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I have had cis-gender gay/straight friends tell me they think a trans person is hot/attractive. They also say they’d like to ask the person out on a date. Catch is, the friends don’t know the person they’re crushing on is trans, but I do. Do I tell them? Do I let it unfold with the universe? I guess my fear is that I’m putting the trans person in danger, but I also don’t want to out them.
Hi Cis Ally,
Any time we have to be taught anything about respecting the humanity of a marginalized community, we are learning at the expense of that community, and we need to make sure we implement what we’ve been taught, because the price paid was exceptionally high. There have been times over the last five years that I was surprised to discover ways that my thinking or behavior was transphobic or exclusionary, and, like so many of us, I just needed to learn a different way of thinking about myself and the rights of others to simply exist. I’m glad that you wrote in and are willing to be vulnerable. A lot of people will benefit from the answer to this question.
I asked my trans friends for their thoughts and feelings:
OMG, reach out to trans friend and ask them generically: ‘Should this situation ever arise what do you want me to do?’ and do what they say or give the trans friend agency to disclose! If talking to the trans person is not an option, default to giving the trans person agency to disclose!
The urge to warn cis friend is rooted in transphobic feelings. Questions for cis people to think about before disclosing someone’s trans identity:
• LOL, why do they need that warning?
• Do you think your trans friend hasn’t had to negate the awkward convo of disclosure before or will in the future?
• What makes you think you’re helping them by spreading their business?
• Do you want to be responsible if cis person actually gets upset? —A. Luken
Trans men are men. Period. Unless their trans friend would be in danger, what does it matter if they are trans? If anything, we tend to be better partners because of our experience navigating the world as female and male. (And if you think your friend would be in danger, then you should maybe rethink the company you keep.)
I like A. Luken’s point that the trans person decides what can and can’t be said about them. Some trans folk are really open about who they are and others are terrified to be outed. No one should ever out anyone else, unless they have consent to do so.
And a side note for those people that might be hung up on dating a trans person… Get to know us as a human before worrying about things in the bedroom. Sexuality is fluid and your fear or phobia may lead you to miss out on someone and something really incredible.—Kasen Meek, who writes a trans life column for Yes Louisville: yeslouisville.com/author/kasen-meek
Mind Your Own Damn Cisness. It’s literally never a cis person’s job to out a trans person, and I don’t for a fucking second believe the ‘I’m just concerned’ angle. Wooooow.—Cee
No matter what, they should not out their trans friend. As A. Luken suggested, discussing what to do in this scenario first is the important thing. It might also be worth noting that outing the friend could potentially put the friend in physical danger. If the person they’re being outed to doesn’t take the news very well (read: they’re a hateful bigot), it’s possible the trans friend could be attacked.—Vidalia U.
Just reaffirming what others have said. I don’t know how everyone goes about it of course, but a lot of 20-30 year old trans friends that I know (mostly women) will disclose that info immediately as to avoid danger and/or a letdown after more emotional investment. But yeah, never anyone’s job to out anyone else. Ever. As someone who’s been outed by (ex) friends as though it’s a deep dark secret, I can’t fully express the pit of depression and lack of self-worth that formed in me.—Sara H.
Thanks to everyone who helped answer this week’s question! Cis Ally, I hope you’ll take the advice of these trans folks about how they’d like to be treated because a life could literally be on the line. The Human Rights campaign reported last year, “Sadly, 2019 has already seen at least 26 transgender or gender non-conforming people fatally shot or killed by other violent means. We say at least because too often these stories go unreported — or misreported. “—Minda