“But I Was Just Curious!” The Fail Of Invasive Questions

12Jan10

This post has been crossposted as a guest post at Questioning Transphobia here.

There was an incident a few weeks ago. It didn’t happen to my face but it still was a direct invasion of my privacy.

First, some background: If you don’t know me, I’m polyamorous. I date, love and am intimate with multiple people (or well, I would be if I had the energy to find a second partner. That and I’m still recovering from an abusive ex partner). My partner is also poly, they (my partner is nonbinary, hence the pronoun “they”. I swear to god if any grammar cop feels like whining about that I will comment shred with no mercy for degendering and drop you in the spam queue so fast you’d think your name was “meat in a can”) are dating me and a guy currently. This is referred to as a pivot branch poly relationship. Pivots among groups of three are also commonly called V poly because of the V shape of the dating connections. Normally what we do is triads, where all three date each other, but I’m not into my partner’s boyfriend in that way. He’s a good guy, puts effort into stuff regarding our disabilities, our poverty, my partner being a nonbinary trans person and me being a trans woman, and puts a lot of work into the family-like nature that me and my partner tend to have for poly groups, even in pivot or zig-zag poly relationships. Still, he screws up sometimes, as many cis, abled folk do.

He asked my partner what size penis I have.

I’m not going to go into the why of it. In the end, reasons and intent doesn’t matter, what matters is the harmful results. My partner read him the riot act before they told me and he’s worked his ass off to make amends, apologized and hasn’t screwed up similarly since so you don’t need to worry about my well being around this guy. Now, if you’re trans, chances are you know exactly why his question was fucked up and transphobic. If you’re cis, it’s a safe bet that you’re now fairly confused. Allow me to provide some enlightenment. Do try not to get your underwear in a twist over the snark.

My genitals are none of your damn business. They never have been, they never will be. No, I don’t care how curious you are. No, I don’t care about how interesting you find us. No, I do not care how much you care for/try to help/are attracted to/are interested in/feel like you’re an ally to us. They remain, steadfastly, none of your business.

It isn’t just my genitals. Every part of my body is intensely outside of the zone on the Venn Diagram that shows what your business is. In fact if you made a Venn Diagram of your business and my body, there would be no overlap, just two spheres hanging out together platonically, almost prudishly, no touching (see figure 1).

A Venn Diagram Of My Body vs. Your Business. There is no overlap.

And every time your business’ sphere touches my body’s sphere, the latter slaps the former and tells it to fuck off. Too bad your sphere doesn’t learn. And therein lies the problem. Cis people seem to have a hard time grasping the concept that my body is none of their business. This applies on a ton of other intersections, not just being trans, which really shows this blatant disregard for our personal space and privacy in the name of “curiosity”, “interest”, “inquiry” or whatnot for what it is: a symptom and an example of marginalization.

I often ask cis people whether or not they would make inquiries regarding the genital states of other cis people, the bodies of other cis people and so on and so forth without knowing them really really damn well and having that sort of open relationship where that talk is encouraged. Very few do and they always have some sort of half assed excuse or silly rationalization for it too. And of course, those other intersections come up too, where cis men ask privacy invading questions of cis women, abled folk ask privacy invading questions of people with disabilities and so on and so forth. This is likely applicable to nearly every single intersection imaginable. But when it comes to being around people just like you*, you’ll find that burning urge to ask questions that invade and strip privacy fading away (*you being cis people, but it applies to really anyone who happens to be a privileged ass).

Invasive questions aren’t just annoying, uncomfortable and awkward for trans folk. They’re oppressive. They contribute to the idea that we don’t deserve privacy, that our bodies are public property and public knowledge. And since one is subconsciously stripping us of the basic level of agency of being able to keep our genitals, medical history and other parts of our body private, it’s a lot easier for them to do it and still feel like they have a claim to the word “ally”. It’s also harder to address the issue without a whole bunch of cis privileged whining (although really, are we ever spared cis privilege whining based on the type of call out? I can’t think of a single type that doesn’t pull the “BUUUT I DUN HATE YOU, I HAVE TRANS FRIENDS!” or “I SWEAR I’M NOT TRANSPHOBIC, SERIOUSLY. I’M AN ALLY” from the failtastic types that won’t own their privilege). They’re also dangerous. Cis people often ask them without thinking about who they’re around. A good chunk of cis people seem to really like killing, doing general violence unto or at the very least acting shitty to trans folks. Might be cool to avoid asking your stupid invasive question in a mixed crowd that may contain someone who wishes to harm people like me. Actually, would be cool not to ask your asinine invasive question at all.

