Cis Friends are Often Exhausting for a Trans Person — Here’s Why
I have a confession to make. Sometimes, I just need a break from cis people.
Most of my best, closest, dearest, sweetest friends are cisgender.
But that doesn’t stop me from feeling pain from their well-intentioned words harpooning me in the gut.
One of my close friends who lives in the same city as me feels very passionate about social justice concerns in our community. She is a white gay woman who, in the past, often spent her times at town halls, NAACP meetings, counter protests at white supremacist rallies, and volunteering to teach other women self defense. She has a huge heart, and is one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.
She also has a tendency to process her “rage” at anti-trans rhetoric she witnesses in her life. My friend often heads diversity trainings at her work, so she hears a lot of ignorant statements.
As a trans person, I am well aware that people hate me for no reason whatsoever, aside from the fact that I am trans. I am also aware that I am relatively well insulated in the trans community as a white transmasculine person who often “flies under the radar” when I’m out and about. Living in a transphobic society is often, if not usually, far worse for other trans people than it is for me. But having unsolicited reminders of how others may perceive us as inferior still really, really hurts.
“I can’t believe what Jessica/Amanda/Steven/Thomas said today,” she begins. I steel myself for the oncoming exposure to some transphobic shit that I didn’t ask for. “THEY said that trans people’s hormone REPLACEMENT therapy shouldn’t be covered by INSURANCE!” she’ll declare with an indignant huff.
I do appreciate her vexation. What I don’t appreciate is her having to tell me, specifically, that someone at work said something shitty about trans people today — especially because I never hear her tell stories like this to mutual (read: cisgender) friends. While she has recently taken to asking me first before sharing a gross anecdote, she is visibly and audibly disappointed when I decline. She assumes that I want to hear, or maybe even that I’m obligated to hear, about a trans person being slighted in order to give her the opportunity to signal her allyship to me.