As a cis femme, I keep my public commentary on trans folks positive, and reliant on the words of trans friends and scholars. Basically, I stay in my own damn lane. I have some trans friends who are very generous and are happy to share their knowledge and experience with me, but I’m still careful with what I bring them and always make sure to do my research, as to not take advantage. I also talk often with another cis femme friend of mine about trans issues I find challenging, and it helps both of us. And, another thing; I (try to) NEVER publicly post questions or thoughts on content I’m not sure about–the risk of saying hurtful things without knowing it is high.
So before I burden a trans person (who, if statistics are worth anything, has way bigger fish to fry) with my lack of knowledge, I’m sure to take several steps, in this order:
- Google it.
- Check out articles, books, interviews, art and social media from a diverse set of informed voices.
- Think about it. Write about it. Let this new information settle in.
- Talk to a close friend about it who is not directly affected by the issue.
- And after all that, if I still have questions, I ask a trusted friend who IS directly affected by the issue for their thoughts. All the while making it clear to that person and myself that it is a privilege to be in my position, and regularly checking in to make sure the person I’m talking with feels safe, honored, and loved.
I know I used some jargon, so, here are some definitions:
Definition of “cis”: Short for cisgender. Denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with the sex they were assigned at birth. (This is an admittedly simplified definition. Follow the above guide to learn more.)
Definition of “trigger”: Most often used in the phrase “trigger warning,” which is a statement alerting someone to the fact that something contains potentially distressing material. “Triggering” would be a description of such content. “Triggered” is what happens when a person is distressed by the content.
I love you. Thanks for reading. I welcome call-outs and suggestions.