Stories

Teaching My Uncle about Trans People

Dinner Party

This story comes from a reader…

My Uncle Lou came all the way out to Seattle to visit me last year, so I organized a dinner with friends, many of whom are gay or lesbian. I also invited a trans woman who I met online at TSmeet.com. The dinner went fairly well. My uncle is from a conservative little town on the East Coast, so I was surprised that he had a lot to talk about with my friends. However, as soon as we were alone, he began to ask me about my transgender friend, Michelle.

“So… he’s like what? A queer?” My uncle stuttered out. I gently corrected him and told him that she was transgendered. I further explained that she had been born with male anatomy, but identified as a woman and was now living as one. It’s funny to me because I have known her a while and only as a woman, so she’s just exactly that: a woman.

My uncle kept using the incorrect pronouns throughout his questioning, even though I corrected him about ten times. Finally he started to get the idea. I also started to explain to him the difference between cisgendered people, those who present and identify with the gender they were assigned at birth, and transpeople.

He asked me what people “like this” who live in small towns do. I told him they probably hide out, or move to a cool city like Seattle! I then told him that if he ever met someone whose gender seemed ambiguous, that they would probably appreciate it if he would ask them what pronouns they prefer to use. After he returned to the East Coast, he called me to let me know he had seen the words “cisgender” and “transgender” on a list of terminology in his daughter’s new college handbook. He felt proud that he could talk about what he had learned in an environment of open acceptance. He also asked if I had seen my friend Michelle and how she was doing.

I hope this story will encourage others to educate their friends and families who may not have trans people in their lives.

The Quickly Shifting Language of the Transgender Community

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