I've had a weird weekend.
I had the best birthday of my life, and turned 40 years old. Somehow it was an entire day blissfully unaffected by any of my mental afflictions. Then the day after, my mental issues all returned at once to remind me who is actually in charge of my life. (Spoiler: It isn't really me.)
I also had several people I thought I could strongly depend on to remain allies and friends push me away that unpleasant day after, once I felt that I needed to talk to someone about it. So that was fun!
Here are some statements I have heard with some regularity as a trans woman. Since I'm already exhausted early on a Monday morning, and am contemplating what kind of self-harm sounds like a good choice to distract me from my misery today, have a gander if you like.
Enjoy these for that they are, however: thinly veiled bigotry. I hope you haven't heard any of them, because if you have you know how much they hurt. And if you use these, I can only hope you have even the tiniest shred of compassion and reconsider.
"At least you don't have periods/menses/cramps." "At least you can't get pregnant." "Bet you're glad you don't <whatever> like a real woman, huh?!"
You think you're making me feel better, but all you're doing is reminding me how I am not a cis gender woman. So thank you for othering me! Keep bringing up things I have to force myself to be okay with every single day of my life, knowing full well there's nothing I can do to change them. I'm sure my already non-existent self-esteem can withstand yet another blow.
"So are you gonna have the surgery?!"
I'm not sure, are you and your significant other having sex tonight? Could you describe that for me graphically, please? I'm interested in how you and your partner use your genitals, and in what configuration they exist.
See how intrusive and off-putting that is? Stop it.
"I wish you had more trans friends."
This means nothing of the kind. Instead, the speaker does not wish to hear whatever it is you're talking about because it hurts their fragile cis feelings. They would really rather you discussed it with "your people" instead.
Yeah, no. Stop speaking to them about the topic at hand, and strongly reconsider your friendship. Especially if this is something they brought up in the first place, and are now aborting their way out of with this completely obvious gem.
"I had a panic attack once, it wasn't so bad."
I'm so happy your experience was not traumatic. I appreciate that you are making an attempt to relate to me and the issues I face daily. However, please be aware that not everyone's experiences with mental health issues are the same. Most are not. My anxiety is debilitating, and prevents me from leaving my house on all but the best of days. I have zero close friends because of it, and have little hope of making any presently. My depression has caused me to attempt suicide a number of times, and consider it as a valid option daily. But feel free to try and top these, since you seem to believe this is some kind of one-up-manship game, by all means.
"You're so brave for coming out/being trans/wearing that/having that opinion/etc!"
You're an insensitive boor, of course I'm not brave. I'm terrified 24/7 because of people just like you who think this is simply a complex affectation, or a choice I decided to adopt to "be cool".
It isn't. It's my bloody life.
Have some compassion and think about what you're saying before speaking, please. I beg you. Other trans folks beg you.
"You shouldn't get offended if people are anti-transgender, you can't ban every person or business who has a bad LGBT record."
Owing to my terrific social anxiety, I rarely leave the house. Try me. I bet I make it far longer boycotting those companies than you can make it banning all LGBT-friendly corporations...
"Enough with your social activism, let people be bigots if they want. They're entitled to their opinions." "Political correctness takes the fun out of everything."
If you don't like my "political correctness", or picking and choosing my battles the way I see fit, it may be because you're an ass. You may want to look into that and correct it.
I'm fine with opinions until they affect my personal life and liberties. Once that happens, you're taking "free speech" beyond its limits, and you should expect a poor response.
"Why couldn't you just be a feminine male?"
If I was a feminine man, I would present as one. But I'm not.
Please understand that I am not a man in any way. I look like one physically in some regards. Admitted. I can thank society for that, as well. When I tried to get help as a child I was told I "didn't understand what I was asking for". So I appreciate you reminding me how every thread and fibre of my life I could have salvaged has been permanently brutalised by testosterone. Thanks to people like you, who don't feel comfortable with trans people.
Not only is our society not any more okay with this choice, but I would be mocked and shamed every bit as much as I am currently. Though of course, they do have a point:
people wouldn't call me a "man in a dress" any more, would they?