Trans 101

  1. You are a person. You are worthy of respect. You deserve to be treated with the same dignity as anyone else. There is nothing inherently wrong with your gender. You are not broken, you are not disgusting, you do not deserve to be hurt.
  2. You’ve been brought up and live in a world that’s designed to erase and demonize your existence, you’ve probably internalized a lot of that- and that’s not your fault. But it can be hard to deal with. But you aren’t alone in dealing with it. And sometimes you have to buy into it to be able to handle it (trigger warning: transphobic violence). And that’s okay.
  3. Your gender is no more or less than anyone else’s. Your history doesn’t make you “not really” or “less” your gender than someone with a cis history, it just makes you a person of your gender with a different history.
  4. You do not deserve to be held to higher standards than cis people. You do not have to “prove” your gender by forcing yourself into societal roles that may not fit. You are not “failing” anyone by fitting into societal roles that are comfortable. It is not your job to break down the binary/patriarchy/or anything else. If you want to, go for it, but you have no obligation to do anything for cis people just because you are trans.
  5. Being yourself does not hurt trans rights (so long as you aren’t trying to do so while stopping others from being who they are) and is not a reason why people don’t have to treat you with respect. There is nothing wrong with being a feminine man or masculine woman, or being a person who’s comfortable in their body, or being a person who doesn’t transition all the way, or being out about having a non-binary or genderqueer gender. You have not “failed” anyone by doing this, you are not “less” of your gender than someone else. Being who you are is not a valid argument for why people can’t treat you as who you truly are.
  6. No one else has the right to say your body needs to be changed. It only does if you need to change it. Or if you want to change it, that’s valid, too. Your body does not make you “less” your gender. It doesn’t make you “not really” your gender. It doesn’t mean you’re trapped in someone else’s body. You do not have to fix your body to “become” your gender- you already are your gender. All you need to do is what you need to do to be comfortable in your body. And if that includes reclaiming your right to label your own body, you are allowed to do that.
  7. You have just as much of a right to privacy as anyone else. You do not need to tell anyone about your body, your medical history, or anything else. Whether or not your body needs to be changed for you to be comfortable, you do not have to change it to deserve to be treated as who you are. You do not owe anyone intimate details about your personal life before you can be treated as who you are.
  8. You have no obligation to educate anyone. This includes trans people, but is most important with cis people. You are not a walking encyclopedia of transgender and/or transsexual information, you are a person. You do not have to answer every question any cis person comes up with, you do not have to represent trans people as a whole, (see 7) you do not have to bare the most personal and vulnerable parts of your soul to other people on demand.
  9. Not educating people does not “hurt” trans rights. NEVER let anyone try to guilt you into educating people or doing something you don’t want to do by insisting that doing otherwise will “destroy trans rights/acceptance/whatever”. Trying to force trans people to become walking information desks or to put themselves in dangerous situations regardless of whether or not you’re even up for dealing with this destroys trans rights and shows a great deal of intolerance. Asserting that you don’t have to tell anyone anything you don’t want to? That really doesn’t.
  10. If you do want to educate people, you are allowed to set limits and boundaries. You are allowed to say that you won’t talk about certain issues, or that you will only talk about them on your terms. You are allowed to decide which people you will talk to about which issues. You are allowed to change these boundaries if you become uncomfortable educating people you were previously willing to educate. You are not obligated to educate anyone just because you educated someone else.
  11. You deserve to take care of yourself- whatever that means. You deserve to be comfortable and safe. You deserve not to be in dangerous situations. If you can’t handle something alone, you deserve to ask for- and get- help or, if you can, take a break from it until you can handle it. Or just stop doing it all together, that’s okay. Taking care of yourself does not make you weak, it does not make you an attention-grabber or overdramatic, it does not make you “less” your gender, it does not mean you betray other trans people by not being a full-time (or even part-time) activist. You’re human, you have limits, and that’s okay.
  12. You deserve to have your boundaries respected. Any boundaries- how and where people can touch you, what information you give to who and when, what places you feel comfortable going or who you feel comfortable going with, what people can tell others about you.
  13. You deserve to have the words you are and aren’t comfortable being referred to as respected. You deserve to have the proper pronouns used (and, if there are times when it’s unsafe for that to happen, you deserve to have your safety maintained by those around you), you deserve to be called the proper name, you deserve to have the words you want used to describe your body used, you deserve not to be called by any label, pronoun, word, or name that you don’t want to be called.
  14. If you’re asking for something that you need to feel respected, comfortable, and safe- you are not asking for too much. Your identity is not “too complicated”. Your needs are not less important than anyone elses’.
  15. You are a person. You are worthy of respect. You deserve to be treated with the same dignity as anyone else. There is nothing inherently wrong with your gender. You are not broken, you are not disgusting, you do not deserve to be hurt.
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57 Comments