And really, that’s what it comes down to. The questions? Not even remotely necessary. For one thing, if you’re looking for abstract or general info regarding trans people and our bodies, or how stuff works, there’s enough of us talking about our experiences online, our bodies, the process of hormonal changes and what it does and doesn’t do for us, etc that there is absolutely no reason for you to ask any single person who doesn’t invite you to ask them (or yell out the question to a group of trans folk, yes this has happened before).

Are you an internet user but you’re worried you can’t find these resources and blogs? Use this magical new innovation called a search engine. I hear Google is pretty cool as far as search engines go. Hell, we call using those wild search engines “googling” now.

Don’t have or use the internet? (You probably aren’t reading this post then, but…) Check out your local library and ask for resources on trans people. Don’t have a local library? Find an educator who can send you in the direction of resources. And likely no one reading this blog post right now lacks access to those things, so use those search engines.

Of course, then there are things you really just don’t need to know (unless we both think you should). At all. Ever. No, not even remotely. No seriously, shut the fuck up, you don’t. For instance, you don’t need to know how I have sex unless you plan on having sex with me and I actually want to have sex with you. Asking me how I have sex at any time that isn’t when you and I are discussing how we’re about to have sex so my dissonance doesn’t floor me and kill the mood (or if I have not explicitly invited you to ask) is not acceptable. If this isn’t quite clear enough then I’m basically telling you that beyond those two reasons you have absolutely no reason to know about how I have sex. At all. Ever. No seriously, shut the fuck up. Same goes for any other invasive question regarding personal stuff. Unless I say, “hey, I’m totally okay with answering so and so question” or “ask me anything, literally, I won’t hold it against you” or it is directly relevant to something we both have mutually decided it is relevant to, you have absolutely no call to ask it.

This should be common sense. It generally is, when people are with people who are just like them. Would you ask your cis neighbor (who’s the same race as you, has the same disabilities if any, etc etc) what her genitals look like? Probably not and you’d probably regard someone who did as a disgusting douchebag. Being that, yes, a person who asked that question would definitely be a disgusting douchebag, making your instinct there very accurate. Likewise, if you ask your trans neighbor what her genitals look like, you are now that disgusting douchebag (and perhaps several other different archetypes of douchebag) and no, us being trans doesn’t change that. In fact, it makes it a tad bit worse, considering you’re now engaging in oppression.

This whole not asking invasive questions thing? Yeah, it isn’t hard. It really, seriously isn’t. It’s actually less effort to keep your ignorant trap shut then spout useless, invasive questions that make us feel unsafe, gross, awkward, othered or even endanger us. It’s especially less effort to keep your trap shut than to defend your previous decision to invade our privacy with your oh so cat-like “curiosity” when we tell you that hey, that wasn’t cool, wtf. The best part is that I get that tone argument off the rails reaction from people even when I’m sweet as delicious gumdrop candy about the fact that they just treated me like less than a person. So if you really want to pull the “omg you’re being so ANNNGREEE about an INNOOOCENT question!” shit with me, do me a favor and just don’t bother. I tend to not approve of defensive privilege apologism and derails.

For those of us stuck hearing this blatant cis privileged tomfuckery (a far worse cousin of tomfoolery), there’s many ways to deal with this swiftly and snarkily (provided you feel your safety will be intact when doing so). My personal favorite is asking a ridiculously personal and absurd question in response like, “that depends, have you ever gotten anal from a horse?” Or and I really like this one, giving an absurd and ridiculous answer like, “well actually my genitals are a highly realistic golden statue of Jeff Goldblum holding a cigar and wearing a silver tiara. Priced at 40,000 USD.” (bonus points if you can convert the pricing to Pounds, Yen and Canadian on the fly). Because really, invasive questions not only don’t deserve an answer, they don’t deserve to be treated in a serious fashion. You can certainly answer them or treat them seriously if you want (and many of us feel an obligation or calling to educate, so I get how that goes) but me? I’m going to snark the fuck out of them and then when they inevitably cry their cis privileged tears (which would happen even if I was serious or did anything but cave and say,” sure you can invade my privacy all you want”) I’ll point out, “hey, if you don’t like getting a little sarcasm shot your way, don’t fucking ask invasive and asinine questions.”

