Christin Milloy:

Rise up and seize equality

The Top 19 Questions People Always Ask a Trans* Person

There are other Trans* FAQs out there, but none of them really address the true interests of the general public—at least based on these questions which I get asked on a semi-regular basis.

So, as a public service, I do hereby present this list which fairly captures the essence of the many uncomfortable conversations I have suffered through with journalists, talk-show hosts, friends, acquaintances, co-workers, and yes, complete strangers.

Take heed! And please, feel free to share this resource all up and down the Internet so that it might confer upon people the knowledge they so desperately seek about Trans* people… and perhaps rescue some of us from the painfully awkward service of being reduced to mere objects of novel curiosity!

What is “Cis?” Why do Trans* people say that I’m a “Cis” person?

Cis is an abbreviation which means “cisgender” or “cissexual.” In simple terms, it means “not Trans*.” The word itself dates at least as far back as 1914, and was invented by a cis man. It’s pronounced like “sis” as in “sister.”

Why does there need to be a specific word for this? Well, in the absence of knowing (or accepting) a word like “cis,” cis people have a tendency to refer to themselves, in contrast with Trans* people, using words like “normal,” “natural,” “genetic,” or “biological.”

But you see, Trans* people are also normal, natural, genetic, and biological. So to have those words used in a context which sets them at odds with being Trans* is highly stigmatizing and not really very nice at all. “Cis” being the word for “not trans” works in the same way that “straight” is a word meaning “not gay” (although that is an oversimplified example, because there are many types of sexual orientation besides straight and gay).

You may rest assured that being referred to as cis does not (in and of itself) constitute being insulted, and you’re not being accused of anything which you would deny the definition of… there just happens to be a word for not being us; a word which doesn’t stigmatize, objectify, or degrade what it means to be us.

I have met cis people who were frustrated, even offended, that this term has been applied to them.  Some of the same people also tend to falsely claim the word is a recent creation, and wrongly ascribe its invention to Trans* people. Some go as far as to deny that cis privilege exists when clearly it does. Really.

Have you had the sex-change operation?

Curious looking man.That’s a very personal question; maybe you didn’t realize just how invasive it is to ask about this. I would suggest that it would be best that you refrain from asking this to future Trans* people you meet… As a Trans* person, I will decide when to tell you about these private medical experiences if I feel it becomes necessary or appropriate to share it with you.

What is your real name?

It’s the name I already told you.

No I mean the name you were born with.

Ah. You’re asking about my Birth Name. This is another item of private information which can be a very touchy subject for some people, so it’s really best if you restrain your curiosity about it. Your Trans* friend will bring it up on their own if they feel it is something they want to share.

Well what’s your legal name then?

It’s either the name I already gave you, or it’s a potentially touchy subject (as explained above).

What is your preferred pronoun?

Ah! Well done, thank you for asking this. In my case, it is usually “she/her/her,” although I don’t mind being called by various non-gendered pronouns you may have heard of, such as “they/them/their” and “ze/zem/hir.” My personal favorite non-gendered pronoun is “ey/em/eir.”

Other Trans* people might give a different answer than me though, so don’t be shy about asking them!

Remember, it is very important after asking this that you then follow by respecting what they tell you by actually using their preferred pronoun properly. If you make a mistake, just correct yourself (or be graceful if someone else does) and apologize for the slip.

I have another friend who’s Trans*. He’s a girl now, but his name used to be—

I’m going to have to stop you right there.

It’s good that you stayed friends with your friend while they went through their transition, and it’s true that, as a result, you do know some personal details about their previous identity. But you see, your friend hasn’t given consent for you to be sharing that information around, and I really don’t need to know what their old name was. You should keep that information secret.

You might also want to double check with your friend about their preferred pronouns…

So you have a “Gender Identity?”

Yes, and so do you: you got yours at birth when the doctor declared what ey decided you were, and you’ve been comfortable with it ever since. The only difference is that I had to change mine, because it turned out my birth doctor didn’t know me as well as he thought he did.

Come to think of it, a lot of guys seem to think that accessing genitals is the epitome of knowing someone, but I digress.

Why do feminists hate Trans* women?

