Just for fun


The other day the Every Lovely Mrs J sent me a link around How to be an Ally to Trans People (link here if you’re curious), bless her. We had a bit of a chat – and a few laughs about the training we’d had over the years – some good, some great, some that *ahem* might need a spot of improvement.

Now, occasionally I get to do a bit of Q&A around what it can mean to be Trans*. Through Chameleons, I’ve had just under a dozen or so training opportunities with various organisations in and around Nottingham. Now, not only does this get me out a bit (which is cool in my book), but it brings funds into the group, and lets me fly the flag a little. Sure, I’m pushing on an open door, but people are genuinely curious and I think that’s great. Much as there are occasional steps backwards – not mentioning a certain bigot coming to the UK this week –  as a rule, things are improving.

For kicks & giggles, what if we twisted the not-so-PC questions that we T folk sometimes hear? I mean, what about the idea of an event to celebrate being straight as per the news this week? What if we ran the following questions at a seminar as people walked in?

  • When did you decide you were cis & straight? Are you sure it’s not just a phase?
  • Are they real? [points to top] I mean, they look pretty real. Can I touch one?

  • So, what’s in your – you know – underwear? [waves hands around the groin area] Do you think you’ll keep things as they are?
  • Does having your family jewels loose hurt? Wouldn’t you be better tucking them away? I mean you don’t want them to flop around in your trousers right?
  • Is this a bit like doing drag then?
  • Who helped you with your makeup this morning? It looks pretty good.
  • Is that your own hair? You didn’t buy it then? It looks very real.
  • How long did it take you to grow a beard? Do you think it’ll get fuller as you leave it?

Some of those are a bit near the knuckle, so treading carefully might be a good idea. 🙂 I’m not sure I’m quite brave enough to take the above approach – it is meant in jest – but it does seem like a lot of fun. But, maybe when you’ve been asked the Trans equivalent of those, maybe it’s more tired than amusing. I hope that’s not the case.

Still, I think when used appropriately, maybe a bit of humour can be used to break the ice and hopefully change some views too.

Take care,


  1. The "when did you decide you were cis/straight?" question is actually a really good reply to the opposite. If you're lucky you can get the listener to consider their own assumptions and prejudices.

  2. So, I got this via email and I thought it is an interesting comment:

    "Has it ever occurred to you that among all the cheeky people that asked these type of questions that there might be a few people who not known how to hold a conversation with you and are trying to establish a common frame of reference?"

    So, first off, my post was meant as a bit of fun and apologies for any offence.

    Picking up on the idea of a common frame of reference, some of the above questions are a lot to deal with – from both sides – when people meet for the first time.

    None of my friends are black but I work with a guy who is. I don't know him very well. As much as I'm curious about his life, if I'd said hi and then asked "so, do you get much racial abuse then?", that would seem too much to me. Anyone of colour, please feel free to dive in here! 🙂

    Equally, when I meet a woman at work, I don't ask about Chilly Classrooms or everyday sexism. For blokes I don't ask about the discomfort around our -ahem- equipment activating in the office.

    But, for visible trans people, we get the equivalent. Hence, my somewhat clumsy attempt at making light of the questions to take the edge off.

    With that out of the way, if you are curious – and I think it's commendable you're interested – how do you ask. For me, I would wait to see if you get to know the person. I think there are things we can ask a friend or close colleague that someone new might feel uncomfortable answering.

    If you know that's not going to happen – time factors, etc – try open questions. If the trans person is here to talk about the issue, go with something like: "I've read in the media about the transman journey, what's your experience or views on that?" or "I am very new to this, what do you think I should know about this topic as a starter? Are there things I should and shouldn't ask?"

    If the trans person isn't there to give a talk, then that's another matter. You could ask how they're doing today or just strike up general conversation and see where that goes.

    FWIW, there was a trans person in a course I was running at work. I very much wanted to say hi and talk, but I was in bloke mode and I wasn't sure if she'd appreciate the conversation, so I didn't.

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