Do you feel comfortable answering questions about your gender to friends? Acquaintances? Strangers?
I was just about to say that I am more than happy to answer questions about gender in general, but I guess when it comes down to my gender it depends on who asks.
Sometimes it is easier when it is coming from a stranger, for example when I might be facilitating or running training around Trans* 101 or gender diversity. No one knows me so I don’t really care about other people’s judgements and am more than comfortable challenging inappropriate questions or assumptions made.
Acquaintances, especially people who I might be starting to get to know, sometimes make me feel a little more uncomfortable in answering questions about my gender. A work colleague for example would trigger a mild anxiety attack as I feel uncomfortable as is being ‘me’ at work. I think everyone assumes I am a lesbian and no one has ever asked anything else about me. I’ve told a select number of people at work about my involvement within the trans* community and disclosed my pronoun preference, but that is about it. My comfort level with other acquaintances really depends on many factors like how did I meet this person, do they understand the basic trans* stuff, what questions are they asking and how do they identify.
Very few friends (who aren’t trans* themselves) have asked me about my gender and overall I am more than happy to answer. I have to say one or two people have asked me very personal and possibly inappropriate questions, which at the time I answerd too quickly and honestly. It wasn’t until I was recounting the conversation with trans* friends that they flagged it as not appropriate – even for someone who I consider a friend. I suppose at the time I got caught up on ‘educating’ them about trans* stuff that I didn’t think about what questions were ok not to answered. For this reason I’ve often referred people to the Dude Trans Male Zine section of appropriate and inappropriate questions.