Do We Acknowledge Each Other?
by Jude Samson
But, I’m conflicted because when I recognize someone of my community, I want to acknowledge them but at the same time I fear that I may be outing them or may trigger anxiety or other negative emotions. While I would be happy to get a knowing wink, a nod or a “hey friend,” I realize that this may be extremely difficult for others to experience.
“ACKNOWLEDGING SOMEONE AS TRANS COULD BE PERCEIVED AS THEM “NOT PASSING” WELL ENOUGH.”
Acknowledging someone as trans could be perceived as them “not passing” well enough. What gave them away? Was something “just not right” enough that allowed me to see they were a fellow trans person? What if the person/people they’re around don’t know and they’ve thus far been able to live in stealth? What if they just don’t even want to be acknowledged as being trans at all?
There are so many potential issues that could arise that could become not just embarrassing, but extremely emotionally devastating to a person. It could be especially damaging if it snaps someone back into a dysphoric state suddenly. I’ve personally experienced moments where I passed easily in society for an extended period of time and suddenly one person who seemed more astute than the rest of the world called me out as trans straight away (i.e. he clocked me). It was physically jarring and felt like that moment in movies with the “Hitchcockian” zoom effect.
“WHILE I NEVER WANT TO BE THE CAUSE FOR CREATING SOMEONE’S DYSPHORIA, I ALSO DON’T WANT TO TURN A BLIND EYE TO MY FELLOW TRANS PEOPLE.”
While I never want to be the cause for creating someone’s dysphoria, I also don’t want to turn a blind eye to my fellow trans people. If I acknowledge them in some way, would it have given them a smile? Would we have started a conversation? Maybe they were having a bad day and while they were acknowledged, it may have been just enough to know a friendly face smiled at them today and acknowledged they existed in a world that keeps trying to make us fade away and disappear.
I’d love to hear the feedback of our readership to know how you feel about being acknowledged by another trans person. I’m specifically using the word “acknowledged” here and repeatedly because in the circumstances of which I speak, I don’t feel it’s necessarily being clocked. I’m not referring to announcing to anyone around that you’re trans, just a little knowing smile/wink/nod or a “Hey there bro/sis” as some like to say to others in the community. Something subtle and between just the two of you and nothing overt, antagonizing or accusing. Do you feel that if a fellow trans person acknowledges you that it could be too dangerous or do you feel we should be free to acknowledge each other in public because we deserve to be able to communicate and engage with our community whenever we want? Perhaps it’s too soon to be too open as we’re still glaring targets? Share your thoughts and feelings. If you’d like to share input but remain anonymous, you can email your statements to firstname.lastname@example.org.