This is my pet peeve of the moment right now. It’s so annoying, and it makes learning about the world around you a real challenge to navigate. You don’t want to offend people and you’re not trying to, you’re just curious about them and want to know. Yet at any moment you could stumble in this foggy social mind-field and severely damage your chances of friendship or understanding with whoever.
I notice this most amongst trans people. As a blogger I tend to read and get involved with communities everywhere. It’s how I form a lot of my posts and helps me decide where to direct myself in future blog posts. Quite simply without delving into internet societies and finding out what’s important to potential readers of my blog; I would never have any idea what to post. One of the things people talk most about in the communities I’m part of, is trans people.
Understandably so too, their visibility and awareness is at an all time high, with representation for trans people in media also being sky high. This means for the first time in the history of the world, we’re starting to really know trans people. It’s totally not uncommon these days for the six degrees of separation to lead to a trans person. This is amazing, but there’s still a lot of things people don’t know about trans people. There have been decades of misrepresentation and outright lies and propaganda against trans people; and well anyone who strays too far from the norm. So a lot of the things they think they know about trans people tend to be way misinformed.
People are somewhat aware of this, and so they realise they don’t know a lot. They will ask questions, and try to really understand trans people around them. More often than not trans people will get offended and upset about this. Some even respond emotionally, angry or lashing out back at the person. This doesn’t help anything at all. First and foremost what you should consider is that if someone is asking you a question, they’re clearly not trying to attack you. They just want to know something, they just want to understand you better. I know, you might be asked those questions a million times a week, or that the question might be framed in a rude way; but so what? That’s a million new people you get to help understand what being trans is like for you. You get to be instrumental in helping other people understand, why get angry about that?
Getting offended when people ask you questions is the worst possible out come. It forces people to keep their misinformation, and spice it up with a little bit of anger from you. They’re further away from understanding and accepting you than they ever were. You can’t force people to accept and understand you by being angry at them. You have to explain why they should, and this often involves answering questions that make you feel uncomfortable. If you don’t, you’re not being a solution to the problem at all.
Maybe its the Brit in me, but if I’m ever confronted with something that makes me uncomfortable or could be potentially offensive; I just keep calm and carry on.