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57 responses to “Trans 101

  1. Thank you.

    I’ll be publiscising this as widely as I know how. I needed this. And I know other people who need it just as much.

    • I’ll definitely try to do the same. The only thing is that I really can’t let anyone at my school find this because the people this blog tends to focus on would make my life hell for it, I’d imagine…

  2. Indeed. Some of the same problem here.

  3. 65mm

    Thank you for this. My identity lies somewhere between condoning stealth machine and information desk.

    • Same here. I don’t dislike educating people, but it has to be on my terms, which seems to be a problem for people. And I really don’t feel comfortable coming out or speaking up a lot of the time.

  4. Pingback: Our terms are NOT unreasonable « Binary Subverter

  5. Dreki – I have a platform to speak at a University event next Tuesday. I’m considering giving a talk (yet to be written) entitled “On the very idea of Trans 101″. Would it be okay if I ended that talk by reading out this Trans 101 for trans people?

  6. Thanks Dreki :-) I really appreciate your support. I hope people will listen to these words of yours and take them into their hearts.

    • I definitely hope so as well. It’s mostly for trans people, but I think cis people could do with hearing it as well. Cis people tend to be completely unaware that this is something we need to be told- something that we’re constantly told we dont’ deserve. They need to be aware of that.

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  8. Shit, this almost made me cry. Wow. Wow. Wow.

  9. A

    Love this. Thank you!

  10. thank you so much for this!

  11. Michael

    Just linked to this on the ftm Livejournal community…it was just what I needed to read rightnow, and I wanted to thank you for writing it.

  12. ~S~

    This hurt to read so much I’m trying not to cry. People have spent my whole transition forcing me into the “information” position. Well beyond what anyone should. Well beyond respecting that I may have boundaries (in what I say and even physical boundaries) that they just walk all over. Thank you so much for posting this. I hope to be able to slowly work through the list (it’s really hard for me to digest all at once) so I can be on-guard for those who’d prey on me further (I realise that shouldn’t be my job either).

    • I’m sorry you’ve been put through that, it really is horrible how people will treat someone who’s different. I know it can be hard to get through the list, I don’t always fully remember it. I hope it helps.

      And being on guard shouldn’t be your job, either, but unfortunately it can be really necessary. :(

  13. This is such an amazing list. Thank you so much for writing such a balanced, self-care interested piece. It is beautiful. I wish everyone in the world could read it; I think it’s that good.

  14. Tom

    This is one of the most powerful and true things I have read in a long long time. Thank you.

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  16. Thank you.

    I hadn’t realized how damn much I’d been focusing on cis people with the trans 101 (or 102, or whatever) stuff I’ve produced, and this put a lot of it in perspective.

  17. Juho

    Thank you so much.

    I believe that everyone of has had some insecurities, but this made me feel somehow safe calm.

  18. Pingback: Trans 101 « a genderqueer transition

  19. Yes yes yes! Especially this: “Your identity is not ‘too complicated'” Thank you for writing this!

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  21. Ace

    This is a beautiful and necessary post.

