Lee Schubert is the author of Woman Incognito. As a “non-transition transsexual,” Lee’s journey towards acceptance of her true gender has been decades long, difficult, and remarkable. We asked her to share what are 10 thing you just don't ask a Transgender person...she took the liberty of explaining why and answering some of your ignorant a#* questions.
HAVE YOU HAD SEX REASSIGNMENT SURGERY?
This is basically a question about someone’s genitals, something you probably don’t usually go around asking people about. It’s natural to be curious, but that’s not an excuse for asking about something that would be clearly inappropriate to ask anyone else about.
HOW DO YOU HAVE SEX?
Again, not an appropriate question to ask almost anyone, unless your relationship is getting extremely intimate.
Rule of thumb: don’t ask a transgender person an unacceptably personal question just because he or she is transgender.
ARE YOUR BREASTS REAL?
You may wonder that about a good many women, but hopefully you usually keep your mouth shut. Extend the same courtesy to a trans woman.
IS YOUR BEARD REAL?
Just assume that if a trans man has a beard, it is real. Hormone treatments make it easy to grow for most of them, and many do because it sends such a clear signal that someone is a man.
WHAT IS YOUR REAL NAME?
The one he or she uses now is his or her real name, even if it has not been legally changed. Any old name is just that – old. Let it stay in the past where it belongs.
WHEN DID YOU BECOME TRANSGENDER?
He or she really always has been, although it can take time (even decades) to discover one’s true gender identity.
HOW DO YOU KNOW YOU’RE NOT JUST GAY?
Gender identity and sexual orientation are completely different things.
SO ARE YOU ATTRACTED TO MEN OR WOMEN?
Like anyone else, a trans person might be attracted to men, women, or both. And like anyone else, he or she will probably find the question overly personal.
SO IF YOU ARE A WOMAN, WHY AREN’T YOU WEARING A DRESS AND LIPSTICK?
For the same reason a lot of other women don’t: she doesn’t feel like it. Trans people don’t like to be stereotyped any more than anyone else does.
IT’S REALLY HARD FOR ME TO USE A NEW PRONOUN FOR YOU. CAN’T I JUST USE THE SAME ONE I ALWAYS USED BEFORE?
No. To a transgender person, deliberately using the wrong pronoun is like saying that he or she is not really a man or not really a woman. It is ultra rude and completely unacceptable.
Let this be a lesson to everyone that you should think before you speak. There are just something you don't ask a person.