They don’t. At least, not all of them do. In fact, it is only a small fringe group of cis-only TERFs (Trans*-Exclusionary Radical Feminists) who hate on Trans* women, while bizarrely failing to realize that by hating Trans* women, they are in fact hating women. In my opinion, TERFs are only feminists in the same way that Westboro Baptist Church (whose website is is technically still a church.

I want to note here that not all Radical Feminists are TERFs. Also, critically important to note, real feminists reject the TERF ideology.

The basic idea behind TERF is that because I was born with a penis and falsely assigned a male gender identity without my consent, and therefore grew up with male privilege, that I am therefore still a man and somehow retain male privilege and am therefore not really a woman. Which is ironically a dick argument.

I don’t deny that I benefited from male privilege before I transitioned. That’s part of my life experience and I own it and acknowledge it.

I stopped benefiting from that privilege when I transitioned; now I deal with the same general misogyny as cis women do, as well as transphobic oppression to boot. I think it must be a very nice world these TERFs get to live in where they have the privilege to erase my identity and ignore the type of oppression that I and other Trans* people experience daily (which these jerks contribute to).

Are you on HRT? What hormones and medications do you take?

Is there a particular reason you feel you need to know this about the person you are asking? Is it going to change the way you think or feel about them? Because it shouldn’t.

If you’re curious about the effects of HRT in general, look it up online. If you’re curious about the medical regimen of a particular Trans* person you know, consider carefully whether it’s really any of your business before you ask about it.

Do you have tits? / Do you still have tits?

Blocked and reported.

Do your sexual organs work properly? Like, for sex and stuff.

Whenever I am asked a question like this, I begin to suspect that the person asking may be a little overly focussed on the physiological aspects of the Trans* experience. In response, I would make a couple of points…

1. Most Trans* people would agree with the statement that our Trans* experience is very profoundly about who we are, how we feel, and how we identify. For many of us, it is comparatively much less so about the actual physical changes our bodies undergo (and for some Trans* people, physical change is not important at all). When people, and the media, focus so obsessively on our bodies, it is objectifying and it erases all of the other much more important aspects of our experience. Please be aware of this.

2. I would like you to imagine that you are having a conversation with someone who is not Trans*… Another cis person, like yourself. If they asked you questions about your sex organs in a casual conversation, would that strike you as weird, a little bit rude, and inappropriate? Okay. It strikes us as kind of rude too, actually. We are a lot like normal, regular cis people when it comes to expecting and deserving some common respect. Just something to keep in mind.

Do you have sex? Who do you have sex with? What kind of sex do you have?

Trans* people have a normal range of sexual experience, and a wide variety of interests and interest levels. It is also important to understand that Trans* is not a sexual orientation. Just like cis people, Trans* people come in a variety of sexual orientations (including asexual).

Some people do fetishize Trans* people specifically for our bodies or experiences, in a way that is intensely disrespectful and often disregards our core gender identities. The nature of their fetishized attraction, and their behaviour, says much more about them than it does about us. We call those people “chasers” (which is derogatory; it’s short for “tranny chasers”). They are the reason why there is so much objectifying pornography out there exploiting Trans* people. They and their communities and their porn also spread harmful and inaccurate stereotypes about us.

Dating can be pretty dicey, not only because Trans* people are far more likely to suffer violence, but also because our dating pool is significantly reduced by all of the people who won’t give us the time of day because they think we’re gross… or who want our bodies, but don’t care for us or respect us as people. Loneliness aside though, we are just as likely to be leading (or not leading) a normal and satisfying sex life as any other person.

So they, like, cut up the penis and turn it inside out and stuff!?

Yeah, again, as a Trans* person, I don’t necessarily want to discuss this topic… so if I don’t bring it up on my own, perhaps you should go ahead and Google it for yourself if it happens to be something you find interesting for some reason.

Is “Tranny” a bad word?

Yes, it is a slur, and considered highly offensive. Please say “Trans* Person” (the asterisk is silent) unless the person you are describing has given you some more specific words to use when describing their identity.

But they use the word Tranny in porn titles…

Yes, they do, don’t they. I’ve also seen porn titles use the word “bitch,” “fag,” and the “N” word… The moral of the story is that porn is not a very good source for learning appropriately respectful vocabulary (or for learning good sexual technique, just FYI).

