How to Compliment Trans Women | Stef Sanjati
Hello little buns! It is Stef, welcome back to my home. The title of this video might seem kind of unnecessary or self-serving or just plain odd, but this is actually something that has a lot that can be said about it I find very often and so just pretty much every other trans person, at least trans feminine people, that when people compliment us Sometimes it verges into a territory that's very insulting and condescending It's 9 times out of 10 not intentional, and you know that doesn't mean it hurts any less so I want to address some of the common examples that I've experienced and Break them down and explain why they are not so good to say. I'm going to be talking about my experiences specifically as a trans woman But this could really apply to any group of people that is unlike you that you are trying to compliment You know when you are trying to make friends with somebody Or trying to get on their good side or trying to compliment them, try to remember the things that I talked about here Because it's very easy to verge into a territory That's not very nice when you're trying to be kind So I went to Twitter to ask some you know trans women and trans femme folks What are some common Backhanded compliments you get so you can know that these are not things that only I have experienced that these are common Experiences for trans people. So the very first one on the list to the very top tweet And it's the one that I've gotten a lot is "Your makeup is so much better than mine" in like a surprised way Why are you surprised that your makeup is not as good as mine? I went to school for this. I don't understand. When people are surprised that a trans woman has a nice makeup, it implies that you think they should be inherently less skilled than you because they are trans.
Which is not there's no vali-. There's no vali- like there's no validity to that There's no validity to that. They- they imply that It- oh- It almost implies "Your makeup is so much better than mine And I'm a girl" and I've actually heard it like that too. Which straight-up implies that I'm a man, Which is false. So that is a very easy one to steer clear of, I believe, is "Your makeup is so much better than mine" Like why is that shocking? That should not be shocking.
Many people have better makeup than you. Many people have better makeup than me I'm not saying I'm some kind of makeup god, but anytime you compliment somebody like that it implies that you feel They should be lesser than you, which is not cute. Okay? Cuz you shouldn't feel that about anybody Except for maybe Nazis, you know? Another really common one on this list is "You're so pretty, I couldn't even tell you were trans" This is pretty bad I mean, I know you're trying to say "Oh you pass" but that implies that trans women that don't pass are lesser then trans women that do. It also implies that our entire goal in life is to pass to look like you. It also implies that trans women should be inherently ugly or unattractive. It implies a lot of things. When you say "I can't believe you're trans because you're pretty", It implies that trans people, in your eyes, are monstrous or hideous or ugly or unattractive or beasts.
Like it- There's a lot that goes along with that. So next time you think you want to say "Oh, I couldn't tell you were trans, you're so pretty" think- Think about the implications of that. For a lot of us especially in the younger generation of trans people We do not take pleasure in knowing That we're better than- than- than other trans people that, you know, that there's some kind of scale that we fall upon, and if we're on this side we're good, and this side is like bad and trashy. That isn't cute. We don't like that. That's not good.
If you throw other trans women under the bus to compliment me You're not complimenting me, you're throwing me under the bus because at some point I wasn't "pretty" or I wasn't "passing" and that implies that at one point you thought that I was lesser It's so- There's so much happening, But the bottom line is if you have to put somebody else down to raise somebody else up, you're not complimenting somebody It's just bad. Don't do it. Don't do it Another example here that I personally haven't experienced, But I'm sure it has- It kind of branches out. "Someone made a list of women they were grateful for, then included me, a trans Woman, on a separate list of trans/non-binary people they were grateful for." There is a common belief that trans women are a separate gender from women And I see where they're coming from, but it's just not real. Some people might be comfortable with that, but I can tell you nine out of ten trans women are probably going to feel really alienated by that. I am a woman because I am a woman. Period. I'm not a trans woman because "I was a man and now I'm a woman", because I was never a man.