Because really, it isn’t okay. I deserve privacy. My body is my own. Information about my body is my own. I deserve this just as much as any cis person. We all do. People damn well need to show it.



57 Responses to ““But I Was Just Curious!” The Fail Of Invasive Questions”

  1. *applause*

    I’ve certainly copped invasive questions (and assumptions) about my body, my genitals, and what I do with both based on marginalised status, but even with that history I’ve been absolutely flabbergasted at the sheer number of people who seem to think those questions are unobjectionable when aimed at trans people, and particularly trans women.

    Well done to your metamour for making such an effort to make up for such a fuck up, and respect to you for accepting the apology.

  2. lol, metamour, I like that. XD

  3. Yeah, it’s a nifty little neologism :)

  4. Great post. I’ll add my *applause* to hexy’s.

    I have a question I hope you’ll answer… some longwinded preface first. I’m reading this as a straight, white, cis woman, and although female physicists are still relatively rare and it’s hard to describe grad students as “privileged,” I know I’m privileged in most situations. So I’m reading your post thinking, oh ugh, have I done this to someone? (Pretty sure I haven’t done anything very very much like this, as I’m pretty straitlaced and can’t imagine bringing up penis size in a conversation. But you know what I mean.) I guess I end up getting in the head of the people you refer to who say things like “I SWEAR I’M NOT TRANSPHOBIC, SERIOUSLY. I’M AN ALLY” — thinking about what might have been going through their head when they thought that was an appropriate thing to say. For example: I often get on my husband’s case when I tell him he offended/upset me with something and he says, “I didn’t mean to offend you!” because I don’t care what he *intended* to do, I want him to realize what he *did* and apologize for it. (Drives me crazy!) But at the same time I understand why he wants to reassure me that he was not being malicious, and at the end of the day, those are helpful reassurances.

    So, I guess my question to you is, what would be the ideal response in a situation where you call someone out for being disrespectful to you? Is it possible to strike a balance between acknowledging privilege and pointing out one’s good intentions? How about some variation on: “I’m so sorry for saying that. You know I really value being [a trans ally, a nice guy, respectful of you, whatever fits the situation] so I appreciate you pointing out when I mess up — and I really messed up this time.”

    Point is… you did a great job above explaining what I *shouldn’t* say if I stumble oafishly into a situation like the one you described. I’d appreciate any guidance you can offer in finding what I *should* say.

  5. A variation on what you said there is basically just fine.

  6. 6 gelasius

    Yes, and also: yes! I truly enjoy bringing the snark to unwelcome questions about my genital status and plans (I’m a trans man) — “so when are you getting The Surgery?” “I don’t know, when are YOU getting The Surgery?”

    That said, I do tend to be rather open about discussing my body with people I know at all, but that is utterly contingent upon my *consent* to such discussions. I will usually answer the questions and try to make it very clear that I am doing the cis* person in question a *favor* by imparting knowledge they should by no means be asking of random trans* person they meet. Maybe that’s setting myself up to be put down. I don’t know.

  7. 7 Samantha

    Yes! I’m freaking sick of these invasive questions!

    The sad thing is, I can pretty much count on being asked about the appearance of my genitals whenever I come out. Every… single… time it’s “so have you had surgery?”

    The really, really insidious part about such questions is that they go above and beyond oppressing trans women though body ownership, they are oppressive in terms of identity. When people ask whether or not you have had genital surgery they don’t *really* care about what your crotch looks like, what they really care about is whether you’ve “completed transition,” are a “real woman,” or some such. It’s a whole litmus test meant to scry your acceptability as a female.

    Sick, sick shit.

