Scroll To Top
Trans

5 Backhanded Compliments Trans People Hate Hearing

5 Backhanded Compliments Trans People Hate Hearing

5 Backhanded Compliments Trans People Hate Hearing
Basil_Soper

People are awkward. Sometimes, when they feel uncomfortable in social settings, they respond with a nonpliment (aka a half-hearted remark disguised as a compliment).

Nonpliments often come from people of a privileged upbringing who believe false affirmation is the same as complimenting them.

For example, I met a smarmy restaurant manager who asked me if I was from Massachusetts like my girlfriend. I replied, "Oh no, I'm from South Carolina originally — I'm a southerner."

He looked confused and said, "Oh, cool. I like southern people." Good for you, dude.  That's like telling a black person, "I like black people."

These comments probably come from a good place. However, you should know that the receiver walks away feeling confused and alienated. Many cis folks nonpliment transgender people in an effort to give affirmation. Here are six of my favorite nonpliments given to trans people. 

1. You look JUST like a man/woman.

Also known as "you pass really well." Here are some other variations of this nonpliment:

- “Wow, you look really great! I’d never guess you were trans.”

- "When I met you, I just thought you were a normal guy!"

- “That’s amazing. It’s just like a real beard.”

- “I have three other transgender patients, and you’re definitely the best of any of them. I mean, you actually look like a real woman.”

Hey, I look like a man because I am one. Remarking on a trans person's passibility or "realness" validates the idea that somewhere inside of you, you don't think we are real men/women. We know who we are. We don't need you to comment on it or hold us to cis-normative beauty standards.

2. You're so brave.

Someone came up to me in the grocery store and said she read an article I wrote and was touched. I thanked her and as we parted she grabbed my shoulder and looked into my eyes as she said, "You're so brave." I bashfully thanked her and looked at my feet.

I wanted to say "I'm just shopping for food. I don't want to think about being trans right now or my body." And, how did she know I was so courageous? Because life must be difficult for me? How taxing and sad. It must be such a struggle to be me.

I'm so  brave for being unique in this vast cis world? The biggest trans issues are actually issues cis people have with the trans community.

3.  Trans people are cool. I support you.  

The best way to support me isn't to announce it. Don't make a big deal about trans people. Focus that energy on helping us end transphobia. That's how you show real support. 

4. Oh, you're trans. I couldn't figure out whether you were gay or straight. That makes sense.

Your assumptions about trans people and gender that are stereotypical and constricting. The idea that men are a certain way and women are another way is so irrelevant and uniformed. 

5. You're way nicer than other trans people.

Not all trans people are the same! Being trans is not a personality trait; some people are nice and some people are mean. It has nothing to do with being trans. 

 

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

author avatar

Basil Soper

Basil Soper is a transgender writer, activist, and Southerner who wears his heart on his sleeve. He's an astrology enthusiast and tears up when he watches unexpected-animal-friend videos on the internet. Basil's life goals are to write a memoir and be the best uncle ever to his niece, Penelope. Learn more about Basil at ncqueer.com.

Basil Soper is a transgender writer, activist, and Southerner who wears his heart on his sleeve. He's an astrology enthusiast and tears up when he watches unexpected-animal-friend videos on the internet. Basil's life goals are to write a memoir and be the best uncle ever to his niece, Penelope. Learn more about Basil at ncqueer.com.