AI: Oh no you didn’t


A couple of weeks ago, I was out for drinks with a couple of my (straight, cis dude) friends in Andersonville, which is Chicago’s lesbian hamlet. I hadn’t seen one of them in a while, so I was filling him in on my love life, which currently exists in the person of an out and spectacularly outspoken trans woman. Who does porn. And because we are good friends of long standing and also pruriently drunk, the conversation took a particular turn.

“So how’s that working for you?” he asked. “I mean, if she’s doing trans porn she’s probably still…”

I inclined my head in agreement, both because my ambivalence edging towards distaste where PIV sex is concerned is well enough known among my friends at this point, and because his assumption about my ladyfriend’s junk was essentially correct. “It’s different,” I said. “Not like fucking a cis dude at all.”

“Well, of course not, why would it be? She’s a girl.”

“No, I mean the parts work differently. Because hormones.”

“Excuse me,” someone says from behind me and to my left. “Can you not?”

I turn in my chair, and a person I had assumed was a butch lesbian is glaring daggers at me and my friends. “Uh,” I said.

“I’m not mad–I’m here to educate–but what you’re talking about is really inappropriate, and as a trans person I wanted to let you know that you’re being insufficiently sensitive to trans people.”

Dead silence.

What I wanted to say was That’s not what my girlfriend said last night. But that wasn’t strictly speaking true, both because I hadn’t seen her in a week and because we were still in the relationship discernment phase, and in any case, it wouldn’t have helped a single thing to say it. Maybe he was selectively eavesdropping and didn’t get the context, or maybe he thinks that sex with trans people isn’t something that should be discussed in public at all–even in a de facto gay bar. It didn’t matter. My instinct to defend myself wasn’t going to add anything to the conversation, so I shut my mouth.

But man, it felt weird to do it.

Have you ever had a stranger call you out in a public space for speaking about your own experience? How did you react?

The Afternoon Inqueery (or AI) is a question posed to you, the Queereka community. Look for it every Sunday at 3pm ET.

Featured image from The Unofficial Stanford Blog.

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  1. My experience in the trans community is that it’s a lot of individual perspectives, and one person’s offense is another’s frank conversation sometimes.

    I’ve been called out by other transgender men for my own experiences regarding dysphoria. I find it frustrating because their perspective is essentially I can’t be transgender because I don’t experience much, if at all, the dysphoric feelings they feel, and my being frank about my experiences somehow is diluting the trans experience for others. (See the truscum movement.) Even if I am on testosterone, and expecting top surgery within the year.

    I got called out by a transgender woman for using “trans*” with an asterix to include non-binary folks, and told by using that asterix I was committing violence against all transgender women. As a trans man, I don’t really live on the feminine side of the coin, but I emphatically feel erring on the side of inclusiveness is the way to go.

    I really feel I get a lot of great support from the community at large, but sometimes I feel like I step on minefields by accident. I’m not sure there is much value in arguing. Some folks are coming from a place of hurt, and whether we agree or not, their feelings are real.

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