  8. 8 anonymouse

    OOH I LIKE IT WHEN PEOPLE GRAB MY BREASTS AND THEN ACT ALL CONFUSED WHEN I RUN OFF CRYING

    Just argh, though. Yes to everything you’ve written; it seems unbelievable that people could feel that kind of entitlement, but I’m well aware they do. This and all the variations on it are reason #59237 why I could only ever be out to the tiniest minority of exceptional people. (And yes, there’s privilege there; there are difficulties that come with being stealth, but I know lots of people don’t get to make a decision about it.)

  9. 9 Ol

    I lurk here quite often but haven’t previously commented.

    I wish this post had a “like” button, and am tempted to make copies of that Venn diagram and stick them places.

    Also, it’s always interesting (by which I mean horrifying) how people can generally be great allies then have completely unexpected moments of fail (unexpected for great allies, I mean, par for the course for everyone else).

  10. 10 Ol

    Have realised that my “everyone else” comment made little sense – I didn’t mean that trans people regularly have cis-privilege-fail. I meant that trans people can have other kinds of fail – was talking about all marginalised groups.

  11. 11 Maura

    My mother taught me to never ask nosy-ass* questions. Not all of her advice stuck with me, but that did.

    Diagrams and graphs of any type usually confuse the hell out of my not-at-all-linear-mind, but that Venn diagram couldn’t be more clear.

    *You’re very kind to use “invasive” instead.

  12. 12 Maura

    My point being, why don’t people know not to ask nosy-ass questions.

  13. *shrug* Maybe. Cis people feel entitled to our details normally, so you might be enabling them.

    But largely, it’s always your choice whether your divulge and how much. I won’t criticize you for talking, I’ll criticize them for being entitlement mongering fuckjobs.

  14. Definitely. It’s body policing to elevate cis form as the only acceptable form.

  15. 15 voz

    it’s hard to describe grad students as “privileged,”

    lolwhut?

    Head explodes from the sheer fuckery of this statement.

  16. I was gonna say that.

  17. 17 alexmac

    This is one of the main reasons why I do panel discussions for college classes. I am often the first trans person they have met, so this question always comes up. Today I finally prefaced my answer with an explanation about how this is a bad question to ask trans people. Hopefully, they will remember the next time they meet another trans person that they should not ask about their genitals.

  18. Xactly, Samantha.

  19. There are schools where the administration happily encourages its graduate students (getting paid supposedly cost-of-living stipends for research or teaching) to apply for food stamps and other public assistance because they qualify. Not everyone’s situation is that extreme but rarely is it much better. Also, I am nominally getting paid to work 20 hours a week but am expected by everyone around me to all but live in my lab and to think about work whenever I am not here. Personal interests outside of research are seen as weakness. Additionally, we are the lowest rung in the academia food chain but undergrads still get basically brainwashed to think that the ideal career must be being a professor and continue signing up for PhDs. Yes, it was in some sense voluntary; yes, it is temporary. But it’s still pretty dismal. My point was that if you ask any grad student if they “live a life of privilege,” I doubt they would say yes.

    But fine, I’m new at this game, so you’re probably a better judge of exactly how privileged my life is. I’m sorry to have intruded.

  20. Thanks much.

  21. Being a grad student may have an effect on economic privilege (i.e. many grad students are living at low class level, a very very small number in poverty), however that does not mean that you lack privilege. Being a grad student doesn’t change whiteness, cisness, being a guy, abledness, etc etc. If you have even one axis of privilege there (and I guarantee you have privilege of some kind, even if just infrastructure privilege, since you’re on the internet) then you are privileged.

    It is a fundamental lack of understanding of Kyriarchy to believe that because you lack one zone of privilege you are not privileged.

  22. I’d also like to point out that being ABLE to access higher education to that level is a function of privilege.

  23. Yes. Definitely. A function of several axes of privilege actually as multiple axes can keep one out of school.

  24. Indeed. For so many, it’s simply not an option, and it always makes me bristle when those who are able to access and complete university education don’t seem to see the privilege that granted them that opportunity.

  25. 25 erleclaire

    I think I understand the content of the article and, frankly, don’t care what someone’s genitals may look like, or the dimensions, or type. I do not even care what someone’s proclivity for sex might be, and further really didn’t want to know. Too Much Information! That is TMI!

