2 questions actually, I hope that's ok. I'll put the question I'm more interested in first, so if this is a 1-per-customer situation, I'll get the one I want more.

1) What's with all of the "I'll be your ____!!!" (friend, mom, dad, brother, etc.)? I get the need for community, but I feel like it minimizes what people seem to be going through. For instance, someone feeling rejected by their parents, there's usually at least one or two people who chime in with "That's ok, I'm your mom now! I'm proud of you son!" And while I'm sure the support is appreciated, I think that minimizes the stress and rejection someone is experiencing. As if feeling rejected by the people who raised you for your entire life can be just shrugged off by some random stranger on the internet claiming the title of mom. Again, I'm sure the support is great and all, but it seems like a way to sidestep the issue with a platitude rather than actually engaging with the person and helping them process their feelings over the situation. Kind of like when someone's pet dies and someone else responds to the news with "Well you can just get a new one!" That's how it feels to me when I see those comments, anyway. Is there a dynamic within the trans community which I'm not aware of that accounts for this and makes it ok, or am I hitting on a valid criticism here?

2) Why does the trans community seem to use such childish language? I don't mean that the conversations or topics are childish, I mean the actual words used. Gross, icky, yummy, tummy, etc. I haven't paid close attention to who is saying it, so I'm probably not even referring to you specifically, and who knows, maybe it's just one person talking like a 6 year old all the time and I haven't noticed that it's just one person. But I'm curious if there's some kind of identified reason for that.


Evey's Response

Hey Paul,

So I’ll answer both, no worries. Or I’ll try to.

Question 1

On the first question.. The idea of family for LGBTQ folks is often much more — I’m not sure if the word “fluid” is best here or not but I’m gonna roll with that. When I was in the process of coming out whenever I expressed worries about losing my immediate family to my transition it was really common for people to tell me things like, “It’s ok, we’ll be your family.” And honestly even though I didn’t lose my father in my transition, nor my siblings, I do feel like I’ve gained so much new family that I love and adore.

And I think that’s common, there’s something about the process of coming out that causes a lot of tumult in a person’s relationships and allows for forging new and incredibly deep bonds at the same time as others are being totally shattered. There are people now who are my family that weren’t before I started transitioning.

I totally see what you’re saying about how it feels like saying that family members are hot-swappable. And I can totally see how the language supports you reaching that conclusion but I think it’s more like an expression of, “I promise you, no matter what they do or say you are going to have a family.” And I don’t feel that that’s an empty platitude.

And In some cases I’m sure the new “mom” actually really does end up being a mom figure in that person’s life like.. does it seem so strange to say that a person can be adopted into and adopt a new family later in life? Do we reserve those kinds of bonds only for the people who raised us? If someone tells me they’re my new mom now, and from then on I’m at every holiday dinner, getting nagged about not calling enough, and all going back to her for support, etc., etc., does that not also sound like a mom?

So I guess when it comes to “I’m your new mom now” or whatever, I’m sure like many statements of support it’s sometimes hollow, but I bet a lot of the time it is really a genuine offer of that level of support. If someone had genuinely offered me a place in their family as I was coming out.. I know that would have meant the world to me.

Question 2

I’m gonna keep this one shorter like.. ok so of the words on that list I actually do use the word “gross” often, so now I feel self conscious about that — thanks. I’d never considered gross a particularly infantile word though so maybe it is YOU who is in the wrong here.

It seems like you have some specific instances of this that you’re remembering but I don’t so I’m just gonna be general and hope what I say is informative.

I know there’s a certain impulse in trans people to, for one reason or another, revisit things from their youth that they didn’t get to experience. A lot of us feel really bitter about the experiences we were robbed of as a trans child, right? There is an empty place in my heart that feels like I was supposed to be filled with sleepovers and prom dresses and other feminine rites of passage that I’ll never have. I know that feeling is fairly normal. I think some people attempt to salve that wound by using younger sounding language that they never really got to play around with as a child. I don’t begrudge them that, but also I haven’t really ever heard that happen outside of some online message boards, chat rooms, and Facebook. And let’s be real, folks aren’t realistically representing themselves online very much, we all play a persona on the internet.

And on that note there’s also a sub-class of meme language that uses infantile words for some really dark stuff (like this) and trans culture is just steeped in memes so I’m sure there’s some overlap there. Idk. Personally this makes me laugh — if only for the juxtaposition.

And just kinda while the trans community isn’t really all that monolithic that we’d say this kinda language is super common like.. I spend a lot of time talking to trans folks and offering support and one of the communities I’m in is 18,000 people strong, many of whom are trans, right? This language is not at all common there. So I’m not sure where you’re seeing this crop up but I don’t think this kind of language is something I’d ascribe to the trans community writ large. That’d be gross.

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