That's not how this works I have been female since birth because I'm a woman inside Anything on the outside of my body that was once different has no bearing on my gender Because that's just not the way it works I could go on forever about this And I don't want you to feel like I'm being Condescending if this is something that you don't have a lot of knowledge on But the bottom line is trans women are women. Trans is an adjective. It's a descriptor of the kind of woman I am. It does not mean I'm a different gender Just like "tall woman" or "short woman" or "muscular woman" are not different categories of women, You would not make a list called "Women I'm grateful for" and then another list called "Tall women I'm grateful for" because they're women, They would just be included in that list. So you know, just keep in mind That sometimes you might imply that trans women are a different gender than women And that's just not- that's not accurate and I can tell you from experience when that has been implied to me, It just makes me feel incredibly misunderstood and unwanted.
You know if I'm hanging out with somebody and they imply that I'm not a woman, it just makes me feel incredibly like "You don't know me" You know what I mean? "Why am I here?" So just remember that, I guess? Gosh. There's another one that keeps popping up a lot in this Twitter conversation And that is "You look better than I do" and sometimes this is accompanied by a sad face or a confused face This is a lot like the first one where it's like "You do better makeup than me, and I'm a girl" But this one is almost more insidious Because it doesn't imply that just we should be less skilled with makeup, which might have some kind of statistical, you know, Argument because you know maybe a lot of us start later than cis women which, you know, I started when I was 12, which is earlier than most cis women, but you know I don't- that's not a blanket statement- But this one straight up implies that "Because you were trans, you should be less attractive than cis women" Period. As if there's not a thousand million infinite variations of what a cis woman can look like, just like a trans woman. Why is it that we are considered lower on a Hierarchy of attractiveness based on things that are not genitals. It's- that's just- it's incredibly- That's Incredibly mean to say and I know a lot of people don't mean it that way, but they're not thinking about the person they're trying to compliment, the thing about themselves and they're comparing Themselves to somebody else, bringing themselves down and bringing the other person down. There's no productivity in a compliment like that There is no benefit to saying "You look better than I do" sad face Because that implies that you are ugly and it implies that I am ugly, and neither of those statements are true.
Okay? Cool Thanks. Oh...oh here's a good one there- Oh my god. A lot of people, when they're introducing trans people to other folks, Maybe not face to face But you know for example if a friend of mine from high school is showing their family my YouTube channel They might say "She used to be a guy, but look at her now" *Sharp inhale* Okay, I was never a guy I just didn't understand that I was a woman. That does not mean that I wasn't a woman and I understand the misunderstanding, I do. I really understand the misunderstanding and that's why I want to talk about this. Trans women are women, just like I said before. I don't really like the term MTF even, male to female, because it implies I was once male.
It implies I was once a dude and that's just not true. It's not true. I've always been a woman I'm just happier now because I'm actually being myself This is no different from a cis woman who was always been pushed into feminine things, for example, You know deciding "Fuck it I don't like these things. I'm going to go into, you know, body building and I'm gonna cut my hair short" There's no difference. Gender presentation.
There's no difference Me looking different than it did in high school does not mean I'm a different person. It just means maybe I'm happier or more comfortable or I'm expressing myself in a different way. It does not mean I'm an inherently different person or that I've switched bodies or any of this stuff. None of it. So I do understand the misunderstanding, I get it, but it's not accurate and I really need people to listen when I say that because, you know, ugh I'm okay with people knowing I'm trans. I'm so okay with that. That is not a problem to me.
What I'm not okay with is this shock factor that people are hunting for when they say "She used to be a man" like it's supposed to be shocking that suddenly she's happy and beautiful or something Why is that shocking? That should not be shocking! It's just inappropriate. It's inappropriate, and it's not necessary. You know you can say "Oh, this is my friend Stef" And you know I wouldn't want, in person, to be introduced to a group of people as "a trans person" because I just don't think It's necessary information. I'm a lot of things other than "a trans woman". You know I'm a geek. I like stories.
I like fantasy and science fiction. I like makeup and beauty and glamour. I like shopping for clothes. I like Netflix binging for 20 hours straight.
There's a lot of other things that are interesting about me as a person that, you know, you could bond over other than my medical history, my perceived genitalia and my trauma. You know what I mean? It's just a lot of unnecessary information. When somebody's introducing, you know, showing me- my channel to somebody like that's different. Totally different situation But instead of saying "She used to be a man." You could say "Look at this transgender youtuber. She's very, whatever." Whatever you want. Whatever. You don't even have to compliment me! Okay? That's fine! Just don't think you're complimenting me and say something horrendously insulting like "She used to be a man" because I was never a man Okay? Never happened. I'm not saying those years of my life did not happen, but during those years of my life I was not a dude.
