I Don’t Want to Hear about Your Transphobic Friend

3 mins read

PSA: this is intended with zero snark or malice or ill feeling, but if you’re a lovely cisgender person, I honestly don’t want to spend time at any party hearing about the person in your life who’s transphobic.

On some level, I think there’s a need to discuss that with someone you feel would understand, i.e. me, a trans person. I really do get it. There’s a need to process. Totally valid.

But I get really anxious when folks throw me into these conversations without warning, and there’s a reason for that.

I get stared at everywhere I go. A lot. Even in progressive spaces, even in progressive towns and cities. And I have to remind myself–literally on a daily basis–that most people who do this are just curious. It’s not meant to make me uncomfortable. (Most of the time.)

You telling me about your friend/relative/colleague/whomever that’s now two degrees away from me and very anti-transgender thoroughly shatters that protective mental barrier I’ve built up.

Professionally, I have to engage on these things in terms of news stories, and it’s awful, but at least I get a modicum of distance. Everyone can recognize that awful GOP senator or commentator or whomever that’s viciously hateful. They wear a mark. It’s easy to identify them and stay away. I know what to expect. I don’t have to invest trust with that person.

But when you talk to me about someone in your life whom you love who is transphobic, an ordinary stranger to me, that immediately centers an unwanted connection to real flesh-and-blood people that walk on the same streets I do, sit in the same cafes, use the same public square.

And that’s more than a little scary. It makes me question every stranger in my vicinity when that’s not only unhealthy but counterproductive for all involved. Is that person in this bookstore staring at me because they’re curious or because they’re going to call the cops if I use the women’s restroom?

I know it sucks. You see awful transphobic shit and want to help change things. Maybe you feel the need to understandably communicate you are NOT transphobic. Maybe you need a sympathetic ear in reconciling people you love with their awful beliefs.

And I love that this comes from a place of deep empathy and kindness. We can talk policy, we can chat about misunderstandings of trans people, we can discuss the nature of gender generally.

I just don’t want to know about that person in your life who’s transphobic. It hurts, and it’s scary. I would much rather not have my own fears of these people augmented by your anecdotal evidence.

Originally posted on Facebook. Re-posted with permission.

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Charlotte Clymer is the Press Secretary for Rapid Response at the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ organization. She also serves on the Military and Veterans Advisory Council for Modern Military Families of America, the Board of Directors for the Center for Military and Legal Policy, and the D.C. Commission for Persons with Disabilities. Her political commentary has been published and quoted by numerous outlets. She is a military veteran and proud transgender woman based in Washington, D.C.

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