    However, what does interest me is the fact that someone is interested in someone else’s privacy, private parts, or their … well, you know. Think about it. What possible affect does someone else’s short comings, or attributes have upon another’s? It is thinking that mystifies me. One can place it in the category of sick thinking. …. It is mental voyeurism!

    And in this case I was sent a link to this by someone who apparently is itching to ask someone a question. Life is full of absurdity.

  26. By the way, may I have permission to repost? Please contact me offline at autumn [at] phblend [dot] com.

  27. OK so this is a true story of a non-T incident a few years ago during which I reacted in a way that could be used, in a safe enough situation, to answer intrusive questions.
    Just outside my place there’s a tree in a small patch of earth at the edge of the pavement, and every year I used to plant it with a few seeds and bulbs. So one day I look out and this guy is urging his small dog onto it, to do what dogs do in the street. I open the door and ask him to use the next tree, 5 metres away, because I’d just planted stuff. He then goes into this little tirade and ends up with saying ‘my dog can piss where he wants’.
    I responded by unzipping and reaching my hand inside my trousers and saying,’well, I can piss on your dog then’.
    He responded with an unbelieving stare and sidled off at world record sidling pace.
    Now I wouldn’t suggest that rummaging around in your pants, maybe muttering something about just needing to check, in response to intrusive questions, would necessarily get the same response…but it’s a nice thought.

  28. Thank you, that makes sense. It was absolutely not my intention to imply that being disadvantaged in one or two senses meant that I “lack privilege,” and I’m sorry for having implied it. I see how I chose my words poorly. I appreciate the clear explanation — I’m here because I want to learn and understand, so it’s really nice to get a bit more feedback than “that was sheer fuckery.”

    You all have given me a lot to think about.

  29. I wouldn’t have had to explain it had you seen what Voz said and then decided to go and do some research on the concept of privilege, instead of sitting around and waiting for us to teach you. Note that sitting around and ignoring everyone who called you out until someone explains it to you is also an element of privilege.

  30. 30 voz

    Thank you.

    I just dropped and ran because calling out privilege is a great way to bring out the clueless asshole in privileged people, as some of the commentary here so capably demonstrates.

  31. I loved that story! It teaches a very moral lesson: if you let your thing do whatever the hell it wants, I will respond accordingly. *ass*

    My point of view: I can understand people not realizing that there are certain questions one must not ask, due to the person they are asking being different to them. It curiosity to its least condonable degree and although I would treat a person who does not know better like a twenty time repeat offender, I cannot say for sure that I would not be aggravated or frustrated by such behavior.

    After it has happened a few times to me, I may adjust my tune a little bit, but I believe in being fair.

    Just in case in seemed that I was implying otherwise: I would not answer the question, but, instead, explain to them on the spot why it is so offensive.

    Love,
    Lain.

  32. Commenting here rather than nesting more because this column has shrunk far enough…

    I have done, and did, my own research. I have no idea why you think you know exactly what I do or don’t do with all my time. I could read all the articles I want but it’s impossible for other people’s writing to necessarily pinpoint exactly what was going on in your heads — that you apparently ignored my statement, “I know I’m privileged in most situations,” and how apparently pointing out one way I am not privileged seemed to you to void my many recognitions of my own privilege. In fact, one of the things I have learned from what I’ve read on sociology, feminism, et al. is that privilege is not a simple yes or no thing. One can be a member of some marginalized groups while also being privileged in other ways. Is that not the entire point of the word “kyriarchy”?

    I’ve tried exceedingly hard to be polite here. I was immediately greeted with a terse accusation of “fuckery” and now with the accusation that by spending virtually all my waking hours working and being only occasionally able to check my email or write a comment here, I am “ignoring everyone who called me out.” I still think of comments and blogs as a place to express thoughts and ideas, to have a discourse, so I think it’s interesting that Voz feels entitled to “just [drop] and run” and also to call *me* the “asshole.” Maybe this is just meta, though — perhaps a really great demonstration of the way that internet access is a form of privilege?

    Probably not, though, because as a straight, white, cis woman with more than a high school diploma, I understand now that I am too privileged to be able to add any insight to the situation or really say anything of value here. It was absolutely not my intention to aggravate everyone and shove myself in where I am not welcome. More than ever, I’m very sorry to have intruded.

