“You look like an attractive man to me”

by Annaelle

Trigger warning : Cis-splaining.

The other day I was at an animal’s rights rally just outside Mont-Royal Subway Station. I exchanged pronouns with people, started chatting. About how we got into the animal’s right movement, exchanged vegan recipes. You know, the usual stuff vegans talk about at a rally about urging people to stop eating animals. Everybody was mightily sympathetic and affable and stuff.

Then the organizer came to speak to me.

– So… I heard you changed your name, [mispronounces it].
– You are aware that terminal “e”s are mute when next to another vowel, right ?
– Really ? I, uh, I didn’t know, [mispronounces it exactly the same]. Anyways, I wanted to ask you why you were doing this.
– Frankly, at this particular time, telling you about my transition is the last thing I need.
– ‘Cause, you know? I’m older than you, and I also had a phase like that.
– (No! No! Could you please shut up!)
– Don’t tell me you wanna get yourself a sex-change !
– Jude, If you wanna talk about my genitals, the gentlemanly thing to do would be to ask me out for dinner first.
– You do know I’m gay, right ?
Rapport ?
– No… ugh. I mean… I’m gay. And I know many people in the community, many of them trans. I know how this works, but the only thing I don’t understand is how can a guy believes he can change who he is in his gender.
– I see that you know exactly what you’re talking about indeed…
– Yeah… well… in fact, maybe I should stop talking to you about this…
– There! Right there! You’re absolutely correct!
– …because I can clearly see how emotional I’m making you.
– For real ?
[beat]
– But I just wanted to say that I know what it is like, because I had a phase too, and I know a lot of trans people, who dress like the other sex.
– Dude… You realize you’re confusing being trans and being a cross-dresser, right ?
– That’s not what I meant.
– That’s what you said.
– Listen to me!
– No, you listen to me : your language is problematic because it makes all kinds of essentialist assumptions that I don’t care to break down for you, but it’s important that you understand that there is a right way to talk about trans people and issues such that you don’t implicitly invalidate people whose intimate spiritual experience don’t match with your prejudices and your assumptions. You saw me twice. You know nothing about me, save the fact that I’m vegan and a kick-ass pamphleteer. Two things that have nothing to do with my gender.
– But I’m gay! I know what it’s like to have a feminine side.
– Ugh! Sorry to ruin your party, but there is nothing feminine about a dude fucking other dudes. It is, on the contrary, the manliest thing conceivable.
– It’s not what I meant, I meant that I’m 52 years old, and I had a girl phase when my name was Judy.
-That’s about as relevant to my life as if a straight guy told you he knew what being gay was because he gave another guy a blowjob at a frat party.
– It’s not the same thing.
– You know what, I’m freezing here. I’m going to get some warmth inside the station. Hold my sign.

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