I get asked a lot of questions. A LOT. Strangely, I don’t mind. That’s something that I’ve had mixed experiences within the Trans Community. I’ve worked with other transgender people who do public speaking but tend to tell the audience all the questions that they shouldn’t ask of a trans person. My approach has always been that people should ask me whatever they want, even the questions that another trans person will say is offensive. The reality is that everyone has questions and if there isn’t at least one person willing to answer them the questions will never go away and ignorance will continue. Education is the only way for us all to grow together.
The number one question – Do you have a penis?
The short answer is No, but that’s not even half the answer.
Along with HRT, there are two major types of surgeries that a trans man can elect to undergo. First point, surgery does not make the man. I was always a man. The hormones just helped me feel more myself and present outwardly by changing my voice and growing facial hair. I chose to undergo a bilateral mastectomy, also known as Top Surgery. The Medical page goes into more detail. I had Top Surgery to help resolve my body dysphoria.
Bottom Surgeries as more complicated. The adage is that it’s easier to dig a hole than it is to build a pole. Trans women seem to have more and better options than trans men, though both are astronomically priced and have painful recoveries. The Medical page goes into more detail. At this point, I have not chosen to undergo Bottom Surgery because I don’t feel that the technology is there yet to justify the cost and the pain. Sometimes my body dysphoria makes it difficult but I know that whether or not I have a penis doesn’t change that I’m a man. The person I am is what makes me a man.
There is one more thing I have to say about this question: I answer it because it is a deep, burning desire to know for many people and I would rather I be asked because I can handle it. However, that is a deeply offensive question to ask a transgender person but not because of the answer that people are hoping to find out. It’s so offensive because it is offensive to ask anyone that question and nobody would ask anyone else that question yet transgender people are asked it routinely. Being transgender does not mean that the intimate details of your body are now open to public discussion. We are at a point culturally where transgender people are so other that it dehumanizes them. Most people who ask that question don’t realize that they have devalued the transgender person they have asked because it is tantamount to saying, “You are not deserving of the equal treatment I give freely to others so it is now alright for me to ask you a question that would otherwise be completely inappropriate.”
How do you have sex?
Not the second most asked question but it falls under the same category of inappropriate dehumanizing. I experienced this question more as an out lesbian though than I have as a trans man. I think it’s silly because if you’re asking this question than you already understand the mechanics of sex which means you’ve probably already imagined or considered how it works (or seen a porno) so really when someone asks this they just want to hear something smutty.
Do you have a period (menstruation)?
What’s with all the junk questions? Just kidding. I know. We’re curious creatures. And it’s totally ok to talk about someone else’s junk, just so long as it isn’t mine.
Oh, wait, it is mine.
No, I don’t have a period — anymore. The testosterone that I take weekly stops menstruation completely. However, if I ever stop taking it for about 4 – 6 weeks than it’s shark week all over again. I had to stop my HRT to undergo Top Surgery and had the only period I have had since transitioning. I was horrified.
What restroom do you use?
The one with the toilet.
Seriously, I use the Men’s Room because I am a man but the Ladies’ bathroom is about the only thing I miss from before I transitioned. Cleaner bathrooms. See also, Restroom Madness blog.
Can you be trans and be gay?
YES! I’m not but the fact that I get asked this question makes me happy because it means that people are connecting the dots that sexual attraction and gender expression are two different things. I have lived as an out lesbian before my transition but I am a straight man.
A follow up question that I get asked but has the same answer: if trans woman is assigned male at birth but is attracted to women why doesn’t he just stay a man and be with a woman? There are many things wrong about that questions but I will let it go, hypothetic-person-I-made-up-to-ask-the-question-wrong-intentionally. Let me repeat that sexual attraction and gender expression are two different things. A trans woman may have been assigned male at birth but that doesn’t have anything to do with whether or not she likes other women or men. The point is who she is and not who she likes. Your identity is not defined by your attractions, that’s just a facet of your personality.
Usually the people who struggle with these realities the most are those that it is just outside their realm of conceptualization. It’s not really their fault.
Isn’t being transgender a sin?
This may seem like a shocking question but I do get asked about religion.
I’m Catholic. As a kid, I was even an altar server (unleash the altar boy jokes!). I struggled with Catholicism during college. At the time, I was an out lesbian and it was difficult to reconcile my need for religion while most all religions condemned LGBT people. After my transition, I found an inner peace I had never known before and developed a closer relationship with God and the Catholic church. I’ve been grateful to the current Pope as he has chosen to teach love that brings people back to the church instead of condemnation that pushes everyone away. I can’t tell someone else what their faith should be or how they interpret their beliefs. I know without a doubt that God loves me and I pray every day.
I’ve had people say that by trying to change myself that I’m subverting God’s will. I think it’s ridiculous to even consider that anybody or thing is capable of subverting God’s will. My Mom is the one that has the best answer. She simply says, “This is the way God made my Son and God doesn’t make mistakes.”
When did you become transgender?
Somebody else might go into a litany about why that questions is wrong but I know what you mean. I transitioned November of 2013. That’s when I celebrate my Manniversary!
What if you change your mind?
I change my mind all the time — but not about this. It’s a hard one to explain to people. The best I can do: It can be hard for a cisgender person to wrap their brain around it because it is quite literally beyond their comprehension. I had an acquaintance in college before I transitioned that could not understand that I had no sexual attraction whatsoever to men. She couldn’t wrap her head around that because while she could accept that I am attracted to women to idea that I had no attraction at all to men didn’t make sense. To her mind it was a simple math absolute. Women are attracted to men and men are attracted to women and women being attracted to other women did not cancel out that they must still also have an attraction to men on some level. For some cisgender people, their identity is such an absolute that it is not fathomable for it to be a question while for others identity is fluid. No, I won’t change my mind because I fall into the category of absolute. I know without question or hesitation that I am a man. I always have been.
This answer is almost always followed up with, but when did you know? Please see previous Q & A about my Manniversary and the blog of the same name.
Are you a transvestite (or drag queen/king)?
No. Transvestites are statistically straight men who like to play pretend or fetishizes women’s clothing. Drag Queens are fabulous people who sometimes also are trans women but it is not a requirement. Same goes for Drag Kings. Drag has become its own style and cultural altogether so while it has a close relationship with the Trans community they are not mutually inclusive.
What is your real name?
Trick question: This blog is Anonymous.
The actual question is, did I change my name for my transition? Also a trick question because I did but it was my last name because my birth certificate had my last name as a hyphenate but I have only ever used one of my last names so I was getting the other dropped. I did not change my first name but I had the benefit of a non-gender specific name so there really wasn’t a need. My Mom has since made many a joke that she should have named me something hyper girly like Trixie (no offense intended if that is your name) but now she has resolved that it was all just God’s will.