10 things about Transgender

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Brittany Poeppe | Assistant Arts + Life Editor

DSC_0015On March 7, Angus Pollock was invited to BVU to allow students to walk in a transgender man’s shoes. Angus discussed his transition from female to male, the struggles of being a transgender man in Storm Lake, and some of the positives for him and the transgender community. He opened by calling the session “Transgender 101.”

Angus hopes to be a source of information and a voice for the transgender community. After all, transgender people are people too. Here is a list of ten tips for dealing with, and opening your mind to, transgender people.

1. “If I say I’m a man, I’m a man.” If someone identifies with a certain gender, that’s how they feel. Deal with it. Gender is not binary, it’s more of a big, complicated spectrum.

2. Sexual orientation and gender identity are not the same thing. You can be a transgender man and be attracted to a woman; that doesn’t make you a straight, white male.

3. Small things that we don’t think about are big things for transgender people. Anything as simple as going into a public bathroom can be a struggle.

4. Changing your name to fit your gender can be interesting. As a former chef, Angus renamed himself “surf ‘n’ turf” (not literally) by giving himself the name “Angus Pollock” (Angus = beef & Pollock = fish).

5. Transitioning is hard. Aside from the sideways glances, triple-takes, costly medical bills, lack of insurance coverage, (in Angus’ case) second puberty, etc., transitioning is just dandy.

6. Transitioning costs money (see #6). Since insurance companies want to label transgender people in their own category, much of Angus’ insurance doesn’t cover his medical expenses. Hormones and surgeries come out of pocket.

7. Sometimes you know right away, and sometimes it takes years to figure out you’re transgender. Some kids know right away. In Angus’ case, it took about 30 years to finally, fully realize that he was a man trapped in a woman’s body.

8. Insert identifier [trans, black, Asian, blind, etc.] here. If you talk about them as a group, talk about them as people. Transgender people are humans too (see #9).

9. Transgender people are people too. They have “hopes, fears, happies, and sadness too.” Treat them like people. “I don’t affect your life by being transgender. I want to be respected as a person too,” Angus said.

10. “Yup, I’m a man.” Angus identifies as a man. Deal with it.

Bonus Tip: Here is a list of pretty invasive questions not to ask a transgender person.

* “What’s in your pants?” or “What’s the genital situation?”

* “Have you had ‘the surgery’ yet?”

* “How do you have sex?”

* “Is it real sex?”

* “Which bathroom do you use?”

Photos by Dee Friesen