Meeting a transgendered person after having met him previously

I think that sort of thing one would only bring up after really getting to know the person well and knowing if it is complimentary without being potentially distressing.

“You’re looking great! Have you lost weight?”

Do you have any advice Una?

The one time it’s come up in conversation for me, it was with a guy who I hadn’t seen in about ten years, back when he presented as her. Her girlfriend lived in my building at the time. When I was reintroduced to him a few years back, I realized we’d met before, and asked, “Hey! Didn’t you date Mary who lived on Main St. a while ago? I think we used to go to some of the same parties.”

“Yeah! Oh, dude, Rabbit!”

“Bro! Let’s do a shot!”

We then proceeded to get wasted together and shot the shit about ex-girlfriends. Much to the annoyance of both of our current girlfriends.

It sounds like a horrible idea. Said person might not be out yet. Also, you don’t know what their experience was like growing up – perhaps they tried to supress it, or hide it. Either way, telling someone, “oh yeah, it was totally obvious you were trans” isn’t going to go over very well.

“I love what you’ve done with your…uh…”

In general, you probably don’t want to use male pronouns, even when you’re talking about her in a time when you thought she was a man (as in the OP).

Other than that, don’t say anything about it, unless she brings it up as a subject of conversation.

I declare myself convinced that my suggestion was stupid and poorly thought out.

Not advice, but I’m surprised. From what I know of your family situation, you should have a bit of exposure and experience to this whole thing by now, yes?

A bit. I just wanted to bounce it off some other people.

Anyway, it turns out she won’t be there now.

The pronoun the person currently uses is appropriate.

In general, to think through ways of referring somebody who has transitioned, it can be useful to use as a model how we refer to somebody who has changed their name because of changing marital status. You use their current name, even when referring to the past. To keep using their past name is to refuse to acknowledge that their marital status changed, like you think they should not have gotten married or divorced. You might refer to the earlier name if it’s necessary for the story (“People would ask if she was related to the president because her name was Clinton back then”) but if you don’t need to refer to the name, well, don’t. It’s called “deadnaming” for a reason.

As far as a few of us in a trans advocacy group could figure out, there aren’t any situations where this nomenclature analogy will steer you wrong. The linguistic logic works similarly.

Now, pronouns don’t change with marital status, so you have to extend the logic. But perhaps “Miss” versus “Mrs.” provides a closer test case.


How does this work in practice? People put a huge amount of focus on getting pronouns right, but I can’t think of a single situation where I would talk about someone in the third person in their presence, so why would pronouns even get used?

Say nothing. This is a person you barely know, you don’t really have any meaningful history with her, and she’s fully aware you two met before she transitioned. I’ve been in a similar boat to you except it was a childhood friend whom I had known for many years. We talked about it and even joked a little but I had a different relationship with this person than you do with yours. Say nothing. Don’t sweat it.

Anyone have further thoughts on how to deal with the issue if the transitioning person is a family member one doesn’t see very often? Still need to figure out to deal with it the next time I see my cousin’s kid (who is 20-something and currently in grad school overseas, so it may be a while before it comes up). It was fine the last time - there were hugs and pleasantries, and that was about that.

Honestly she (at least still using feminine pronouns as far as I know - had just had top surgery) seemed a lot more relaxed than the previous time I had seen her, when she had waist-length hair and was living with a man.

I have, at least once, said “It is great to see you again! You look so happy!”
Because they did. Despite whatever my employer thinks, I do not always know what to say in any given situation, but when someone I know has made a life journey to a positive place, especially when I know it was not easy, I want to notice and acknowledge that.

You and another person are talking, and the other person tells a good joke. A third person overhears, and asks what’s so funny. You say, “He was just telling me about this time he was in Mexico.”

You and another person are chatting, and they set their drink down. The host, thinking the drink is unattended, starts to clean it up, but you stop them. “That’s hers, I don’t think she’s done with it.”

And so forth.