Did you know car mechanics use the word Tranny as a nickname for a car’s transmission?

Yeah, that’s got nothing to do with me or with Trans* people (so far as I know), but still, I kind of wish they’d stop doing that because even though it’s just an unfortunate linguistic coincidence, it can be very unintentionally upsetting to hear it.

(Bonus Question) Hey so what’s with the asterisk in Trans*?

Oh, I’m doing a whole article on that one. Stay tuned.

So… You have a self identity, just like everyone does, except yours doesn’t fit within the world view of “penis = male” and “vagina = female?”

Yep! Sounds like you’ve got it. The only thing I would add is a reminder that some people are non-binary (so, neither “M” nor “F” fit their identity).

I don’t believe you; God doesn’t make mistakes.

Well, perhaps God made us this way on purpose in order to teach you about acceptance

After all, wouldn’t the world be a better place if we all loved our neighbours, judged not, and did unto others as we would have them do unto us? I think I read that in a book somewhere.

This article also appeared in Slate Magazine’s “Outward” Blog.


  1. Christina
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 07:19

    Love this! Also love your LCARS theme!

  2. Isabelle Britten
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 07:50

    Concerning the questions about Genitals, you could just return the query by asking: “Why are you interested?”
    And to answer the second part if it’s a guy I tend to reply: “But I’m not into men.” Whereas if it’s a female it all depends!

  3. Christine
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 08:33

    Lots of good info and very well written! Unfortunately, these questions are very natural for ANY people that are curious. It’s uncomfortable (on both sides, really), but isn’t knowledge and acceptance the bottom line? If one of my friends wanted to have an in-depth conversation on my genitals, I’d probably oblige if it meant that I could educate them, and afterwards there would be no need for such questions.

    • Will
      Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 11:04

      Friends are ok, it’s when strangers start asking questions like this that it can be uncomfortable

  4. Sue McConnell
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 08:57

    Thank you Christin, These are great questions ans answers. I would like to print a few copies of your article to hand out to people who start the “Question Game”.


  5. Joseph
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 10:10

    To what degree does the need to transition come from the need to be comfortable with oneself as opposed to the desire to be accepted by other people and conform to the gender expectations of society? What does a transgender person really need in order to be happy?

    • Murphy
      Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 12:21

      Depends on the trans person.

      We all find a balance between our desire to be happy with ourselves and the desire to live peacefully in society. Since humans are very much social creatures and most of us desire to live in this society the ideas of personal happiness and social happiness can’t be mutually exclusive. The society we live in is too ingrained in our personal development.

    • Dawna
      Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 14:27

      A transperson just wants to be acknowledged as someone who has experiences (and knowledge) about a human condition that many people don’t. We just want a simple life, doing exactly what others have a right to do; have a job, a place to live, relationships, and privacy. We also appreciate a little respect for doing the best we could do with a complex medical issue, that some medical practitioners are sadly ignorant about.

    • Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 18:57

      would you have a car that only ran in reverse
      the ‘total’ package is needed

      • Christin Scarlett Milloy
        Thursday, 2014.02.27 at 10:47


        You could stop thinking about the women you have sex with as nothing but material objects (like cars) to be driven / owned / used / ridden for your own gratification.

        It sounds like you’re the one who isn’t the “full package…” when they ordered you, they must not have wanted to pay extra for the “respect” upgrade.


        • Sunday, 2014.03.02 at 12:58

          Anger does not become you, and anger does very little, if anything, to futher education.
          A reply – to a reply made that is made in anger [thinking that the person who initiates, is ignorant of anything you may have to offer] but I thank you
          JameeRay, CD

          • Jenn
            Monday, 2014.03.03 at 01:16

            Dismissing someone’s anger is a pretty common form of oppression. And it’s a very defensive way of rejecting any self-examination.

