So what happens when someone you highly respect turns out to be transphobic? It’s a question that doesn’t always have a definitive answer. There are a variety of responses, of course. From the most hard-line stance of cutting them out of your life, to accepting them begrudgingly and trying to teach them slowly to acknowledge pronouns and gender non-binary concepts and such. But there’s no one right answer for everyone.
When I came to discover that someone very close to me—supportive of my pornography and music and revolutionary ideologies—revealed a mild disapproval of homosexuality on top of an even stronger disapproval of transgender truth, I decided to reassess my communication with this person.
First, I would not engage or reinforce or co-sign ANY of his statements of supposed unnaturalness of transgender, and I wouldn’t agree with him openly about his questions that he asked rhetorically. A silence first policy helped me shift into a place where I could be more honest with words that I thought might penetrate his defenses. (His opposition to transgender people was not extremely harsh or violent or vitriolic, but mild-to-medium sized (which was mild-to-large sized too much for me to accept).
What I decided to do near the end of our quality time together was for me to tell him about my personal relationship with a beautiful non-binary person. I told him about the positives and negatives that I experienced with this person, and that I had struggles learning to infuse every moment with the proper pronoun—pronouns are excruciatingly important to this person, and I had slipped up on my pronoun accuracy a couple times in the eight months we were together.
I went through some wonderful highs and some painful lows with this non-binary lover of mine, and I had let my close friend know exactly what it was like being with a person who does not identify with being a woman, even though they possess breasts and a vagina. I had my own challenges to face, and I faced them happily with an open heart.
I was hoping to let my open heart influence my friend, and have him see that there are people beyond all our perceptions and understandings at all times, and we will always keep learning the possibilities of people as life goes on. I don’t know if I opened his mind at all, but I hope I had some kind of effect on his heart.
Even if you aren’t in a trans relationship, it’s always a good idea to support and advocate for the trans community.