Do We Acknowledge Each Other - Jude Samson - Culture - Transgender Univers

Whether it is just because so many more of us step out of the dark closet space society keeps trying to shove us into, or because as you transition you tend to be more attune to others in the same situation, or even a combination of both – regardless I see many brothers and sisters in my life now. But, I’m conflicted because when I recognize someone of my community, I want to acknowledge them but at the same time I fear that I may be outing them or may trigger anxiety or other negative emotions. While I would be happy to get a knowing wink, a nod or a “hey friend,” I realize that this may be extremely difficult for others to experience.

“Acknowledging someone as trans could be perceived as them “not passing” well enough.”

Acknowledging someone as trans could be perceived as them “not passing” well enough. What gave them away? Was something “just not right” enough that allowed me to see they were a fellow trans person? What if the person/people they’re around don’t know and they’ve thus far been able to live in stealth? What if they just don’t even want to be acknowledged as being trans at all?

Do We Acknowledge Each Other - Jude Samson - Transgender Universe

There are so many potential issues that could arise that could become not just embarrassing, but extremely emotionally devastating to a person. It could be especially damaging if it snaps someone back into a dysphoric state suddenly. I’ve personally experienced moments where I passed easily in society for an extended period of time and suddenly one person who seemed more astute than the rest of the world called me out as trans straight away (i.e. he clocked me). It was physically jarring and felt like that moment in movies with the “Hitchcockian” zoom effect.

“While I never want to be the cause for creating someone’s dysphoria, I also don’t want to turn a blind eye to my fellow trans people.”

While I never want to be the cause for creating someone’s dysphoria, I also don’t want to turn a blind eye to my fellow trans people. If I acknowledge them in some way, would it have given them a smile? Would we have started a conversation? Maybe they were having a bad day and while they were acknowledged, it may have been just enough to know a friendly face smiled at them today and acknowledged they existed in a world that keeps trying to make us fade away and disappear.

I’d love to hear the feedback of our readership to know how you feel about being acknowledged by another trans person. I’m specifically using the word “acknowledged” here and repeatedly because in the circumstances of which I speak, I don’t feel it’s necessarily being clocked. I’m not referring to announcing to anyone around that you’re trans, just a little knowing smile/wink/nod or a “Hey there bro/sis” as some like to say to others in the community. Something subtle and between just the two of you and nothing overt, antagonizing or accusing. Do you feel that if a fellow trans person acknowledges you that it could be too dangerous or do you feel we should be free to acknowledge each other in public because we deserve to be able to communicate and engage with our community whenever we want? Perhaps it’s too soon to be too open as we’re still glaring targets? Share your thoughts and feelings. If you’d like to share input but remain anonymous, you can email your statements to

  • Randi Blocker

    I have transitioned about as far as I can without the surgery. I’m still saving up for that. I live in a small town in Alabama and though I am retired, I was a public official in my county for 25 years. That being said, I can pass fairly well most of the time with people who don’t know me, until I open my mouth. I do not have a deep voice, but I do have one that is not really feminine either. Does this worry me? No. Do I worry about others in the community or anyone else outing me? No. In fact I am more than willing to talk to anyone about myself and my life. I want to educate people, not hide from them any more. I do not kid myself, I am a transgender woman and even after my surgery, I will still be a transgender woman. No amount of surgery will ever change that or change who I am and have been. I embrace it and am proud that I am still around when so many aren’t. None of this is meant to cast shade on anyone who feels differently, I respect everyone’s feelings, but if you ever chance to run across me, feel free to introduce yourself. I would love to talk.

    • I’m very much along these lines as well. I’m comfortable and out and open and I would rather be that person that will discuss things with you. Of course within reason and without the questioning person being invasion or rude. But overall I would rather talk openly about it because I want someone who may never have concerned themselves with trans-issues suddenly realize “Hey, I know a trans person and I think they’re great and the way you’re treating them sucks so back off.” I realize this is a very difficult thing for many people to do and I absolutely respect that. I try to look for a tattoo or a jacket pin or a necklace or something that is an indicator otherwise I just smile and say hello and go about my business.

  • Callie

    Back in the day, the simple rule was that you never knew if another transperson you saw thought they were passing even though you clocked them. There was little worse than breaking someone’s sense of invisibility, their own sense that they had concealed their trans nature so well that no one could tell. Because this was a huge line of emotional defence, allowing them to walk in the world without imagining that people could read them, you had to respect that possibility.

    I learned to use codes. “You look like you have an interesting history!” was a common way to open the discussion if someone wanted to, as they could easily just say “I don’t know what you mean!” and scamper off.

    To me, this was like learning not to use the word “wig” with other transwomen. Much better to say “You might want to check your hair” rather than to say “Your wig is askew” where someone else who doesn’t know it is a wig might hear.

    The challenge with acknowledging other transpeople is finding connection. Why do we want to acknowledge each other? Do we think that we will have common cause, that we will support each other, or do we just believe that we have enough baggage to carry without taking on the visibility of another transperson whose choices we can’t control?

    “I would never make that choice for myself, but it looks great on you!” is hard for people who police their choices heavily to say. How do we embrace other peoples trans expression when we struggle with our own?

    • Exactly. This is the very concern that I was wanting to express in that giving someone some kind of acknowledgment could be devastating because it could break that sense of passing. Alternatively, I think we can “tell” or “clock” others better because it’s a common ground we share so even if someone passes on the regular we tend to be far more in-tune because it’s a road we’ve traveled or are currently traveling. While everyone’s journey is different it can leave some similar marks on each of us.