  33. look below to the bottom of the comments for the comment by me marked with:

    “@Z (Jan 14, 2010)”

    for my response.

  34. @Z (Jan 14, 2010):

    I can’t figure out if you’re talking to me or Voz. So I’ll assume you’re talking to me and respond accordingly.

    Fact is, you were called out for saying something stupid. Had you done some research (or even just thought to yourself, “now why would someone think the words ‘it’s hard to describe grad students as privileged’ is fuckery?”) instead of deciding, “oh well, I’m just not gonna listen to the harsh answer, in fact, I’m gonna try to excuse what I said”, I wouldn’t have had to even come in and say anything.

    And you got passive aggressive about it too (which, btw, you’re doing right now). Your privilege doesn’t make your opinion useless, however your inclination to want to deny it, ignore call outs and expect education from people are pretty darn problematic. Work on that.

  35. Even though I have cis privilege, I was really flabbergasted by the fact that you got this question. Then again, my first thought was that not only is it an inappropriately invasive question, but it sounds horribly transphobic to ask a trans girl about a penis. It sounds like a nasty form of denying your womanhood by emphasizing male genitals. Then again, this is my assumption and I am not in your situation. I apologize if I’m incorrect.

  36. Why do I see the conversation going something like
    “Hey, what size is RP’s penis?”
    “Gee I dunno, how deep and vaccumus is your asshole? Would you like to hear about the moisture content of my vagina? How hard can you slap and unladend african swallow with your clit?”
    *horrified look*

    love the ven diagram by the way.

  37. I’m not going to go into the reasons, as they don’t really change the damage that was done. I can say that he wasn’t trying to emphasize my genitals, just attempting to get information for something unrelated to my transness. The operative issue of course, is that he felt he had access to my privacy.

    So even without a transphobic reason for wanting to know, asking itself is transphobic.

  38. XD

    I may ask that when people ask me about my genitals. “how deep and vaccumus” LOL.

  39. Damn, this thread of comments just became graphic. XD

  40. 40 Ryles

    I agree with this post. I don’t get why people think they have a right to ask such questions. If I had a burning need to know, I’d politely, and in private, ask if it was okay for me to ask questions like that. I CERTAINLY wouldn’t ask SOMEONE ELSE about it. (unless that’s some agreement you all have :/) And I really don’t see how your penis size is relevant unless you might be sleeping with the guy.

    Also: “my partner is nonbinary, hence the pronoun “they”. I swear to god if any grammar cop feels like whining about that I will comment shred with no mercy for degendering and drop you in the spam queue so fast you’d think your name was “meat in a can””

    It drives me insane that I use ‘they’ for my partner (do you see an ‘s’? I don’t see an ‘s’ in that word) and people ask me how many people I’m dating. It’s aggravating, and as much as I’m glad they’re accetping of polyamory it’d be nice if they were accetping of non-binaries, too. I also use ‘they’ for myself (another non-binary here), and generally include a link to the “singular they” wiki article when talking about it online. it’s just easier.

  41. As a note, it’s a bit ableist to use a slur for the mentally ill and non nuerotypical like that (the word “insane”).

  42. Oh sorry, I wasn’t meaning to say that the question would be appropriate if not asked with transphobic intentions. I understand that regardless it’s still an invasion of one’s privacy and not someone’s right to ask unless you have specifically given permission for it.

  43. Oh I know. I was just explaining why I really didn’t feel I ought to answer your question regarding the reasons (they were weird reasons and prolly fodder enough for a whole different post someday on other issues, so I’d rather not clutter up this one with it).

  44. I’m going to respond to this comment using the “@z Jan 14, 2010″ too.

  45. @z Jan 14, 2010

    As a cis-privileged, class-privileged individual, I’m probably one of the least qualified people to speak up on this thread, but I must tell you that even I can see that you really didn’t do your research before you spoke up here. If you had, you could have avoided hearing all of these comments that hurt your delicate little feelings.

