Etiquette In Gender: Four Tips For Talking To A Transgender Person

Here are some secrets to making sure that THIS is the message you’re sending to trans-folks.

I had an experience at work not long ago that will stay with me for some time.

A regular at the welcome center that I work at (a regular according to him; I’m usually to busy to recognize faces) approached me. And while I don’t think he meant any harm in retrospect, he asked me a lot of questions that were kind of creepy and made me feel uncomfortable. So uncomfortable, in fact, that I spent a few minutes when I got home that day shrieking in frustration into my pillow when I was sure no one was around.

So, to help circumvent such awkward moments for transgender and cisgender folks alike, I’d like to highlight a few problem areas in the exchange I had in hopes that people will understand why these particular topics are bothersome to us and hopefully avoid them in the future.

Most transgender folks don’t like being reminded that they are transgender

The issue started with the gentleman correctly assumed that I was transgender because I apparently looked like his sister (telling a woman she looks like your sister is troublesome as well, but a different issue altogether) and she was transgender as well.

Now, I’m an exception to the rule in this case; I typically don’t mind if people ask if I’m trans or not because I see it as an opportunity to educate and inform them about any questions they may have. However, calling attention to it can cause a lot of trans-people to feel singled out and targeted. Bare in mind, ours is a community that has spent the bulk of our time in the mainstream consciousness ducking a lot of hate people that have issues with us. So when someone points out that we’re transgender, our first thoughts tend to be a panicked flurry of, “oh god, does this person have a problem with me? Are they fetishizing me? What do they want?”

Usually, it’s best to just treat them like a human first and let them come out to you once they feel comfortable around you. Remember: nobody likes to be outed against their will.

Don’t ask us for our “real name”

He then proceeded to take note of my nametag and asked me if that was my ‘real name’ and what it was. Being at work, this was the point where I had to bite back on my anger and inform him that I didn’t feel comfortable divulging that kind of info.

The fact of the matter is that the names we use, whether we change them or not, ARE REAL. They’re the names we use to interact with others and that they use in turn. They’re as real as they would ever need to be. Suggesting that our chosen names are aren’t real is a good way unintentionally delegitimize us and our identity. If we change our given names, there’s probably a good reason why we don’t want you knowing them.

Don’t call too much attention to our bodies

One of the things that most often marks me as a trans-woman in public – and the thing that this gentleman keyed on – is my height (6’4″ in flats). This wasn’t too objectionable as many people are quite fond of my height. However, it was when he got to asking me about HRT and surgery that things got a little strange.

As I said, transgender people typically dislike being reminded that they are transgender. And a good way to remind us is to ask us personal details about our bodies. It’s actually really hard to talk about things like Gender Affirmation Surgery or Hormone Replacement without feeling like someone is fetishizing or judging us (our dating profiles are often clogged with messages akin to, “Dick or no dick.”). So, once again, let us be the ones to come to you first instead of just asking us if our boobs are real (seriously, not even cisgender women like that).

But even if this guy was a perfect gentleman about all the above, it wouldn’t have mattered because he broke the number one rule…

Don’t ask people personal questions when they’re on the clock

I’ve noticed that this is a problem that mostly plagues the men that enter my business rather than the women; girls will often wait until I’m out shopping or walking in the park to ask questions and make passes at me (yes, I’ve been flirted with by women as often as – if not more often then men *blush*).  And it’s not like I don’t enjoy the compliments, the attention, or the chance to inform people because I do. It’s just that timing and situation makes all of the difference.

So, I’m going to spell this out to everyone as plainly as possible: Regardless of whether a person is trans, cis, or otherwise, DON’T GET PERSONAL WHILE WE ARE WORKING. We can actually get in a lot of trouble for discussing personal lives on the job. Plus, our responses are very limited due to the level decorum we’re forced to maintain. Waiting until we’re working to ask personal questions or make passes at us has the effect, whether you intend it or not, of making you seem opportunistic and cowardly by forcing us to speak to you in a time and place where we can’t tell you off without being punished for it.

In short, don’t treat us like women, men, or something off the binary; just treat us like people.