  6. Steph Holmes
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 10:21

    When people ask (once, three years ago) about my birth name I simply say that the name on my birth certificate (which says I was born female) is the same as it is now.
    When anyone asks about my genitals, I simply ask “Have you had your genital warts removed yet? Then why are you asking about my PRIVATE parts?”
    As for the asterisk: I dislike it intensely. It represents all flavours of trans, despite the fact that they are totally different from each other. Originally, transsexual was the only term. In 1969 the term ‘transgender’ was invented because it was felt ‘gender’ better described us than ‘sexual’. By the mid 70s transgender had become a catch-all term to lump transsexuals and transvestites together. This was made official in 1992, when the International Conference on Transgender Law and Employment Policy defined transgender as ‘an expansive umbrella term’. Trans* acts as a purely non-verbal umbrella as well. I’m a transsexual, not an umbrella.

    • Marc
      Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 22:39

      Well I’m not. I’m not transexual and I’m not a transvestite, and i’m not “confused” or “early on my path”. I’m transgender – non-binary, fluid, whatever, and I’m HAPPY being both male and female. Born male and i present feminine 24/7, and am glad for the transgender umbrella because tg’s like myself have a hard time making our voices heard with TS hands covering our mouths and telling us to blend in and be a lady. Gender identity and expression are a spectrum, not cis vs trans male/female. If the trans community can’t embrace our own diversity how can we expect the general public to? Sorry to vent, but your comment touched a nerve.

      • Steph Holmes
        Thursday, 2014.02.27 at 08:34

        I’m not quite sure who you’re ‘venting’ at nor what your point is.
        I’m a transsexual. I object to being labelled with the term transgender, because it encompasses things I am not. The same for the non-verbal asterisk.
        You can call yourself anything you want: transgender, non-binary, post-impressionist grand piano – I don’t care.
        I thought my use of the personal pronoun in the comment was abundantly clear. It seems it wasn’t clear to you. Let me help you: when I say ‘I’ it refers to me, and not to anybody else.
        If you want to engage me in a debate about the etymology and semantics of the term ‘transgender’ that’s fine. Just ‘ranting’ gets you rebuffed.

        • g
          Friday, 2016.01.15 at 14:10

          All these crazy titles drive me crazy. Just be who you are and enjoy life. You don’t have to conform to any standard of expectance for anyone.
          I’m a straight male and have absolutely no interest in a cock nor do I look at guy and think he is hot (gross) but I do however lust after a lady dressed nice with heels, stockings, and a great butt gets me excited, really excited.
          I don’t want to get into bed ASAP, I want to know about you. Tell me who you are, your interest, do you like boating and fishing? BBQ on a pontoon boat overnight. Then if we click I hope the Anker will hold.
          Well that’s just me, if you are pretty, like stockings and heels and have booty you’re in for one Hell of a ride with breakfast and some fun days.

      • Tuesday, 2014.03.04 at 15:57

        I kinda like your comment, Marc

  7. Erin Renae
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 11:45

    on the cis and trans terms, they’re actually from biochemistry. great article, tho. i love the last part…
    “perhaps God made us this way on purpose in order to teach you about acceptance…”
    thanks Christin!

    • Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 17:04

      “Cis” and “trans” exist in biochemistry, yes. As in isomers. But “cis” and trans” as regards sexual orientation and gender identity did not originate from biochemistry. As noted in the article, they have a history of being used as social identifiers. You’re both right. Please don’t tell someone they’re wrong when you are ignoring the actual context of their knowledge.

      • Christin Scarlett Milloy
        Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 18:11

        I think Scientists are really really cool.


  8. anewcatsworld
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 12:13

    My usual response to “What was your name?” is “Let me see your court order first.” Seems to work just fine.

  9. Accalia
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 14:04

    I love it! The only thing I would correct is that you didn’t, in fact, change your gender identity. That is something you’re born with. What I felt you should have said is that you needed to change your body to match your identity. Because identity doesn’t change.

    I hope you see this as constructive criticism, not an attack. 🙂 just worried that ignorant people will use that to say “omg so it IS a choice!?” and then get all butthurt and stuff like that. Yep!

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 14:27

      Hi Accalia,

      In fact, I did change my gender identity – I was completely identifying myself as a boy (and later, young man), and firmly believing it was true, before I figured out why it was that I was so unhappy all the time.

      The human experience, for everyone, is a constant process of finding and redefining one’s own identity. Working out who we are. The sad fact is that based on the best knowledge and evidence available to me for a very long time, I believed myself to be male, and I identified that way. That’s an important part of my life experience which I will not erase.

