My son Mataya posted this courageous and insightful video to help folks understand many of the issues a transgender person has to deal with. I am proud of him. He deserves love and respect. He certainly has mine.
Please read Mataya’s facebook post and, most of all, watch his video.
I want to say thank you again for all the support and for the questions. Hope I answered them! Please keep fighting for the Trans community now more than ever. Love you all 💙💗
***also please go find other trans people/gender non conforming people with way more experience, knowledge, and totally different perspectives than me!!! This is mostly just for people in my life from me but there is so much more to be learned from such cool people 😘
Thank you to those who asked me questions! The point of this was to gauge curiosity while also offering the people in my life answers to hopefully better understand me/the Trans community. I asked you to ask me anything, knowing I would get questions that were problematic, that was a huge part in why I did it, to help define what is appropriate and what’s not. Almost daily I am put into conversations about gender and I got tired of repeating myself and of being asked invasive/awkward questions. A lot of questions I received had issues in either content, vocabulary, or various other things. I tried to point out as much as I could while honestly answering your questions. This is not to scold anyone, I did this was to run a very small study on how these questions are communicated. The problem is deep rooted in the rhetoric we use about gender. This should not discourage you from asking questions/discussing gender, but rather encourage you to change the way you approach it and open your mind to being made aware of areas you could improve. The more conversation the better! The other important thing to note is I do not speak for any person CIS or Trans except myself. Each person’s experience is individual, this is just one humble Trans opinion.
ME SPECIFIC QUESTIONS
What are your pronouns?
He/him/his. I’m a boy!
When/how did you know?
This is a loaded question. I’m not one of those people who can say they knew all along. Gender wasn’t something I thought about consciously, but looking back there were a lot of clues and a lot was put into perspective for me after I made the realization. Of course I always felt different, but I never really went on a quest to find the answer. One day the answer came to me like I was handed the last piece of a puzzle I didn’t know I was solving. Suddenly my whole life started to make sense. I can’t explain exactly how it happened, I had been struggling, then I had a night of clarity. Not that the struggle ended there, but at least I knew what I was fighting for.
Were you always trans/did you always know you were a boy/did you ever identify as a girl?
Like I said, it was very subconscious. I never felt like a girl because I’m not a girl. I felt like a person who was lost, confused, and put in a lot of situations that felt extremely wrong. I lived a life of discomfort, but it didn’t occur to me to consider gender as the source of it. But the same way a gay person was always gay, I guess you could say I was always trans. I was always a person and when I came out I figured out what kind of person I was, that’s the way I like to put it.
How did you come out? How did everyone take it?
I came out fully over the span of about a year and a half (ish). Coming out is never linear and it is very hard to attest to how well it was received. Each person I told had their own process of understanding and accepting the news and each conversation was full of complexities and an abundance of emotions. On the other side of coming out, I will admit I lost some people, but also luckily gained a village of support. As Trans experiences go, I was very well accepted. This isn’t easy for anyone and the process needs to be full of understanding, patience, and empathy from both sides. To anyone who has supported me through this coming out process: thank you, I love you. I don’t believe in spilling the gory details, I think it’s disrespectful to my loved ones and is a bit too personal to be general knowledge, the gist of it is:
When I was a sophomore in highschool, I came out to my girlfriend at the time the day after I realized it for myself. She was beyond understanding and for a while only she knew, but I decided I would want to be fully out in college. After a couple days at school came out completely and started to go by male pronouns. I told my family members one by one as I felt comfortable and did the same with my friends back in LA, but to everyone in NY I was a boy (once they got the memo). By the end of my freshman year, I had told my whole family and then made it Facebook official. The rest is history.
How has your transition affected your relationships? Past, present, future? Specifically romanticly.
