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Boi Problems 103: What’s in a Name? Part II

I’ve been noticing more news circulating around the Internet about trans issues lately, mainly addressing the violence we face and I’ve generally been impressed with the execution. One of the better-known stories has been Katie Couric’s interview with Laverne Cox and Carmen Carrera, two very well renowned trans women and activists.

Transgender SymboIn the interview, Couric talked to Laverne Cox about the Netflix series “Orange is the New Black” and how Out Magazine named her one of the100 most influential LGBT people in the world. Cox replied in an extremely humble manner and just when the interview seemed to be getting good, Couric drew the attention of the audience away from Cox and started referring to Carrera’s uncomfortable reaction regarding questions concerning genitalia.

Couric went on saying how she, along with everyone else, wanted to be educated, all the while using words like “transgenders” and being completely nonchalant, and in my opinion, disrespectful of Carrera’s feelings.

All due to the entitlement cis people seem to think they have over our private affairs. Which takes us back to my list of things you just should not say to transgender people.

Do you want a *insert genitalia here*?
That is the rudest thing you could possibly ask a trans person. Cis people for some reason, feel like they can ask these questions like it’s not hurtful. So what if I want a penis? So what if I don’t? How would you feel if you told me you were pregnant and all I kept talking about was your vagina?

It’s the same. You take away the attention on the actual matter at hand. It can also put us in a dangerous and uncomfortable position by asking that in public. Don’t do it.

I can’t call you ‘he’
Or alternatively, “I won’t call you ‘he’ until you’ve had surgery”. The excuse is usually almost always because of the history shared between the people involved, which seems justifiable when in reality it’s not.

You are rejecting someone’s identity because it makes you uncomfortable. Hmm…sound familiar? Coming out is difficult. This is something we can ALL agree on. Have the decency to respect your loved ones. Just food for thought.

Marriage equality is not a trans issue
I was at a birthday party discussing LGBTQ rights when I mentioned that a member from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) had asked a transgender activist to remove their flag from outside of the Supreme Court when DOMA was being decided on. The others didn’t seem to get why this was an issue.

“Well it’s not really a trans right,” someone said.
“Excuse me?” I responded pointedly. “How is marriage equality not a trans right?”
“Well, all they have to do is change their name and sex, and they can marry.”

I had to bite my tongue when she said this, but believe me I wanted to scream. Pushing hetero (or homo) normative views on us and simplifying the fact that changing identities is such a difficult task is wrong and demeaning. Which is why what the HRC official did was wrong.

Bottom line: Marriage equality is most certainly a trans right, but unlike the L and G community, it’s just not one we can focus on because we’re trying to stop our community from being killed off due to bigotry and close-mindedness.

These are all things that cis people have said to me and so many other trans folk and it makes me think. The issue at hand isn’t curiosity. It’s ignorance. You don’t need to be told multiple times that these are wrong or offensive.

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