#AskTransFolks Wants To Break Barriers And Foster Understanding One Question at a Time
One of the biggest hurdles to mutual understanding in any situaiton is an inability to really hear the other side. Natural curiousity, a trait lauded and encouraged in childhood, is tamped down in adulthood as beliefs and preconceived notions take root. When faced with the sudden groundswell of something new and unfamiliar, the instinct is not to ask questions and try to understand but to continue to operate on false assumptions and ignorance. This way of thinking is pervasive; it touches every aspect of the culture, but nowhere is it more harmful than when it comes to the public discourse around transgender people.
Trans visibility is an issue; it will always be an issue, but never more than it is now. From Caitlyn Jenner’s very public coming out to Jill Soloway’s award-winning show Transparent to the recent spate of transphobic “bathroom laws” that adhere strictly to notions of gender that are outdated, the conversation surrounding transgender people and trans rights has gone from a whisper to a shout. While some questions are being asked and answered behind closed doors, the public discourse around trans rights and visibilty has been anything but civil, driven primarily by fear and deep misunderstanding.
One very important project is working to change that. #AskTransFolks is more than just hashtag activism; it’s a movement designed to provide a safe space for questions and answers as a means of reaching mutual understanding. The way it works is simple: Ask a question and get an answer.
While it may seem that this campaign will be nothing more than trollbait, a door flung open to ignorance and transphobia, there will be moderators on hand to screen the questions. Anyone is open to ask; the point of the platform is to provide a valuable safe space for people to learn. This project seems similar to Jose Antonio Vargas’s puzzling and ultimately failed project “White People,” in concept only; the execution is already more thoughtful and way more necessary.
Demystifying the trans experience is a crucial part of understanding; the hope is that clarity will bring mutual understanding at the very least.