Monday, September 28, 2015

Transgender waitress shares patron’s ‘stellar’ parenting moment... yadda, yadda, yadda

This story bothered me ever since I read it.

In a nutshell, a male-to-female transgender waitress was waiting on a family composed of a father, mother and young daughter. While the waitress was away from the table, the husband approached her and said, "My daughter just asked if you were a boy or a girl. I didn't want to speak for you so would you like to talk to her?" The waitress nervously agreed, went to the family's table and gave the daughter a little transgender education.

How does this qualify as a "stellar" parenting moment?

To go up to a stranger, assume that the stranger is transgender and ask the stranger to explain herself!

Rather than calling it a "stellar" parenting moment, I'd call it the height of rudeness.

Instead of putting the waitress on the spot, the father should have did his own parenting and told his daughter that the waitress may be a girl or may be a boy, but it was nobody's business except the waitress' business. Now that would have been a "stellar" parenting moment.

Instead, the story went viral and every civilian that knows about it thinks they have carte blanche to go up to anyone they suspect is transgender and interrogate them about being trans!

Source: Elle
Street style during fall fashion week in New York City, 2015.

Man and wife femulating and masculating, respectively, on Halloween.


  1. An interesting one, this. Although I agree with you, Stana, I think the Dad was trying to "do the right thing" and so we can only be as polite as possible in response (despite the fact we might be seething underneath).

    I had a similar situation recently when talking to a couple of women at a pub. The first woman talked to me as she would any woman ("I love it here", "have you come far?" "it's crowded tonight", etc.). She later left with her husband but her friend remained and continued the conversation. This time it went along the lines of "I admire you for dressing like you do" "I don't have a problem with it" and "you should live as you want to live" . She obviously felt a little awkward but was doing her best to be kind. As I was not being treated as just another woman, and more as a bit of a strange person, it was not what I wanted to hear and discuss. My friend and me had a chuckle about her later (hopefully in a kind way) and we agreed that she was just trying to be nice, however inappropriately she did it.

    Incidentally I don't know if anyone is aware of the current series "Boy Meets Girl" by the ever wonderful BBC - link for episode 4 here I've managed to see a few of these and think they are well done (it very much has the same feel as the film "Just Like a (Wo)man" in my opinion. Like most of us, the main transgendered character has to overcome awkward public situations.

    Michelle x

  2. That's rude indeed. But it still beats the father telling the daughter some half-baked answers like "He's a sissy" or other more insulating terms!

  3. I'm of 2 thoughts on this one, only because I've had my own toddler ask similar questions. You're very much put on the spot and don't know how to answer. You can be embarrassed and try to avoid the question, or you can use it as an opportunity to have a discussion.

    Best case scenario, I'd use it as an opportunity for a quiet family conversation. If I thought the waitress overheard, however, I might do as the father in the story did and ask if she'd like to answer. It would all depend on the situation.

    Ultimately, though, I think the takeaway here is that the father didn't just dismiss the question or the waitress, and didn't suggest that there was anything weird/odd/wrong with her. That's progress right there.

  4. Interesting take Stana, but around here, you often DON"T want to give most parents a chance to answer-they simply are equipped to do so.

  5. I have to agree, this is a mixed one. We might hope the parents could be like the one I once heard Jenny Boylan describe, who upon being asked by her child "what that was," referring to Jenny, the parent responded that it was a human being. Flip side is that the waitress (and many kudos to her) probably did a whole big better job of teaching the child about trans people than either of her parent could have done.

    We've come a long way but we're a long way from where we'd like to be. I wish more than anything I could just live my life as me without all the crap we encounter. On the other hand, (and only in my more centered moments), I am proud that we're pioneers and ambassadors of the T-people who will follow us.

    And on an unrelated topic and with apologies for being a hopeless Photoshop geek, did you catch that the woman in the street shot has been inserted? Not only has she been inserted but the cross walk over which she is floating has also been added too. If anyone who missed it wants to see it clearly, copy the image to your desktop, zoom way in, and you'll see that the edges around the model and the white crosswalk paint have jagged edges (aliasing), indicating their a different resolution than the background.

  6. I am with you 100% on this one. To me it sounds like it may also be fake. Really "I'll just go up to this stranger and ask them to explain this very sensitive situation"

    There is a good chance that any person wouldn't want explain themselves. I think it's an internet fake, and of course you can't question it because then you are trans-phobic

  7. Inserting myself into the waitress's position I'd actually be happy that the father approach me instead of just making something up for his daughter's sake. In a Utopian world we would all just be human beings without being placed into any other categories but I think that day is still a long way off. Until then, when the opportunity arises, we should take the time to explain who we are to those who are curious or misinformed.



  8. I can see both sides here. In hindsight, you are correct Stana. But "In the moment" dad was trying to do the right thing and not belittle the waitress. The general public is new at accepting trans people and may make several "fopas" in "trying to do the right thing. No malice was observed by me on the dads part. I bet he thinks he could have done with that now, hindsight is a biatch. One step at a time. Beats him calling his buddies and having them come down and "beat someone up".

  9. Hi Stana,

    I will have to disagree with your assessment. I applaud the father for having the courage to do this. He did not feel informed enough so he wanted his kid to know it the right way. Young kids do not deal with ambiguity well. They want to know for sure whether that is a "boy" or a "girl". They are not equipped to deal with grey areas of life. What if the trans waitress did not identify as a woman but as queer or androgynous or something else? What if "she" wanted to be called "they" or "their"? The dad could have just conveyed to the kid his own interpretation of the waitress' gender presentation. In stead, he decided to ask her and that, to me, is admirable. She was certainly not offended by that. How many times does this happen for trans people? Even the near and dear ones form their own opinions about you without having a conversation with you and then treat you accordingly. Won't it be better if they just asked first? I would never be offended by that. In fact, I would welcome such a "Caitlyn" moment to educate them further.



  10. I concur on the rudeness of this parent and his derive the of duty, in the manner you suggest. But on the other tide of the coin, I welcome contact and conversation that begins with a simple question. I'm motivated now to add a button to my wardrobe. "Questions are more apprecitated then assumptions"