Oh, HAY, it me, nearly 40 vs me at 14 or so. I’m Cuban-American and neuroatypical. Didn’t start transition til I was 33, and wow was being closeted rough.
So. It’s Transgender Day of Visibility and a lot of folks are going to be sharing their transition pics. Please, please, please resist the urge to tell them they were attractive before.
Speaking from experience: for transmasculine folks, “but you’re such a pretty girl” is constantly trotted out to discourage us from transitioning. As if our only value is in how attractive we look. (And as if there isn’t a shit-ton of misogyny behind valuing women and perceived women only for their looks and treating their appearance as an issue of public consumption rather than personal expression/fulfillment.)
I found only trauma in being told how pretty my girl costume was, because pretending to be cis only brought me pain. Every fight over clothes, makeup, hair, etc. was a night I cried myself to sleep. And I cried a LOT in those days, even if people didn’t see it.
We trans folk have an uncomfortable relationship with being told we’re attractive by cis people. Because “attractive” is almost always code for “cis-passing”. Because, for trans women, their attractiveness is overwhelmingly tied to being objectified as a sexual fetish. Because, for non-binary and non-transitioning people, they still aren’t being told they are valuable and loved.
Here’s the thing, cis friends: transition photos really aren’t for *you*. We share the documentation of our transition as a way to give ourselves and other trans people hope. “Passing” is overwhelmingly an issue of safety, and any joy at putting some of our dysphoric demons to rest is clouded by all these messages that we’re finally “acceptable” to a cis audience.
Transition photos are photos of SURVIVAL. Transition photos document RECOVERY FROM TRAUMA. Just… just think about that.
By all means, tell trans people they are attractive (we do need to hear it from time to time, same as everyone else), but go beyond the obsession with what we used to look like. If you want to know more about transition, Google it, the same way we all had to. Engage with trans folks on their other strengths and talents. That will go much further to signify your allyship.