Simmons College Trans*Forming the dialogue: What is and what is not OK to ask trans people.

Simmons College Trans*Forming the dialogue

Simmons College Trans*Forming the dialogue

Trans*forming the dialogue

Planet Transgender was invited by the Simmons college of social work to take part in a Pride Month project “Trans*forming the dialogue”.

Why would Simmons college care what people say about us?

Simmons became the third woman’s college in the United States to accept transgender students officially in 2014. Although their transgender undergrad policy stated they had previously enrolled Trans students they felt compelled to address the issue due to the increased acceptance and integration of the gender variant community. (The Tipping Point)

Source: Trans*forming the Dialogue We reached out to people who identify as transgender and transgender allies to help us by offering their perspective on how we can positively shift the conversation around the trans experience. Many leading voices contributed their answer to the following prompt:

  • What are 2 – 3 question that one should NOT be asking a transgender person?
  • What are 2 – 3 questions that one SHOULD be asking a transgender person?

Being an international news and commentary media outlet Planet Trans reached out to our contributors and readers worldwide seeking answers. Here is a small sampling of the responses:

What’s cool to ask a trans person?

Newfoundland Canada: what are your preferred pronouns?

UK: Amy Walker Planet Trans associate editor:
What names and pronouns would you like me to use?

US: Would you like to get a cheeseburger?

Helsinki, Finland: Millä nimellä kutsun sinua? (By what name shall I call you? We don’t use separate pronouns like he and she in Finnish)

US: What are you passionate about?

What’s not cool to ask?

Newfoundland Canada: what is your “real” gender?

US: Planet trans journalist Claire Renee Kohner: “So, do you have boy parts or girl parts”

US: Will your put your penis in my mouth/ass/pussy/vagina/wife/husband/etc? —- you need to have a real conversation with a trans person you want to have sex with at the appropriate time about what you expect out of sex with them, and what they expect out of sex. What we are ok with and how we have sex is as varied as we are, especially the issues of genitals.

The questions were fielded to our Arabic trans community by Planet Trans journalist Dr. Maya Hasan.

السؤال اللي يضايقنى انت بتتخنت وتتشبة بالبنات ليش وليش ماتسترجل زي الرجال
The question that bothers me is if you look like the girls why, why do not like men?

ماهو اسمك السابق قبل التحول؟
What is your birth name? I mean before transition?

Boston Massachusetts: ‘What is your real name/old name?’

US: There is no such thing as “a trans.” You should “a transgender person or individual.” Trans should never be used as a noun and using it as such is very problematic. Most trans people will find that extremely offensive. Not trying to be an asshole, but just for future reference.

Helsinki, Finland: Miten harrastat seksiä?
(How do you have sex?)

Are you going to have “THE SURGERY”!? (as if there was only one surgery, and as if that was the defining question for all trans folks). – Zoë from Seattle (p.s. yay Smith! I hope to attend your social work program one day smile emoticon )


Should it be a surprise how the respondents from around the world echo each other sentiments? If it was, then know this.

The Trans community separated and segregated by political borders, languages and religious beliefs are one in our common struggle. Planet Transgender was only able to post a tiny sampling of the responses and we are awaiting communications with our communities in Russia and Iran. They have yet to respond but when they do this post will be updated.

In conclusion.

We seek only to be treated respectfully and to be given a level playing field to achieve or dreams. We are appreciative of Simmons College for Trans*Forming the Dialogue and helping in our struggle.

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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender


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