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question for the transgendered/pro-transgendered folk among you

I'd forgotten how often we saw Magritte

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question for the transgendered/pro-transgendered folk among you

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Just was talking to a coworker about Patrick Califa- and the occasion came up to say 'what Patrick talks about now is not the same as what Pat talked about before'. For those of you who don't know Patrick Califa at all, he used to be a lesbian author named Pat Califa.

I kinda fumbled what I was trying to say around in my mouth, and realized why, finally. I'm not sure as to what the answer is to this question, and I know there're trans and trans-friendly folks here, so please, bear with my uncertainty.

Is it more polite-and-proper to say (as a f'rinstance) 'he wears gimme caps from trucking companies now, which she didn't used to do', or 'he wears gimme caps from trucking companies now, but didn't used to when he was a woman'- or is there another option that's not crossing my pea-like brain?
For some reason, Miss Manners is a bit lax on addressing this one, and it occurs to me that there's bound to be some emotionally sensitive content around this.
  • man that's sticky

    it happens to me, too, with people I knew before and after transitioning.

    I stumble through it myself.
    • Re: man that's sticky

      Has anybody who's got first-hand knowledge ever expressed an opinion on what they would think appropriate, then?

      If any trans folk you know are around on LJ, also, don't hesitate to point 'em at this question. It's a genuine '...huh, what's the right thing to do?' question, I swear!
  • Linkage forthcoming.
  • Sounds like a good question for Dan.

    • Hmmmmn. I didn't even think to look at Savage Love for an answer on this one. I think i shall indeed kick this one at 'im.
  • The second option sounds fine to me, though I know trans people who go apeshit at the suggestion that they were ever any other sex. See, the thing with a majority of trans people is that they're trying to achieve normality. They just want to flip from one end of the binary to the other, and then cease being trans-anything and be totally ordinary people. So they don't like to be reminded.
  • Over here from Indi's journal.

    I know one trans-person, who is going male to female. I don't think it would ever occur to me to call Nina 'he' at any point, even though she's still technically male (still trying to get the money together for the operation). Then again, she's been Nina for as long as I've known her.

    If you have to, the second one sounds better to me. But I'm not sure I'd even go that far. "He wears gimme caps from trucking companies now, but he didn't before," would, in my opinion, wrok just as well.
    • If Nina's on LJ- would you be willing to point her here? 'Cause I am seriously interested in what a transgendered person would think was most polite, if the conversation already included the fact that she was transgendered. 'before' seems perfectly mannerly, but- 'I knew Nina before her transition; ____ and I went to elementary school together'. Should Nina have always have been female, in use of pronoun, and therefore 'she and I went to elementary school together', or should it be 'he and I'?
  • (no subject) -
  • I generally try to refer to trans people as their preferred gender, and then if clarification is needed, I explain that they are trans.

  • If it were me, I'd think the second one was more accurate: refer to him by the male in the present tense, but the female when referring to the time when he was still (presenting as) female. That would probably be the most useful way to handle it as well.

    That's generally how I handle it when talking about my own self.
  • I generally would have said "He wears gimme caps from trucking companies but didn't used to."

    A friend of mine who was transitioning when I met her told me to always be safe and say what I see. So if I see a male in front of me, I say He even if that He has a vagina and taped down breasts.

    It also would depend on the situation. If you're close enough with this person, it's probably best to ask what they want. In a situation of gender transition once the person begins to live as the other sex, you can generally safely call them the other sex.

    One of my friends likes Gender Neutral Pronouns, but that's pretty tricky, too because a lot of people aren't even aware of gnp.
  • (no subject) -
    • See, this is exactly why I wondered. Now that a few folks who are ftm (or mtf) have chimed in, I have a better understanding of the idea that hey, talking about this person using pronouns that reflect an image of self that is incompatible with the current self-image is rude. Thanks for helping!
  • I prefer the first one (I am FTM), since it is less awkward and it is true, 'he' used to be 'she', so that's fine, but it varies from person to person I think.
    • I am also noticing it varies from person to person. Hrmn.

      I keep hoping I can find a rule of thumb that's as generically polite as referring to a woman whose marital status is uncertain as 'Ms.' rather than 'Miss' or 'Missus'. I think I may need to give up that hope.

  • In my own manners research, I haven't found a hard-and-fast rule, other than to always refer to a person by the appropriate-to-presentation pronoun.

    As for the 'he used to be she', I think it should be considered much as one would consider when 'outing' a person as queer or kinky; don't do it in public unless they're public about it. Patrick Califia is quite publicly open about having formerly been Patricia (although you can, with authors, also say 'when writing as Patricia', or "when recording as Walter Carlos', which leaves it up to interpretation as to whether they transitioned or just had a nom de plume). But if Jane is not openly trans and was not publicly known ever as having once been male, it might be rude to 'out' her to anyone else as formerly being Jason; in which case, I'd stick to Jane, and not tell that funny story about Jane's Prince Albert piercing from your college days. When in doubt about the past, stick to the present or chosen gender; these decisions aren't made overnight, and not everyone is able to choose to present as they'd wish.

    I know one trans person who declared her previous self and gender to be dead, and threw a wake. She is quite clearly a different person now; I would, if I needed to, make vague reference to "when I knew you way back when", but not by name or gender.

    Also, it is always okay to ask politely which gender or label a person prefers, which is helpful for people whose gender is a bit indistinct (especially if you've met them online). [Persons of nonstandard gender should be prepared to answer this question politely, as it's meant to honor their choices of pronoun rather than risk accidental insult. If you feel your preferred choice of gender or pronoun should be obvious, then drop more hints.] After all, it should be obvious to them that saying "This is Robert; he and I used to work together at the radical lesbian magazine" can, er, engender awkwardness (although that one's crying out for a good joke).

    I would love to hear what tranny_please has to say on this one.
  • Myself, if I were referring to, say, my ex, I might say something like "Cora is batshit crazy. Cora did not seem to be batshit crazy before she started hormone therapy." That refers to a definite event in said person's life, one that they can't pretend "never happened" (unlike pretending they were never a person of another gender, which, uh...oh never mind. I will not rant today.) without hitting some weird button about how they used to belong to a different gender. I mean, shit, old ladies go through hormone therapy too.

    Of course, my ex has since backed out of the whole thing and decided to be a guy after all. So my experience was probably unique in it's fucked-up-itude.
    • typetatypetatypeta

      I'm sorry your ex was psycho- we all have a freakin' nutbar in the deck somewhere, unfortunately. :( Of course, it bears note, you can date a crazy fucker without ever having dated someone transgendered: Ask Me About The Demon Ex From Hell! </Denny's waitress lapel button>

      For the sake of this question, though, let's assume we're talking about someone else transgendered that you know who you didn't used to be dating, who didn't turn into a complete whackjob headcase when starting hormone therapy, and and and. What would be the polite way to tackle events that happened back when you'd've called her 'him'?
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