It seems like everyday I hear or read a complaint about Trans* people being asked invasive questions. And I just really don’t understand what all the commotion is about. The most common complaint is about questions regarding genitals. Yes, it’s awkward to have someone ask you what’s between your legs, and yes it awkward to explain your genitals to them. In the grand scheme of things, unless you are in an intimate relationship with someone, your genitals are not their business. I want it to be clear that I mostly agree with that. But there really is more to it, isn’t there? Trans* people like to point out that we don’t go around asking non-trans people about their junk, so why do they get to ask about ours? Well, we already know what a nontrans person has between their legs don’t we? There is no mystery there at all. We know what they have and how it all works so of course we aren’t asking. Trans* people are different. It’s virtually impossible to know what genitals we have, how they function, what the medical procedure was like (if we have had one)… There are a ton of unknowns. As humans, we are naturally curious about things we do not understand or have knowledge about. How do we expect people to learn if we aren’t willing to teach? It’s hard for people to accept things they don’t understand and I’m pretty certain a big goal for the Trans* community is to gain acceptance. We need to be more open, more willing to share our experiences, and more willing to answer questions. If someone asks you if you have had any surgeries and you start going off about how rude the question is, Trans* people may then seem unapproachable to that person. The last thing we should be doing is breeding ignorance and putting a wedge between ourselves and genuinely curious people who may be, or become, allies. If a question is asked with respect then I feel it’s our duty to answer it. I’m not saying we need to go into detail about the size and shape of our bits and pieces, but it’s definitely possible to answer legitimate questions honestly and directly without letting it get too personal. I’ve been asked many times if I have had or plan to have surgeries and I always answer. I have had top surgery, but have no plans for any bottom surgery aside from the hysterectomy I had several years ago.
What was the top surgery like? Are you happy with the results?
I answer these questions too! Top surgery was fucking miserable. I was horribly uncomfortable for a month, my drain tubes stayed in longer than expected, and I couldn’t shower for 18 damn days! There was pain and discomfort from all the tape and bandages, it was a lot of aftercare and it was all a giant pain in the ass. But was it worth it and am I happy about it? YES! I have never made a better decision for myself and I would do it all over again if I had to.
Why don’t you want bottom surgery? Doesn’t it bother you to not have a penis?
I don’t want bottom surgery because I don’t particularly like the results I’ve seen, I don’t feel that it’s worth the risk right now, and I have the ability to pee and orgasm. I don’t want to mess with that. I have arrived at a point in life where I am happy with who I am. While I absolutely wish I had the proper equipment for my gender, I don’t particularly feel like putting myself at risk any more than I already have. I want to live my life, I want to enjoy orgasms with full sensation, and I just don’t feel I need any more surgeries to make myself complete. My decision on the matter is certainly only my opinion, and everyone is different. What’s right for me may not be right for the next person and that’s perfectly Ok.
When I talk to people in an open way like this, they seem to relax around me and get comfortable with the idea of me being Trans*. I show them that I am a human being with flaws and fears just like them. Being honest and non confrontational with their questions allows them to learn, to see that I am just another person trying to live as authentically as possible. I’ve had people thank me for my openness, I’ve had people tell me that they had no knowledge of what it meant to be Trans* prior to knowing me, and I have helped them see past things like gender. I take pride in that. We should all be striving to educate, to dispel myths, to help people understand and become comfortable talking to us about things. Otherwise, all we are doing is encouraging ignorance, fear, and hate.
Now, don’t get me wrong. There are definitely times when these questions should not be asked or answered. Like on public television, or in front of other people. These are private questions, and they should be asked respectfully. If you happen to be a curious non-trans person, I invite you to email me with your questions (if you do, I will post them on this blog with an answer as others might have similar questions and I’m all about education!) at firstname.lastname@example.org. I don’t recommend asking a random Trans* person any of these intimate questions though. Not everyone is as open as me, and while I wish they were, it’s their right to have their privacy respected.
Someday I’d like to live in a world where gender is not questioned and the mystery of my genitals is not an issue to be addressed, but we are not there yet. In order to reach that goal, we need to answer awkward questions, educate, and stop overreacting to the curious nature of human beings. .