Thursday, January 24, 2019


Hi Stana!

I’m a cis-woman who started reading your blog for the fashion and stayed for your unique perspective on trying to live an authentic life. Could you write a post about what good manners are for members of the public who encounter transgender people?

Thank you,


šŸ‘¦ / šŸ‘§

Hi Beth,

Thank you for the compliment, that is, "I’m a cis-woman who started reading your blog for the fashion."

Regarding your question, I will always remember when I unintentionally scared the living daylights out of a transwoman. I was attending a transgender convention, arrived in boy mode and boarded the elevator at the host hotel, which was occupied by a young transwoman.

I said, "Hello" and asked her if she was enjoying the convention.

She reacted like the proverbial deer in headlights.

Oops! I immediately realized my error and added that I was also attending the convention, but had not changed to girl mode yet.

She was relieved and I learned a big lesson. Whenever I encounter someone who I think is trans, I bite my tongue and don't say anything that gives away my assumption about their gender. I might say, "Hello" and make small talk, but I would never say something like, "Your femulation is great!" 

...for two reasons...

1.  What if they are not trans? I don't think I have to explain why misidentifying a civilian as trans is a big no-no.

2.  And if they are trans, they probably don't want anyone (even another trans) telling them that their cisgender is showing. Some trans people may not care, but it is better to err on the side of caution and not say anything because many trans people do care.

So the answer is that generic small talk is OK, but don't say anything that will burst the bubble of a trans person who is trying to make their way out among civilians in their true gender.

Source: DVF
Wearing Diane von Furstenberg (Source: DVF)

Simon Hanselmann
Simon Hanselmann, cartoonist


  1. Sally StoneJanuary 24, 2019


    Your advice about meeting trans people was so "right on." Still, I have a soft spot for cis folks who aren't sure how to act or what to say when they meet us. Personally, I try to accept the fact that people are curious by nature and their comments don't mean to be hurtful. When someone does make comments that aren't necessarily "trans" correct, or they are curious, I do my best to make the most of an educational opportunity. I love your blog too.



  2. I never know how to compliment anyone. But sometimes I'll see someone who looks so well-put-together that I have to say something. Usually it's "I hope you don't take this the wrong way, but your outfit is just beautiful" and then go on my way. I feel if the conversation continued it could be kinda creepy. But I'd approach a transwoman with the same line ~ even if I'm stretching the truth a bit. I know I'd float on a cloud the rest of the day if someone said that to me!

  3. Stana, I imagine the person you encountered was a first-timer and hadn't had time to become comfortable with the situation. of course, everyone has a different personality and you just got a shy lady. I had someone approach me at Keystone in the parking lot last year. It was my first time, but I just engaged the male-mode "her" in conversation. She felt more comfortable, and so did I.

    I don't necesssarily think someone should avoid approaching a t-woman, but do it discreetly -- one-on-one. If the situation won't allow that, just let it go. If you do start talking, say something about yourself to try to put the other person at ease. Several years ago I arrived at an evening event in male dress and approached a lovely t-woman, who was giving me a wary look. I opened with, "What a drive. I can't wait to get into my dress"! Then I asked my question. We immediately got along.

  4. That reminded me of the last time I was at SCC. I made the mistake of offering my opinion about a dress on the free rack that was open to anyone. I came around the corner and ran into a trans woman who was holding a dress up against herself to get an idea about the fit. Without thinking, I mentioned that she would look good in it. For the remainder of the conference she avoided me.