Coming out changes thing, but I believe ultimately for the better. I lost some friends and this type of thing weighs on any family, but nothing that didn’t happen for a reason or eventually result in more honest relationships. Anyone in my life now understands me, my gender, and gender as a concept enough for it not to be an issue and if one arises, I do my best to use that patience, empathy, and understanding I mentioned before and go from there. As for any future relationships, I hold them to the same bar. I must admit, I hold new people to a higher standard in terms of pronouns. If you didn’t know me before, it shouldn’t be a struggle for you to gender me correctly. That shows a lack of understanding of gender and of me as a person and does make me feel unconformable. I can tell when someone avoids gendering me, struggles with my pronouns, or uses them, but still see’s me as female. It is okay to avoid pronouns if you don’t know somebody’s (in my opinion, better to use “they”), but once you know my pronouns you should use them as freely as you would a CIS person’s. This does affect new relationships and I don’t consider anyone who struggles to gender me as a true friend. As for romantic relationships, since I have come out I have had fulfilling, honest, and beautiful connections now that I can be my true self. It takes a tremendous amount of love, trust, respect, and about a million other things to make any relationship work, but I think it took a little extra especially when I was just coming out, so I’m lucky to have had extraordinary people in my life. I also happen to have the most amazing/supportive girlfriend in the world (Hi, Kerri).
Have your girlfriends known you were trans?
Since I came out, yup! They’ve all known I’m their boyfriend. Kinda hard to keep a secret.
What is your sexuality and the sexuality of those you’ve been with?
I get this a lot in real life and it’s not really an appropriate question to ask anyone who you don’t know well and usually when I answer people get really confused. I’m straight. YUP! I know a lot of you thought I was a lesbian for a while, so this seems super weird, but I’m a boy who likes girls so I’m straight. As for the women I’ve dated, I’m not going to disclose their sexualities, but some identified as queer, some did not. I mean, I am straight after all. I must stress GENDER DOES NOT EQUAL SEXUALITY AND VISE VERSA.
What is the sexuality of someone who is attracted to a transman?
Whatever you damn well please! If you’re attracted to a transman, you could be straight, gay, bi, pan, queer, poly, ect, ect. If you’re attracted to trans men it means you’re attracted to a boy and the only other way it applies to sexuality I guess is that boy might not have a penis and you have to decide if that’s cool with you. It’s all personal and case by case.
Are you going to change your name?
No plans to, but it’s something I’ve thought about. If I do, I’ll let ya know.
What medical steps have you taken so far?
I’m not medically transitioned, but this an example of a type of question that isn’t appropriate to ask a trans person, especially if you don’t know them well. Medically transitioning is a tricky and often a sensitive subject, not to be casually discussed and isn’t anyone’s business. Remember, you don’t update me on your medical history or plans, why should I?
How many times a day to you get misgendered? Is it by friends, family, or strangers?
I don’t keep track, but a lot. It’s from everyone. Friends who mess up, strangers who don’t know better, and well meaning people of all kinds. It happens from everyone from people who should really know better to waiters to people on the street asking for directions to the dentist to family to Portugal and back. It’s an ongoing issue and process. Some days are better than others. And some misgendering situations are worse than others.
What should I do if I misgender you or someone else?
*This one could be really different depending on the person. I will give you my advice/my ideal, but understand my word is not oak, and the best thing you can do is ask people case by case how they would like to handle this situation and what you can do to help.*
If you misgender me in front of me, acknowledge it and correct yourself. I’m not asking for an apology, just retract and restate. If you use female pronouns, repeat the sentence with my correct pronouns. ESPECIALLY if we are surrounded by people who I don’t know or you are introducing me to someone because then not only did you misgender me, it is almost guaranteed the others will too. While on that topic, when you are introducing me, use my pronouns as much as possible or if you think the person isn’t picking up on it say “by the way, Mataya is a boy and goes by he/him/his pronouns” (maybe not in front of me because that’s kind of awkward, but I guess in front of me if you have to, it’s not offensive to say my gender and pronouns). It is simple for you, but incredibly hard and taxing for me and I will appreciate it so much. Thank you in advance or thanks for a time you already did that!
If you misgender me and I’m not there, please also correct yourself and make sure when you speak of me you are using my correct pronouns both out of respect and to not confuse other people.
If you misgender someone else, I don’t know what that person would like. I am a fan of correcting yourself with an optional apology if you see it fit (multiple times or unideal moments probably warrant an apology).
What do I do if you or someone else is misgendered in front of me? (both when they are present and not present)
Correcting is the name of the game. In front of the person, I know myself and some of my trans friends are a fan of you either flat out reminding them of the person’s pronouns or overly using the person’s correct pronouns. Example: “Mataya’s around here somewhere, where’d she go?” “HE went to the outside because HE wanted to show us HIS new toy HE got with HIS Toy’s R US gift card.” Catch my drift? If they’re not present for the misgendering, please the remind people of their pronouns and hold them accountable to use them in the future/try to have a conversation about it.
