I was reading a post on Feministe about why it’s not cool to out a trans person. It can be found here.
She’s pretty much spot on. I think a lot of cis folks mean well, but whatever happens? I get to deal with it, not them. Maybe they want to demonstrate that they’re an ally and it’s no big deal to be trans, or maybe they think it’s relevant, or they share everything with so-and-so. All I can say, is if that doesn’t work out, I’m paying for it. A couple examples are in order.
When I came out to my mom she felt isolated since she was only talking with parents at PFLAG. What about her friends?
My mom is a community activist, even though she’d laugh at that term. She organizes, volunteers, and through her work in the health care industry knows literally thousands of people. And, she knows many of my friends’ and classmates’ parents from any of her above activities. This is bad for me, and it always has been. Even before we had cellphones, if I was with a friend, she could never not find me.
Of course I told my mom she could talk with her friends. I’m not a crappy daughter, right? So, she talked with a few of her friends and asked for their confidence, they in turn told their children, and I in turn found out about it. It made things awkward when people I wasn’t planning on coming out to anytime soon already knew. It also sucked since those same people later knew people I worked with. I got outed, finally. Did it all start from telling my mom? I dunno, I hope not, but who knows.
The second example is more poignant. My mom told her boyfriend, who I’ll name Wilberforce (an underutilized name), I was trans. Wilberforce was a character. I really, really wanted to like him. My father had been horrible to my mom, and I desperately wanted her to find a nice partner. Nice he was, just not much more. He was quite a few years younger, smoked an incredible amount of weed, and couldn’t hold down a job for more than a month or two at a time. Some of this was understandable; the guy was a USMC veteran and was suffering PTSD. Some of it wasn’t. He siphoned off money from my mom like it was cool to do, even during her medical recovery, which basically meant he was taking money I was giving her. Look, if I’m half your age and twice as responsible, you have work to do as a human being. I’m not even that responsible. Gosh.
The worst part was his poetry. He wrote well, actually, but it always rhymed. Always. I loved Cat in the Hat, but that was back when I also loved Lunchables. My Lunchables days are past, as is my affinity for the dulcet sounds of sublime rhymes like… sublime and rhyme. Damn it.
Because it was his nature, he approached me about being trans. It was awkward, to say the least. He was very kind, actually, but I just didn’t really want to hear it from a guy banging my mom while stealing from my paycheck. So, I was gracious, because I guess I’m non-confrontational. Afterward he wrote me a poem about my awesome transgender soul. I’d like to say it touched me. I’d like to say I was deeply moved. I’d also like to say, what the hell was he thinking? Alas, I wasn’t feeling it. A bit too weird, that was. Can’t lie, though, I’ve kept it. I think he’s since published it, though, so I won’t be posting it here. You’re not missing out, my one (1) reader, trust me. What did you think transgenderingeds rhymed with, anyway?
So, those are two reasons it’s unkind to out that one, random trans person you know. First, you might get them into trouble at work. Second, they might get awkward, rhyming poetry. Just do the right thing, and ask if you feel you need to share. Ultimately, my mom did the right thing, she asked, and I don’t regret saying yes to that. It just illustrates that things don’t always end up awesome.