      I do hope that through education and activism, we can create a cultural awareness of these issues and destigmatize Trans* experiences… in a kinder world, I would probably have found myself much earlier in my life.

      • Breanna Anderson
        Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 18:24

        I heartily agree. We are entering a new phase of attempting to define our own #realness on our own terms. Though some will define that for themselves they were “never a boy” or man, that undoubtedly is true for them. Our real truth is defined individually and Owning and loving our own personal path and arc is so powerful. Most Trans and gender non conforming people I know have a definite arc of evolving self definition and awareness and the most self honest do not deny it. Bravo.

  10. Anna
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 14:52

    I believe if you be yourself and engage in a positive way with folk then all this is bumpf! If I was a non-trans person reading this I’d be petrified at the prospect of having a conversation with a trans person. Sure some folk may ask silly questions or make an error with pro-nouns, but lighten up, I’d rather have a natural conversation with someone whereby I can educate or enlighten them than have a stipulated approach as this.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 17:49

      Sounds like you have a very patient approach. I envy you! 🙂


      • Renee
        Wednesday, 2015.01.14 at 12:15


        I read your post and comments and believe you to be more patient than you think. I admire you and thank you for the enlightenment.

  11. Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 15:13

    God not only makes mistakes, but unlike most manufacturers, he doesn’t offer any kind of warranty.
    I wonder if we were all made in China then shipped out.

  12. Merle
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 16:00

    Thanks for clarifying the “cis” terminology. I had looked it up (not deeply, mind you) and hadn’t found any historical info so always felt it was being used as a slap rather than just an identifier.

  13. John Gray
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 17:57

    “What’s you real name ? ” Only non-objectionable and not nosy if you happen to be a performer. Otherwise I’d say the answers you set forth cover it.

  14. Breanna Anderson
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 18:18

    In practical reality, it’s a stretch to say that “cisgender” as we use it today goes back 100 years. It’s being a neologism does not detract from it’s legitimacy and usefulness in framing conversation around gender.

    While Cristan Williams has dug up a fascinating bit of historic use of the “cis” prefix in “Cisvestite” ( para “Transvestite” ). The whole conceptualization of gender non-conformance being essentially about dress and presentation is very out of date and another piece of valuable history.

    To have one’s identity, even if unconscious, labeled and assigned by those outside your group is kind of shocking isn’t it? Being othered, even as the majority, puts some folks on guard and opens up a teaching opportunity. It is true that some Trans folk have become embittered by their experiences and blame all cis people as a group and that is misguided and counter productive. They may add a little hissing sting when they say “cis”… Understand where it comes from even then.

  15. Octavia
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 21:23

    “God doesn’t nmake mistakes”

    So, people born with hare lips shouldn’t get surgery?

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Thursday, 2014.02.27 at 08:08

      I never said people shouldn’t make their own surgical decisions.


  16. Maralita Dela Cruz
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 21:53

    I respect Transbitches (cause you is a bitch trying to lecture us). I think it is not right to inflict this ground rules unless it is approved by the “someone” or “something”, everyone needs to know whether you are a gaybitch, straightbitch or trannybitch, and I don’t give a rats ass whether you get offended or not if I did tell my friends you is a transbitch nor if I ask if you is still have a d*ck or a p*ssy bitch gotta learn you is born male or female and you just woke up one day decided you wanna cut those genitals off, besides if you is real women until the day you can be pregnant then that bitch I’ll stop asking.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Thursday, 2014.02.27 at 13:35

      Fascinating insight, Maralita. Thank you for joining the discussion.

      I wonder, what is your take on “straightbitches” who lack reproductive capability (e.g. due to illness, injury, or disability)?


  17. Cassandra
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 22:35

    What is with the asterisk? I see that sometimes and always look to the bottom of the page to see what the comment about it is… but there’s nothing. It’s like I’m supposed to know what it means, but I don’t.