    Would you be agreeable to my translating it into French and distributing it non-commercially and with whatever attribution you see fit in the community here in Montreal?

    • That’s fine. :) If I knew french I’d ask to verify the translation, but I don’t. I don’t think I know anyone who does and understands trans people. :(
      If you don’t mind including the URL “binarysubverter.wordpress.com” on it somewhere, that’d be great.

      • Ace

        My pleasure. I assure you that before it is posted or distributed, I will ask first-language francophone trans people in the trans committee of the queer collective I belong to to verify it. And I will attribute it as requested.

        Thank you again for your moving words.

  22. Kayla

    It’s a bit late, but thank you sooooo much for posting this. I kinda needed to hear some of this stuff today.

  23. Pingback: cis and/or feminist coverage of trans issues, however sympathetic « 13(BZ)

  24. Bushfire

    Beautiful, wonderful, thank you!

  25. Larkin

    This is fucking amazing.
    I think I am going to print it out and put in on my wall.
    THANK YOU. Seriously.

  26. Dymara

    Thank you for this, so much. We never hear these things often enough, it seems – I broke down sobbing the first time I read this piece, and it still brings me to tears every time I read it. Which is pretty often, given how much it helps.
    May I reblog this with a link to this blog on tumblr? (And/or would you prefer a different link as you mentioned to theo last year?)

  27. Pingback: In The Wake of Anti-Trans* Violence: Haunts And Introspection | The Second Sex Column

  28. sarah

    i agree theres to much hurt n not enuff love ta go round …..

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  31. caintnt

    I love this… Through I’ve now had a friend get a little pissed at me for calling my right to the right pronouns and name… Apperantly their too stupid to stop calling me by my female name and use my chosen name or nickname (neither are too hard, either. Plenty of people call me by them.)

  32. Thank you. So damned much, 100 thank yous are not enough. I have been dealing with a LOT of crap over my identity and this really helps me get through the hard days. I printed it out and keep it in my wallet. The amount of crap I get for not transitioning has been massive.

  33. Alexander

    Hey Dreki, im currently struggling with my gender identity atm, and this really helped me understand that no matter who/what i identify myself with, i still have the same rights as anyone else :’) thank you
    Alexander (currently)
    p.s. can you give me any help with identifying myself? Im finding it really hard…
    p.p.s. you should become a public speaker. So inspirational :’)

    • Hi- I’m really glad that it helped. :) I can try to give you help with identifying yourself- is the email you listed here one I could contact you by? I do want to warn you that I’m in a difficult situation so I’m not sure how good I’ll be at getting back in a timely manner, I’ll do my best, though. I don’t know how active it is anymore, but the forum What is Gender? really helped me with figuring out my own identity- it might help you, even if it’s not very active reading over what other people have said might help you a little.

  34. Gillian Marie Klee

    This is well said.
    Gillian Klee

  35. This is my absolute fave trans* 101. I pass this on to people all the time. I run a community center for radicals, and I think I might actually print this and put it up on the wall. There are quite a few trans* groups and ‘Trans* & Queer’ groups who use the center, lots of younger folks.
    Thanks for writing and sharing this. :)

  36. Chris

    Thanks for this. I know I’m going to have to read it many more times.

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  39. Reblogged this on yetanotherlefty and commented:
    People I know are often in need of hearing this.

    Trans and maybe-trans and I-don’t-fucking-know and my-way-of-being-isn’t-recognised-in-colonialist-culture people, this is for you. Read it whenever you need to remember that you are just as much of a person as anyone else and you deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

    Cis, otherwise not-trans and I-guess-I-never-thing-about-gender people, this isn’t for you but read it anyway. Think about how you can help change the world into one where people don’t need to be reminded that they aren’t broken. Think about what you and yours may have said and done that contributed to making people believe such things about themselves. Learn. Be better.

  40. Pingback: This Sucks, but You’re Probskies Gonna Make It: Dealing With Dysphoria | The Optimistic Pluot

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