Afternoon InqueeryCissexismTransgender

AI: Out When About

(Due to a post scheduling technical error I have yet to figure out, this AI is a day late, apologies everyone!)

A talk-back radio show my partner recently happened to tune in to ran a segment on transitioning, particularly focusing on the process of changing one's birth certificate to reflect one's preferred gender. While the trans* advocate being interviewed did a good job at explaining the social basis for why this was important, the conversation basically descended into concern-trolling about needing to keep 'historical records accurate'.

While that alone raises many interesting points that we could dissect here (and please feel free to), another point was raised during one of the many derailings of the conversation that I’d like to probe, if possible, for today’s AI.

It was the fear of the hypothetical situation of a couple that have been dating for a short while, during which one withheld knowledge of their trans status to the other, and how this would be totally evil and awful for the unsuspecting person who’d been ‘duped’ the whole time. Firstly, while I think it’s completely up to someone as to whether they choose to share this information with anyone, and that there can be very many legitimate reasons why someone would not wish to, I also personally don't know any trans individual who's done this to their partner, although I do admit, my sampling pool isn’t very large. I was hoping to get more of a consensus on this issue to either build more evidence against this fear-mongering, or, for some reasons as to why the option to not disclose such information might be a valid option for you. Either way, it may potentially be a step in the right direction to send the concern-trolls back to the caves from whence they came. So let me pose the question:

How soon after starting a relationship with someone would you (if at all) consider telling them about your trans status? Do you think it would even be relevant to do so and why/why not?

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it to appear Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, at 3pm ET.


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Bip lives in Sydney, Australia, where she attempts to study how viruses work and hopes someone gives her a PhD for it. Apart from microscopic organisms, she also has a soft spot for animals, humans and robots. Bip was raised Muslim and female but is now skeptical of both.


  1. April 6, 2012 at 5:02 pm —

    I would think if you're planning on starting a family and you're straight, then fertility might be an issue and in that context a history might be discussed.
    Personally, I think my past can be interesting and I might bring it up in that context.  I don't think people have a right, automatically, to know every last thing about me, though.  My past is something to comb through on an as needed and as desired basis.  There's no obligation.

  2. April 7, 2012 at 1:00 am —

    I have at least four friends who are trans*. Of those who I know about, three of them are fairly out, listing it on online profiles, etc.  For those who are pre-op, they kind of have to out themselves to their dates before things become too serious. Even though I live in a fairly liberal city, there's enough transphobia in the queer community that this is often the last they hear from their dates. In this light, I totally understand why someone would want to go stealth.
    I have one friend who isn't out to anyone. She even denies her status to trans* friend who have attended trans* support groups with her. She has not chosen to talk to me about this decision. I don't think she's under any obligation to tell anyone, and I don't feel that I'm in any place to judge her actions. I would hope that she can eventually accept that part of herself enough to be out to people who care about her and have had similar experiences, but it's totally up to her.
    I identify as gender non-conforming, and I don't like being labled with my sex. My gender presentation runs the spectrum, but even when I strap and stuff, I'm usually read as female. I would think that, if I were treated as a different gender growing up, that would be something I would tell those who were close to me. I don't think they could fully understand my experiences without knowing this. I think that a lot of trans* people feel this way – the three who are out to me seem to. I'm not that close to my stealth friend, and I wouldn't know if she was out to her girlfriend.

  3. April 7, 2012 at 1:47 am —

    I try to be completely open about being trans, as well as depressed, poly, and asexual, so for the most part it's not an issue because everyone already knows. I worry a bit, because some of my friends have had this sort of thing come back to bite them in the ass, but so far it's not been a problem for me and I think it's worth the slight risk in order to raise awarness of transness, asexuality, depression… as well as to help other people become more comfortable in being open about their own similar issues.

  4. April 7, 2012 at 1:52 pm —

    I am fairly public about my gender history, so when I date people from my social pool they already know that history, and we usually discuss some of the details about it fairly early (first or second date?).  When meeting someone for a date who I don't socialize with normally, I usually have met them online and all of my online profiles are clear that I identify as FTM.
    I cannot imagine not sharing my gender history with my partners, just as I cannot imagine neglecting to share other parts of my history with my partners. It is much like my educational history, or my relationship with my parents, or the kinds of activities I enjoyed as a child. These are the things that have influenced the kind of person I am now, and I don't believe I could be close with someone without sharing them. I would not want to date someone who did not want to share their past with me, even the unpleasant parts.
    Finally, I wonder why anyone would think that the ability to change your birth certificate would be a factor in disclosure or non-disclosure to partners.  Who checks the birth certificate of their new significant other?  I've never seen the BC of anyone I have been with including my ex-wife. I just don't think it's a factor.

  5. April 7, 2012 at 2:30 pm —

    i really abhor this whole "deception" notion.  it's a poisonous concept that legitimizes transphobia and even violence against trans people.  not because the vast majority of trans people are, in fact, quite open with potential partners from early on, but because the whole business really shouldn't be framed this way, regardless.  say you go on a date with a woman who then tells you that she's trans.  the only way this can be read as deception is if you 1) fundamentally don't accept that people are the gender they say they are or 2) assume that everyone you meet is cis.  either way, that's really cissexist.

  6. April 7, 2012 at 8:51 pm —

    Considering that I’m not completely out right now (I’m sitting in Mongolian BBQ in total boy mode while writing this, for example) and that I’m still dating the same person I was before I started transition, I may not be the best person to comment on this. However, the concept of deception is one that I feel very strongly about, and do agree with the post above mine.

    As a hypothetical situation, if I were dating someone new, I would feel that relationship out before telling them. I would want to be open about it before sex, as I personally believe it’s important to be completely open in a sexual relationship. However, and this would be especially true if dating a guy, I would be amiss to tell them on the first date solely because an adverse reaction could potentially kill me.

    I believe it’s important though because, as Benny stated, it forms a huge part of my identity and the person I am today (as well as the person I’m becoming).

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