Trans etiquette: how bad is this?

To be clear from the start, I didn’t do this. I just happened to be in the room when somebody else did it.

I was at a social gathering today. It’s a group of people that get together on a regular basis. We were having a conversation and the name of somebody who wasn’t present came up. In discussing this person somebody said “I’ve known Jane since back when she was John.” (Obviously, Jane and John are not the real names.)

As it happens, I’ve also known Jane for several years and I also knew her back when she was John. And one other person who was present knew her from before she transitioned. But I think most people there met Jane after she transitioned. I don’t know how many of them knew she used to be a man.

As I said, Jane was not present and I didn’t want to make an issue out of it. But I felt it was a major faux pas to needlessly refer to her previous life that. Am I correct? Is “outing” a trans person seriously wrong? Or is it no big deal?

I really don’t know how to answer this. It’s probably somewhat rude, or in bad form to have done so, but human nature is what it is.

To me, it seems inevitable that at some point people will somehow come to know that Jane was once John. I wonder what Una would think of this question?

It ranks very high on the “shit you should NOT do” list. Sadly, many people have prejudices against trans people. People get fired, beaten up or even killed over it.

It should be up to themselves wether they choose to reveal it, and not for any random schmuck for a good story.

Why should we pretend the past never happened?

You remember that pass John caught for the winning touch down? He helped us win the state championship that year.

A person’s previous accomplishments and life can still be celebrated and remembered.

AFAIK Caitlyn hasn’t renounced the Gold Medals that Bruce won. It’ll be interesting to see how she handles interview requests about the 1976 Olympics. The 40th anniversary was last year.

Just throwing it out there - Caitlyn is the last person you should be looking to as an example of how transwomen expect to be treated. She’s extremely wealthy and famous, and she flaunts her privilege constantly. She’s utterly out of touch with the struggles of transwomen who don’t have an 8-figure net worth.

As for the OP, there’s a thing called “deadnaming”. That’s what the person above did. It’s generally seen less as a faux pas “oopsie” and more as an act of violence. This seems to be well-meant, but they still shouldn’t have. A better way to put it would be “I knew X before they transitioned”, and only if they are out and want people to know, which they often don’t.

EDIT: stupid forum software

I know for sure that outing anyone is a big deal, to the point that I’ve gotten into arguments with people who claim that even outing a homophobic lawmaker is wrong. They genuinely believe outing anyone for any reason is wrong.

Even if they don’t go that far, everyone agreed that outing someone for no reason was wrong, and this applied to any form of outing.

And, yes, Cailtyn Jenner is very atypical. She’s the rare trans woman who was famous as a man, and thus decided to out herself in public. It’s not the same for people who aren’t famous.

Trans people still face discrimination, and it is wrong to make them face that discrimination without their consent.

So the past should be tossed down the memory hole and now words can be “violence.” Why do so many people today (both left and right) think that 1984 is an instruction manual?

If it is done on purpose to hurt, it can be as unacceptable as any other words.

You are missing my point–“violence” is physical. Words are not violence, and anyone hyperbolicly claiming that they are is beclowning themselves.

Would “an attack” be more acceptable language to you, o Lord and Master of the dictionary?

“Verbal violence” is not some novel PC concept, I’ve heard it used for decades. Violence is not linited to brute force.

OTOH even lacking intent to hurt it can still be offensive language and create a hostile environment.

Whether to use the term “violence” in that case is a different argument ISTM as to whether the OP case is ever appropriate or tolerable.

IMO the disconnect for some about what they view as awkwardly retconning the person’s identity will probably stay with the older generation for a long while and we’ll have to settle for deeds v. words judgment.

Oh, and yeah, Jenner’s an outlier on so many fronts she’s not really great as the “face” of trans.

Oh, and…

“We” meaning outside observers. The trans community of course has the last word on how they judge it.

Only if it was intended to do harm.

Maybe the term “nanoagression” is still available. Or if not, “picoagression.”

**The problem is that outing someone as trans can get them beaten or killed. ** It can cause them to lose their livelihood. When words can have those sorts of effects and consequences then yes, you must be very careful how you use them.

It doesn’t apply to Jenner because Jenner is (in addition to being rich and famous) out in a very, very public way. EVERYONE knows Jenner is a transwoman and a lot of us wish she’d STFU about it.

It doesn’t apply so much to a handful of other publicly out transgender people, which are a very, very rare situation, I mean, we all know Una Persson here is a transwoman so speaking about knowing her pre-transition or that she is a transwoman on this forum is OK. However, if I was going somewhere with her in real life in public I’d follow her lead - I wouldn’t mention it unless she brought it up first. If we were on a different internet forum I wouldn’t mention it until she brought it up first, if at all. Her medical history is her business.

But that doesn’t address Darren’s point that words are not violence. Why is it inadequate to make the point clearly with words that mean what they usually mean: deadnaming is an extreme social faux pas; many people don’t realize that outed trans people are not just subject to social prejudice and verbal abuse, but are at great risk of violence and murder.

Why is it inadequate to just say that? If an article headlines with the doublespeak “words are violence”, some may roll their eyes and not even get as far into the article to understand the point that trans people are frequently the targets of actual violence and murder. And the doublespeak “words are violence” implies that somebody who is thoughtless or careless with words in outing a trans person is as bad as someone who is actually violent.

I wasn’t thinking so much about “outing” someone as much as the idea that anyone ever acknowledging that someone once had a different name and/or outwardly appeared a different gender is “committing violence.” It sure sounds like “we have always been at war with Eastasia.”

What is it with people on these boards who don’t know the English language well and go on to insist that one really specific definition of a word is the only one that people can use? And especially going to the extreme to claim people using a definition of a word that’s been around for centuries are somehow trying to destroy the past? If anyone is engaged in 1984-style historical revisionism in this thread, it’s you Darren Garrison. Words as a form of violence has been a valid figure of speech for longer than you’ve even been alive, as even a cursory look online will show.

Learn the fucking language or stop trying to tell people they’re using words incorrectly when they’re not.


This is pretty much the way I look at it. Jane isn’t going to get fired or beaten up or killed over this. We’re a pretty non-aggressive group. But there probably will be gossip about it behind her back. And people may treat Jane differently now.

As for the guy who said it, I feel his motivation was pretty much gossip. He knew a secret about Jane that other people didn’t know so he revealed it.

But that’s not the issue at all. Nobody is objecting to the bona fide figurative use of the word violent. The problem arises when words are treated as actually equivalent to real violence.

In the linked article, it’s simply hyperbole. I’m certainly not disputing the impact of words for trans people, or the seriousness of the consequences of deadnaming.

But treating words as literally equivalent to violence is a recurrent theme on the radical left, and it sometimes has more sinister aspects among the more illiberal elements. The code words for the suppression of speech that they don’t agree with are the it “makes people feel unsafe”.