    The fact that the concept of privilege may not be simple doesn’t mean that it’s too difficult to understand. If you have access to advantages that others don’t and those advantages come at the expense of others, you are privileged. Even a cursory reading about the subject of privilege would have revealed why your “grad students aren’t really privileged” was really ridiculous. The fact that you thought it was appropriate to come to this thread and make it all about your needs made it apparent that you are very, very privileged.

    voz was absolutely correct to call your comment “fuckery”, because that’s exactly what it was. In fact, she was doing you a favor by cluing you in to the fact that you were fucking up so badly. You were quick to announce to everyone about your advanced education and career in academia, but then plead ignorance and get indignant when someone pointed out what’s wrong with what you’ve said. If you’re going to brag about your education–and that’s exactly what you’re doing when you bring stuff like that into a conversation that had fuck all to do with academia–then you should expect to be held to a higher level of understanding than those who may not have as much access to information about these issues.

    From one cis person to another, let me give you a little tip: If you really want to learn from someone, try listening more and talking less. Nothing about being a “straight, white, cis woman with more than a high school diploma” means you can’t add any insights to this conversation. It’s a total cop-out to say that you can’t contribute anything of value. Instead of flouncing off, you could have taken the time to really listen to what’s being said to you. The fact that you’ve chosen to get all butthurt at the people who regularly comment here shows that you weren’t interested in what RP was talking about in the first place.

    Newsflash: It’s not all about you–not here, at least.

  46. 46 Ryles

    Well, seeing as I’ve had at least one therapist tell me I have a psychosis (or pathology… eh, whatever) as well as a few lay people and I’m sure there’s more than a few entries in the DSM that fit me, I’ll just chalk that up to my response to the world so that when I say something “drives me insane” I can mean that it literally drives me non-neurotypical.

  47. That sounds like it would work. Reclamation essentially.

  48. 48 sable

    May I use, reference, or re-post this this with attribution? Particularly the Venn diagram?

  49. As long as you credit me and link back, you may do so

  50. 50 Aine

    indeed. Perhaps a litmus test should be encouraged “Would your parents have let you ask that when you were ten? No? Then ITS STILL NOT OKAY.”

  51. Your venn diagram is unspeakably awesome.

  52. 52 Tiger Eye

    Having just read this, I have to say it’s spot on. Definitely spot on. I usually ask, “Why? You want to pay for it?” or “Why is that your business?”

    It’s sort of like random people walking up and touching a black person’s hair. Entirely inappropriate, and entirely stupid to expect the person to want to stand there and be petted like some kind of dog, or something. Now, I’ve stopped folks with dreadlocks to tell them I thought their hair was beautiful, but then I’m also black and interested in getting my hair to lock.

    So it’s one thing to ask, politely, if the process is something you might be about to go through, and you’d like to know what to expect, but it’s another to ask just because you think it’s your right to know. Then, you deserve to be slapped into next year.

    Oh, and by the way? That Venn thingy completely rocks.

  53. 53 alex

    Hi,
    I came across this blog posting linked from a fat acceptance blog talking about body autonomy, privacy and why the hell people would think that it was OK to make judgments and ask invasive questions just because of how they perceive someone physically.
    I haven’t read much about people’s experiences in having to face questions about their transness, so thank you for a really great insight first off. I thought your posting was really interesting. Also, fucking depressing. I am so saddened that this is a common experience, to the point where you have a set “smart ass” reply at hand. I can’t conceive of how frustrating it must be to a) be asked these questions and b) know that for every person that asks, there’s someone thinking it and not asking.
    I also can’t think of a single justification for asking someone these questions. I can’t imagine how a person who would obviously be wrong in asking, would try to justify themselves. “I was just curious and trying to get to know you…?” – Is that the sort of mentality that happens? *I’m* curious trying to imagine how that conversation goes – if anyone has an experience of following on a conversation of this nature past the point where, were it me, I would’ve said “That’s a completely fucked question, get out of my way, asshole”, I’d love to hear your thoughts or responses.
    As a white, cis, educated woman, I recognise that my white, cis, educated womanhood is so not the fucking point here. See what I did there? I also think that it must be incredibly frustrating to feel like you have to be educating people here, in the comments section, about the appropriateness of such comments. Kudos for having the guts and energy to use your “spoons” in giving such sensible and detailed answers.
    Thanks for your posting :)


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