I know it’s just a microaggression, and pales into insignificance when compared with so many of the other things said and done to trans folks, but dear Lord, if I hear one more cis guy bid me “welcome to manhood” I am going to explode.
It normally happens when I am wondering aloud at some new thing my body is doing. My voice cracks when I’m singing at church. I start to worry that my hairline is receding. I find a random dark hair growing out of an otherwise hairless part of my upper arm. I bemoan the need to shave my face at least semi-regularly. And out it comes, from the (albeit well-meaning) mouth of whatever cis male friend happens to be within earshot; “Welcome to manhood!”
Do you (cis friend who has just said this) have any idea how irritatingly offensive this is? Do you even know why this is just not a cool thing to say? I know you say it to be cute. I know you say it to reinforce to me that you ‘see me as a man’ and all that. But here’s the thing, right:
I DO NOT NEED WELCOMING TO A THING THAT I HAVE ALWAYS BEEN.
I don’t know how much more plainly I can put that, but let me unpack it a little further for those in the back who might not have been listening. What you’re saying is that before, I was not male, but now I am experiencing [thing], I am suddenly part of the club. What you’re saying is that before I started experiencing these changes, before I started ‘passing’ (and fuck do I hate that word) as male, essentially, before I started testosterone therapy, I wasn’t really a man, but now I am, and this is notable enough to mention.
And that’s really upsetting, cis friend. I didn’t magically ‘become’ male at some point. Not when I came out, not when I started testosterone, not when I began to be read as male full-time. I am now what I have always been, and to imply otherwise is to strip me of my gender, something that is now and always has been part of the very core of my being.
I know it’s hard to be asked to examine your speech patterns, because they are influenced by your thought patterns, and it is even more difficult to be asked to examine those. But please, for the sake of your friendship with the trans people in your life, do it anyway.
Have a long hard think about why it is you say things like this. And then stop saying them. It’s not a difficult thing to do, to eradicate a three-word phrase from your everyday speech. More importantly, examining your reasons will help you to be a better ally in the future, and God knows we need more of those in the world.