Do you get upset when people misgender you?
Of course. I try to be understanding, but I’m human and it hurts. Misgendering happens when you don’t see a person as the gender they are. If you use female pronouns for me, it is undeniable that you don’t see me as male. Sometimes it’s habit and sometimes you’re working on it, but the root still the same. Not only do female pronouns hit my ear wrong and hurt to hear, it’s that I know whoever is talking to me thinks they’re speaking to a woman. This makes me feel incredibly unsafe, uncomfortable, and will prohibit us from having an honest conversation/connection. If we’ve known each other a while and the pronouns are an adjustment, I’m much more understanding, but it means you guys have a lot more work to do in terms of rewiring your brain. Misgendering is the bulk of what I deal with and I could write essays about it, what it feels like, how to deal with it, how to avoid it, so possibly more on this later. If you have more questions about this, please reach out.
Have you been bullied?
Yes and yes because I was trans.
What sort of bigotry do you deal with in a day?
What you would expect, misgendering/transphobia/gender roles/lots of staring/when me and my girlfriend walk down the street people almost get in car accidents staring/ect/ect.
What can I do to support you?
Thank you! Reading this is a huge help. Universally: have conversations with other trans people, do research, correct people who misgender people, follow trans/non binary people and other types of activists on social media, be aware of the rhetoric you’re speaking with, be aware of what gender roles/stereotypes you’re enforcing, call people out, use they/them pronouns for people who’s pronouns you don’t know, the list on how to be an ally goes on. Most important thing is to stay informed, stand up for people when you can, rethink and reimagine gender, use correct pronouns, and be open to criticism of your “wokeness”;we all have something to learn. To just me: understand I’m really going through it. This is probably the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do and I have to do it all day everyday. There’s a lot going on with me, it’s very complicated, and personal. If I seem off, unfriendly, or am in anyway showing you a bad side of me, I really appreciate when people can put my situation into perspective. Not that that should let me off the hook, but to shed a little light on the situation.
Does saying things like “hey girl” offend you?
Anything you would say to a CIS boy you can say to me. But maybe stay away from gendered greetings and such just like in general? And to be completely honest it will make my misgendering antenna go off a little out of habit. And doesn’t feel great. So ,yeah maybe don’t, but it’s not a capital offense.
Did you identify as anything before trans? What was your process/how did you decide trans male was what fit?
When I was in high school I was pretty well known as a lesbian, but that didn’t fit for obvious reasons. I considered possibly if I identified as non binary, but in the end, I’m just a boy and when you know you know.
What is the biggest mistake we can make as allies/what are some things that you deal with the most from friends and family that you wish wouldn’t happen?
Misgendering/lack of information/lack of understanding. A great thing for allies to know is being trans is so much more than surgery and hormones and that stuff is NO ONE’S BUSINESS. A lot of people are very misguided still about gender and talk about it in the wrong way. You must do your part, your research, or at the very least really listen and ask appropriate questions at the appropriate times. Part of the reason I did this was I was receiving an insane amount of requests for me to get incredibly deep and personal with people in my life I hardly knew. It is unfair to expect me to open up about these issues or be your teacher especially in social or professional settings. Just because I am queer does not mean my life, my process, or any personal information should be available for another person’s gain. Talking about this is sensitive and hard, it is not party talk or ran into you on the subway talk. Also try not to ask Trans people questions that google can answer for you. Wanna know about surgery? Google! That’s the way we learned our information too.
This was most of the questions I got. Not ever ever ever ever EVER okay to ask a trans person, close or not. You let me bring that up if I’d like to talk to you about it.
What can people do to make you feel comfortable/accepted as your gender?
Treat me like a boy! Don’t make it complicated or uncomfortable. Commenting on or staring at my body makes me uncomfortable and having an awareness of that is helpful. Find the right time to ask questions, the right place, and the right questions. Make sure questions are to help you have an understanding, not to hear a sob story or feel like you’re gossiping. Make sure if you were asked the question, would you be comfortable?