  18. Ren
    Wednesday, 2014.02.26 at 22:58

    Thank you for this piece. I have believed myself to be accepting and tolerant but actually was quite ignorant when it came to transgender people. I saw an interview recently on Piers Morgan with Janet Mock, who illicited some controversy when she took issue with some of his questions. I followed the story and found another interview with Katie Couric and Laverne Cox. Both of these women were highly articulate and patient with these clumsy journalists who seemed to try to sensationalize the physicality of their identity instead of using the platform to educate the general public about the hate and abuse that is endured by the transgender community. I have shared this piece with friends and family for various reasons. It demands decency, compassion and understanding. It forces the reader to examine themselves and while it is a strongly written piece, I find it enormously compelling. Thank you for writing it. Sorry for the long post.

  19. joe
    Thursday, 2014.02.27 at 11:52

    there’s no such thing as a ‘preferred pronoun!’ cis people don’t have preferred pronouns, they have pronouns. the same goes for us transfolk. we have pronouns. use them!

  20. Thursday, 2014.02.27 at 19:05

    I have been involved in the transgendered world for seven years now, as a straight male with some would say an androgynous mind. I must say all the labels that fly around are hard for the TG/TS community to keep straight, let alone the cis community. Everyday I am learning about boundaries and lines not to be crossed with regard to labels. I would be considered to be a part time CD (crossdresser) who has strong sentiments about educating and defending the LGBTQ world. With regard to the difference between transgender vs transsexual …I simply explain that gender is in the mind, sex is in between the legs. So when someone ask me if I am a tranny….and yes that word is highly offensive to me…I ask do you mean transgender or transsexual? Because although I AM transgender, I am NOT transsexual. I do have to agree with the term transgender being an umbrella term. Why? Because reality is transsexuals did at one time HAVE to breach that gender change gap. Now with regards to pronouns, Joe your right, you present as a she, youre a she, you present as a he, youre a he. pretty simple.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Friday, 2014.02.28 at 02:08

      What about non-binary?


  21. Hisdroogness
    Friday, 2014.02.28 at 01:56

    Asking a Trans* person about their “birth/ legal” name.(if you know them not like 5 min into meeting them that is just rude) It’s no more of a curiousity than wanting to know John Wayne’s name, Axl Rose or Papa Emeritus II. I do not believe people have any alterior motive other than curiousity. But thats just my thoughts and as a non trans* I have no viable standpoint on why it is a sticking point.

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Friday, 2014.02.28 at 02:07

      Some won’t mind sharing it, but it’s problematic in some cases because it would enable one to track down or uncover additional information or sensitive material like old photos that individuals might not want to be disclosed.

      Also some Trans* people have made the personal choice to live in stealth to all but a few they trust, but a name leak can destroy this.

      Finally, for some, having been forced to live under their former uncomfortable gender identity for so long, and after the sometimes painful process of transition, the old name can be an upsetting trigger word that brings back bad memories or feelings.

      Given that it is *possibly* a bad topic, it’s best not to ask. Let your friend offer it up to discussion… or not. For example, tonight I asked a friend of mine how she chose her new name (this, btw, is a much safer question). In the process, she revealed to me her original name, because she was comfortable enough to do this. But it would have been wrong for me to ask her old name specifically.


  22. Sterling Archer
    Friday, 2014.02.28 at 03:16

    Nice post. As you pointed out, trans is not a sexual orientation. I’ve thought for a long time that LGBT (as opposed to just LGB) implies to many people that trans is a kink. Trans porn obviously reinforces this.

    I think of trans as more of a medical situation than a sexual one, similar to intersex individuals. It’s well established that genitals are not the only scientific way to identify gender (chromosomes, hormones, psychological, etc.) Surprisingly, the medical point-of-view has lead to religious acceptance and legal status for trans people in Iran. They are treated far better than Iranian LGB (who are sometimes pressured into reassignment surgery, but that’s a different issue). I understand why trans and LGB have allied in many places, but I wonder if it is the best strategic decision for trans acceptance.

  23. Andy
    Friday, 2014.02.28 at 05:36

    Great article thank you! But im kind of also wishing that no one should have to have a need for a self identity at all, do you sometime wish for that? like what is a “self identity” even and why is it so important?

    • Saturday, 2014.03.08 at 06:13

      I think the need for an identity will stay, there is always a need to understand yourself and to describe yourself to others.
      Also there are quite a few transfolk who identify decidedly binary gender-wise, meaning that trans women really identify as women and trans men really as men and that identity is really important to them – even independent of societaly implications.
      On the other hand, if gender would play less of a role in daily social interactions, that would make life a lot easier for most trans people.

