Many people - particularly those who have never met a transgender person - are naturally curious about what it’s like to be transgender. There may be unfamiliar terms, conflicting information, and uncertainty around what to ask and what not to ask.
Asking transgender people questions about their experiences can be a great way to learn more about what it means to be transgender but sometimes, the questions can get personal or offensive.
Here are some questions you shouldn't ask a trans person, ever:
1. What Part Do You Have Down There?
Not only is this question rude, but also, it’s something that you don’t need to know and is completely inappropriate to ask someone. You wouldn't ask this question to anyone else, so why ask a trans person? How does it matter to you? It barely makes any difference and it only makes the other person feel uncomfortable and awkward. Just listen to what they have to say about their gender and don't ever follow up with this question because it's not necessary.
2. Did You Have An Operation?
Even if someone has actually had surgery, this question implies that a part of that person is fake or wrong, something that can be interpreted as extremely insulting. This is a personal question and it’s a subject that many transgender people would not feel comfortable disclosing. Only if the trans person themself brings it up, should you be talking about it. Surgeries are not important to be a trans person - and whether or not someone has had a surgery doesn't change who they are.
3. What Is Your Birth Name?
For most trans people, their birth names - or "dead names" - can bring a lot of terrible memories and feelings back. It's a very sensitive issue for a trans person - asking for a dead name makes no sense anyway since you are never going to use it. That name was from their past when they were being forced to take an identity that didn’t fit them. Their name is whatever they introduce themselves as - you shouldn't care about the past.
4. How Do You Have Sex?
Don’t assume a trans-woman wouldn’t want to use her penis (if she has one) or a trans-man wouldn’t want to use his vagina (if he has one). For general purposes, sex is something that’s done between two consenting adults in private. What goes on between those two is their business. Asking how someone has sex, in any case, is plain creepy - no one needs to know that. You know you would be creeped out if someone asked you that, so why bother?
5. What Bathroom Do You Use?
The bathroom situation is a touchy issue for the trans community and asking them this question is offensive. For many trans people, the laws about bathrooms are very strict and they may be forced to use a washroom that has a label they don't identify with. Asking them to tell you which washroom they use is rude and also none of your business.
A good rule of thumb is don't ask a trans person a question you wouldn't ask someone of any other orientation and try to be polite. It's really that simple. And you always have Google to guide you through your weird, annoying or rude questions, so spare the trans person the pain.