GENERAL TRANS QUESTIONS
What do you think about the term “they”? Do you think there should be a gender neutral, simple pronoun? Have you talked to other trans people about it?
One of my best friends uses they/them pronouns. The idea that there are only two genders is what doesn’t make sense to me and nonbinary people are almost always ignored, overlooked, and denied which breaks my heart. People who have a problem with the grammar or syntax or whatever of it need to get over it and respect people’s pronouns. It doesn’t have to resonate with you for it to be real. There are other gender neutral pronouns such as ze/hir, but people also need to learn to respect they/them!
**If you’re struggling with it, I have in the past told people to get a stuffed animal and use they/them pronouns for it. It’s really helpful in rewiring your brain.**
“So the other day I was talking to my sister about transgender-ness and she has trouble wrapping her head around what the importance of changing your gender is if gender isn’t really a thing in the first place. I get that gender is important and that it is immensely frustrating to feel like your gender identity is not represented by your sexual anatomy or your outward appearance, but I found it difficult to explain since I do believe that gender is a construct and boys are allowed to do girl things and vice versa (though it isn’t always embraced-but being transgender isn’t always embraced either so it doesn’t really solve that issue either). I’m curious as to how you’d respond to someone struggling to understand the importance of having anatomy match how you feel, especially someone who has never really thought her feelings are related to her gender if that makes sense.”
So this question is full of a lot of things. It would be a really interesting conversation to have and I think I understand the root question. I have also wrestled with this issue. I think gender is make believe, so why am I trans? Why do I put myself through this if I think its all fake? And the answer essentially is: because it’s way more complicated than that. We created gender, it’s true, but we live in a world where our world runs around it. A world where gender was constantly thrown in my face and what people were hurling at me didn’t fit at all. We as humans need labels and categories that’s why we created gender, sexuality, ect. No matter what, we all wanna be able to explain what we are. And though it is complicated and might not even be a real concept the label I fit with is boy. But I think boy as a much broader spectrum than the typical gender binary covers. To me, boy doesn’t mean short hair or sports or pants. It could mean hair to your knees, sewing as a main hobby, a dress and full face makeup. We made up the term, so make up your deffinition and you’ll fit right in. I guess what I’m trying to say is when it fits it fits. For me it is also much less about the pronouns and more about the understanding of a person. We understand men and women differently and if that wasn’t true, I wouldn’t be Trans. It’s the extremely complicated, intricate, and contradictory way of the world.
How do people decide whether to undergo gender confirmation surgery? How many choose not to? How does that play out in the LGBTQ community?
This is an extremely personal decision and is different for everyone. You don’t have to go through any medical transition to be trans and a lot of people choose not to have surgery whether it be for monetary, identity, or tons of other reasons. It’s person to person!
What can I do as a parent to make my children aware as well as open gender up for exploration and support them if they discover they too are trans?
Already amazing that you’re thinking of this! Try not to enforce gender roles, let them dress how it makes them happy even from a young age, don’t separate things by gender if you can (ex: all girls/boys party), don’t gender unnecessary things (clothes, activities, TV shows, colors, etc.) and probably lots of other things. Have open conversations with your kids about gender and how they feel and listen to them. If they say something, trust them. Don’t remind them of other identities or remind them of their age, they will come to their own conclusions in their own time. But trust they know themselves best and take it from there! If your kid does come out, believe them, love them, tell them you’re proud of them, tell them they turned out how you wanted, and make sure you mean it. Do your research, make sure you are both in therapy if you can afford it and if you can’t try your best to find an LGBTQ+ center near you that will offer similar services and then have a lot more open conversations. Let it be a journey, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride!
What can we do to be more trans friendly?
Research! Use people’s pronouns! Accept that their are more than two genders! Think about your own gender! Notice how gender is everywhere! Think about things through a Trans perspective! Talk about trans things! Read! Follow Trans/NB/GNC/prominent allies on social media! Reach out to me if you need help/ideas, it’s not over stepping if I’m offering, just make sure you know the basic info we talked about above. 🙂
Thank you SO much for reading this, for asking questions, and for being in my life. If you have any more questions, here is a link https://www.suggestionox.com/r/56w4sJ . Feel free to message me as well!