  24. cindy
    Saturday, 2014.03.01 at 23:14

    I’m cis and i used to be so overweight and unhappy. If i told someone i lost 100 pounds and they said oh man can i see on an old pic of you at your fatest and unhappiest. A good point for cis folks trolling for indentity info, why do you want to know details of when I was unhappy?

  25. Dano
    Sunday, 2014.03.02 at 16:57

    >the world view of “penis = male” and “vagina = female?”

    Shouldn’t this be Man and Woman, in gender vocabulary rather than the biological sex categorisation? Because while you can be a woman with a penis, biologically you cannot be a female with a penis

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Monday, 2014.03.03 at 16:30

      Disagree. The terms “male” and “female” are more than descriptions of genetic configuration.

  26. Claudia
    Monday, 2014.04.07 at 04:15

    I always assumed that the “trans” and “cis” prefixes were simply borrowed from Julius Caesar’s “The Conquest of Gaul”, wherein he makes reference to “Trans-Alpine” (across the Alps) and “Cis-Alpine” (on this side of the Alps) Gaul.

  27. Mallory
    Thursday, 2014.05.01 at 03:45

    I know it’s been a while since the original post, but if anyone would like to help me with a current situation I would greatly appreciate it!
    Firstly, thank you so much Christin for this post! It is extremely helpful.
    So, I work at a clothing store and we have a regular customer that is trans* and I am trying to be delicate as I communicate with her. We ask our customers for some personal information such as their name and phone number and in our system her name is Chad. Because of this, I have been calling her Chad, and she doesn’t seem to mind, but I was wondering if it would be appropriate to ask her if there is another name she would prefer to be called. Do you think that is an okay thing to ask?
    And then I would also really like to tell her that I think she is beautiful and brave, but I worry it is better to just ignore her differences altogether.
    Sorry for the long post, but thank you so much for your help!

    • Christin Scarlett Milloy
      Friday, 2014.05.09 at 22:28

      Hi Mallory,

      Thanks for commenting. I think you definitely have the right idea. Next time she comes in, I think it would be perfectly okay for you to say “Would you like to update your name or address in the store’s computer system?” That gives her the perfect opportunity to change it if she wants to, or to leave it be if it’s not something that’s important to her, without it seeming like it was directly related to her Trans*ness. The key is to avoid treating Trans* people any differently. It would not do, for example, to compliment your only customer of a particular racial group by congratulating them on their minority status, even if your intentions are good. She may not wish to be reminded that people know she is a Trans* woman shopping in a women’s clothing store…

      Not knowing anything about this woman’s situation in particular, the best advice I can give is to err on the side of safety and not specifically draw attention to her status as a Trans* person, even if your intention is to make her feel positive with a compliment. From her perspective, it might sting to be reminded that someone knows she’s Trans* when she may not necessarily be trying to express Trans*ness, or feel comfortable or safe with other people talking about it.

      However, since you work at a clothing store, it would certainly be appropriate to help her choose garments and to (truthfully, of course) let her know what works and what doesn’t… and if a particular outfit is beautiful on her, tell her. After all, chances are she did not grow up with the opportunity to gradually learn and absorb, from women in her family and from her female peers, all of that intangible knowledge that girls usually pick up about fashion and how to gauge societally appropriate expression in clothing.

      For many Trans* women (certainly for me), building a wardrobe and learning how to wear it properly was a crash course in not wanting to look ridiculous, but really knowing nothing. Cautious but enthusiastic, I was grateful for all the help I got from the women in my life.

      This woman keeps coming back to your store, so I expect she already knows you are on “her side.” You’ve obviously treated her well enough that she chooses to return, so chances are she’s satisfied and feels safe there. That in itself is something you should be proud of, and by continuing to treat her with equal respect, you are already rewarding her bravery with acceptance and support.

  28. D-man
    Thursday, 2014.06.26 at 23:42

    I appreciate this, because when I do meet a trans* person, I like to meet him or her as a person. Forums like this will make it easier just to focus on the individual.

    Being CIS gay is a different (and less difficult) experience. I don’t think there will be a real LGBTQA community until we all truly understand our different experience. So thank you again.

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