realized I am gay and/or to ask me what my opinions are on recent gay issues.
Someone mentioning “my stepmother” does not open a door to asking that person about what it’s like to grow up with divorced parents.
The topic of transgender is no different. Someone says “Please use ‘he’ to address me,” and our answer should just be “Ok!”
Her situation was much different than what I discuss in this status, but this is how I decided to honour #LeelahAlcorn