AI: Inappropriate Questions


The questions people throw at you when you come out to them tend to be (to describe it gently) disrespectful of personal boundaries. Because it weirds me out so much to answer them all, I try to pre-build the patience to put up with it and get on with my life, which generally does the trick.

That is, until they ask about girl sex and how it’s done.

The first time it happened, I had no idea what to even think. I was hit in the face with a blunt “so how is it that you have sex?” and I must have spent several minutes just trying to make sense of the question. Then I gave back something along the very wise lines of “Huh… with our bodies and stuff.” And while I still regard that as a perfectly fine answer, there’s a ridiculousness of sorts attached to the questioning that just begs for something more elaborate.

Every time someone asks that question, what they’re really asking is “so how is it that you have sex, you know, if you don’t have a penis and all?” And while I could provide a list with a variety of forms of penis-less sex, that wouldn’t really make my point. (Plus I’m pretty sure there are books out there that satisfactorily cover that base with very graphic details.)

It’s just baffling how naturally people will ask queer people about their sex lives.

Has anything similar happened to you? How do you deal with the invasive nature of people’s curiosity? Do you try to call them out on their inappropriateness?

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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  1. Yeah, I’ve been asked by people who I don’t really know at all whether I’m “a pitcher or a catcher.” I have been known to launch into rants about the heteronormativity of that question, finishing off with an, “Oh, and it’s none of your fucking business, asshole.”

  2. In the category of “none of your fucking business” is people’s relative feeling of freedom to ask about the status of my genitals. When people find out I’m trans they often will ask, “so do you have a penis or a vagina,” or “so have you had the surgery yet” which is a slightly less inappropriate way of asking the same question.

  3. i try to temper my frustration with people who are sufficiently gauche as to ask about queer people’s sex lives with pity. i mean, if they really don’t have any notion, they clearly have a thing or two to learn themselves.

  4. In the age of the Internet, I’m amazed that anyone can remain ignorant about basic sex questions like these. Without wanting to be too crude about it, there are, um, plenty of websites about lesbian sex in its many forms. Some of them even have pictures, or so I’m told…

  5. My usual response to "How do you have sex" is "Any way we want."  This never satisfies the questioner, but I find it satisfying. It took me awhile to come up with that one, but the frustration it elicits in the questioner is lovely.
    When asked about the status of my genitals (this happens almost every time I disclose to someone that I am transsexual) I don't have a good answer yet. In most contexts I am in a position of being an educator, so I spend a little time explaining why that question is rude ("Just like it would be rude to ask anyone else about their genitals, it is just as rude to do it to a trans person"), but in social environments I haven't found an answer I like yet.
    Another inappropriate question I get is the one that people ask when I wear my kilts, which is fairly often.  They ask if I'm wearing underware, as if my external clothing gives them a right to know about my under garnments. I usually DO wear something under my kilt, which is NOT the answer they want to hear.  I then (almost always) get lectured about the "proper" or "traditional" way to wear a kilt, with the occasional snark "If you wear underware under it, it's a skirt."  This conversation is tiresome.

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