Good Worker Etiquette: Things You Should Do No Matter How Crappy Your Job Is


I don’t care how overworked you are, you can at least make the effort.
Source: Firstcall

Regardless of your feelings toward your job, there are just some lines you don’t cross. I understand the need to buck the system in the face of injustice, but you have to at least be considerate of the other people stuck in the same boat as you; i.e. your coworkers.

To that end, I’ve decided to construct a short list (ever notice how good I am at those) of faux pas to be avoided in the work place and why.

Avoid In-fighting with co-workers

It’s unavoidable. You’re going to come across someone that just rubs you the wrong way at work. Maybe they’re under educated, ignorant, and refuse to learn. Maybe they’re the type that like to tease co-workers for laughs.

The fact of the matter is this; neither of you are there to make friends, you’re there to get a job done and you won’t be able to do that if you’re both busy at each others throats.

If you have a problem with someone, unless it’s a serious issue like harassment or violence, just let the twit continue their childish antics. If it becomes an issue, then you have the right to raise a stink and inform your supervisor. The more time you waste fighting over mundane things, the more slack the other people you work with have to pick up for the both of you.

Everything Is Everyone’s Job

Have you ever heard the advice that you should specify a person to call for help in an emergency instead of simply saying, “Someone,, get help?” The reason for that is that people like to assume that someone else will do it instead of them and help comes to late

The same mentality exists in the workplace; everyone likes to think that something will be taken care of by a co-worker. As a result, the job never gets done.

If you’re a supervisor or otherwise in a position of authority, designate people to take care of tasks. This will increase the likelihood of it getting done as well as make it easier to find the people not doing their share of work.

If you’re an employee and you see something that needs doing, take charge and do it. It will make things go smoother later on and make you look good in the eyes of your superiors.

This isn’t to say that you should be constantly doing favors for others when you know that they were the ones charged to do it. It just means that if you have spare time between your tasks and notice something that needs doing, you should do it to help others stay on top of things.

Even Crappy Jobs Deserve a Two Week Notice

So, you’ve finally found a job you think you’ll enjoy. That’s great for you, but that will screw up things for you co-workers if they don’t know ahead of time.

The reason the “Two Week Notice” rule stands in most places is so that schedules can be worked around being short a person and so that employers can start looking for new hires to make life easier for everyone.

Ditching a job with no prior warning is a warning sign to other employers that you’ll back stab them and make life miserable for them the first chance you get. So be sure to provide a window of time between telling them you’re going to quit and actually quitting.


How To Debate Without Being A Jerk

Maybe not, but one can learn to make them more pleasant.

So, I’ve noticed a rather upsetting trend lately as I followed some of my favorite personalities online. It seems that few people know the etiquette of debate.

Now, this is not focused on anyone person. This is a problem that has sprung up on many occasions with many people. I don’t want this to feel like an attack on people. This is a legitimate plea for civility among intelligent people.

I think most of the problem can be traced to the focus of debate. Far to often when civil debate goes awry, it seems that the conflict is focused less on the topic brought up and more the person who brought it up.

When someone online offers a position other than one you prescribe to, it’s perfectly fine – helpful even – to offer your own views. That’s how we learn and expand our knowledge. It’s not okay to decry a person as subhuman garbage and debate the person’s worth. Seriously, it’s embarrassing how many videos there are out there on YouTube and posts on Twitter calling people out for their views and theories that focus on their hatred of the person without providing any factual rebuttals.

As for the people on the receiving end of this vitriol, you have a role to play as well. Fortunately, your job is very simple – don’t encourage them. I’ve seen many people make the mistake of replying to unenlightened forum troll and retweeting acidic Twitter posts. This has the effect of dragging you through the same muck they dwell in. I realize this sounds like the sort of stuff your teachers and parents parroted to you as a child, but when your credibility is on the line, few things are worse than being just as rude and barbaric as the people making fools of themselves just to get at you.

It’s quite simple – debate ideas; not people. Debating ideas is how we figure out what works and what doesn’t. Debating people is how we start fights that inevitably end in pain, shame, and ruined images that last the rest of our lives.