I was just perceived as one. So that's on you, not on me. Cool Here's one that I've experienced not as much in recent months But especially early in transition People would try to make me feel better about my body by saying things like "I wish I was as muscular as you are" and like feeling my biceps and stuff and I made it very clear that I was not comfortable with my musculature I was not comfortable with how- how beefy I was and instead of people just awkwardly ignoring that statement Which you know? I understand people weren't sure what to do maybe when I said that, but instead of complimenting the thing that I hate that causes me extreme discomfort. It just made me uncomfortable It's not quite the same, but I feel like this is worth mentioning And- and you know, this isn't so much, you know, a backhanded compliment, this is just- Maybe a tip, right? And this isn't really anybody's fault I mean it would be somebody's fault if it was brought up out of nowhere with no context, right? So like if I was just hanging out somewhere and somebody decided to be like "Oh you're so muscular and beefy and huge. I wish I was as huge and muscular as you" Wow. Maybe don't say that.
I'm sure, you know, bodybuilder women would love to hear that But, you know, I think very few trans women are actually bodybuilder women There's some, for sure, but you know, maybe- maybe the ones that aren't, you don't say that to. I don't know. I don't know. I don't- I don't know if there's a lot I can say on that, but it's just a thought.
One last one that I can think of, that I experience sometimes, is "You're so brave" Mm. I under- this isn't even really backhanded. It's just uncomfortable It's just uncomfortable. I don't feel like I'm brave for living my life Okay? And I know that, you know, some people do experience a lot of harsher conditions or way harder social situations than I do, and that's fair, but even those people, I've been told by people in those situations, and again This does not apply to 100% of the people, but that usually just makes us feel weird It's like we're used as inspiration for it Like "Oh if she can you know be confident and happy, then I can because I'm not as ugly as she is" Like, that's what it feels like and I know that's not what people are saying I know that. But it implies that were brave because our lives are so horrible My life isn't horrible It's not That is a more accurate statement The ugly thing, forget that. That's not really in context here, but the statement "Oh, you're so brave" Implies that my life is so horrible, that I must have an immense amount of bravery to function and I might have trouble getting out of bed in the morning and eating properly and exercising but none of that has to do with how trans I am That's just a fact of life And I'm no more brave than any other person, especially because I'm a very privileged person, I'm no more brave than anybody else that has a very average, middle-class, financially secure life. I don't believe I'm brave for that. There are some situations where this will be very applicable and maybe very appreciated, but nine times out of ten I feel like it wouldn't be, because it implies that we should be miserable because of our circumstances, and we shouldn't.
Okay? Those are all the examples that I can really think of that are relevant to my life But if you have others that you have experienced that maybe I didn't bring up or that are an entirely different demographic, then let me know in the comments. Let's talk about things like this, let's just get better at being kind because I think we can all learn a few things You know, we can never stop learning. Never. So, you know, if there's something that has been said to you, intended as a compliment, that made you feel horrendously uncomfortable or awful, let's talk about it. Bring it up in the comments.
And you know, I know some people are gonna get defensive, and I just want to reiterate: This isn't meant as an attack on you, This isn't meant as a "Look how bad you are". This is meant as a "Hey, this thing maybe isn't so great that you said. Here's a better way to say it" or maybe, "This is why this is bad and don't say it" I don't want you to feel like I'm trying to attack you, because I'm really not. I just know that there are a lot of things that are intended to be positive, that are just not, and if you could not do those things, that would be cool. It's not really that hard.
You know, I don't feel like I'm asking people to change the way they live their lives I'm not asking people to specifically compliment people. I'm just saying: "These things are not compliments" Okay? Until next time just remember: Kindness is free. Okay? You can be kind. It costs nothing. It costs nothing.
It comes to zero dollars, so make every effort in every part of your life to be as kind as possible, when it's necessary, Maybe don't be kind to Nazis, because they don't really deserve it, just saying, I love you so much. See you later! Bye!.
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