“It’s just a joke, they didn’t really mean it like that.” “Just because you can’t get a date, that doesn’t make it a real problem.” “That happened so long ago, people aren’t like that any more.” “Why does any of that even matter?”It matters because in 49 out of 50 American states, the Trans Panic Defense is still legal – that is, a person can claim that they were so shocked or traumatized to find out someone close to them was trans, that they couldn’t stop themselves from assaulting, killing or even raping them – and it works. It matters because last year, two trans women were attacked and sexually assaulted on public transportation while onlookers did nothing to help them. It matters because in addition to all of the typical fears and anxieties surrounding dating, trans women also have the extra weight of that constant and persistent danger at the back of our minds. Even in openly queer spaces, trans women of color are ostracized and victimized more than any other demographic. Even while being perpetually victimized, trans women are always considered a threat. A threat to heterosexuality, a threat to masculinity, a threat to womanhood, a threat to society. So I really can’t teach anyone how to love trans women, and I’m not going to try. But I will tell you how to start treating us with respect:
+ Do more than accept our gender. Acknowledge it and embrace it, unquestioningly and without hesitation.
+ Don’t insult our appearances, but don’t lie to us about them either. Don’t shower us with insincere flattery to placate your own guilty conscience. We know how to recognize fake compliments.
+ Stop asking us invasive questions. Full stop. You don’t need to know our birth names. You don’t need to know our medical histories. You don’t need to know how our parents feel about it. It’s not your business.
+ Educate yourself. Don’t make it our job to undo every toxic thought that anyone has ever put in your own mind. Do your own reading, do your own research, show us you actually care.
+ And most importantly, keep us safe, even from yourself.Show us you understand what kind of danger we’re in and do what you can to help us. You can reblog and retweet#LeelahAlcorn and #BlakeBrockington all day, but if you aren’t doing anything for the trans people here, still alive, still in peril, it doesn’t mean a thing.For you to love us, you risk embarrassment and a few awkward conversations. For us to love you, we’re risking our lives. If you want us to care about you, then you need to prove that you care about us first. Prove that you’re worth it. Suggested Reading: GLAAD Media Reference Guide “So You Can Fuck Us; What’s Next? Going Beyond Sex With Trans Women” Luna. Autostraddle Michelle Jones, the author of this post, is a blogger and fiction editor from Central VA. You can find her on Facebook. This post was brought to you by Blackmillennials.com.