Don't Cry Over Spilt Trans Beer

Be yourself with a trans person (or with anybody, for that matter).


I'm post-op, have had laser hair removal, wear make up, have a full head of hair, and delight in dresses, jewelry, mascara, and lipstick. I enjoy being female in what some call a "prototypically" feminine way.


But that's just it. What is a "prototypical feminine" presentation?

What is a "prototypical feminine" presentation?

The Glass Isn't Half-Empty or Half-Full. It's a Glass.

Every trans person you meet is an individual. If they dress in a way you see as "masculine" or "feminine," remember—that's your idea of what constitutes those categories.


Because we're all naturally the heroes of our own stories, we tend to see our own judgments as hewing to "the norm." Relationships and friendships test entrenched and unconscious attitudes. When Pam and I were first engaged, we noticed that what each of us assumed was a "normal" family gathering radically differed. She met my family and came away ears ringing. My fams bellowed, guffawed, argued, and got in each other's faces with Italian gusto. I had a great time; Pam was shell-shocked. At her family's gatherings, you don't broach tender subjects, raise your voice, or hint at confrontation.


The lesson? Families don't hew to a norm.


Funny, then, that, as a trans woman, I'm sometimes held to a predetermined standard of femininity. Lemme give you some encounters.

Every trans person you meet is an individual. If they dress in a way you see as "masculine" or "feminine," remember—that's your idea of what constitutes those categories.

Encounter 1

A coworker notes that the strap on my sandal is loose. When I hoist up my skirted leg to fasten it, she says, "That's not very lady-like!"


I ask, "Am I a lady?"


"Well, you said you are."


"I am. Did I just do that?"


"Yeah, so?"


"Then it's lady-like."


Encounter 2

Another coworker says, "Bethany, when you go up the steps, people can see your underwear."


"Um, Brunhilda, what you're seeing is a pair of white spanks."


"Well, I can see them."


"I wore them specifically so you would see them instead of my underwear, 'cuz this is a perfectly cromulent short skirt. Why are you looking up it, anyway?"


Encounter 3

"Bethany, Marie gets along so well with you, and she doesn't normally open up to men."


"Uh, that's cool, 'cuz I'm not a man."


"Yeah, but she must feel safe around you because you don't represent a danger she'd normally see in a male [blushes and mortifiedly says]—Oh! I'm so sorry! I didn't mean it that way!"


"That's okay. The reason she opens up to me is why she opens up to anybody, male, female, or one-eyed Martian—she enjoys my company without reference to my gender."


Encounter 4

In my group of bar accomplices, all the guys open doors for me, pick up things when I drop them, and greet Pam and me with, "Hello, Ladies!" They're part of a great group of friends.


Yet, at the same gathering, they'll debate me on sports and politics and tell me ribald jokes that they'd not tell the other women in our group.


And I don't have a problem with this because I am who I am. They unabashedly relate to me in this way because I'm a living alternative to their accustomed gender-binary expectations. And that's totally okay. I'm glad I can help them in that direction without any effort on my part because I get to be who I am and enjoy that other people enjoy me.


The Extremes

Gender binaries are just that—binaries, extremes, polarities. But human beings don't normally dwell in extremes (otherwise, they wouldn't be called extremes). We live life as it comes to us and discover that what we welcome with unselfconscious joy is not a reaction to something alien but a heart in us that embraces a kindred heart in others and in the world.

Think about what you slosh on others. And let trans folk slosh with the same gusto.

Don't Cry Over Spilt Beer

If someone jostles me while I hold a pint of ale, why does ale splash out?

Three persons in Halloween costumes.
Pam, my daughter, & me (glasses not yet half-empty)

Because I was jostled?


No. Because that's what's in the pint glass.


Think about what you slosh on others. And let trans folk slosh with the same gusto.


BTW, the drink's on me! (And I look fabulous in it.)