I have recently gotten more involved in our local LGBTQ+ community. When I was in college, I minored in women’s and gender studies, but there wasn’t a huge LGBTQ+ aspect to it due to the time period I was in college. Ever since then, I’ve continued to be interested in all aspects of women’s and gender studies. The research I have accessible to me, however, is limited since I am no longer in school. I try not to burden my friends with too many questions since this is their life and not just some experiment I want to read to get information. Over the weekend, I was talking to one of my cis-het friends who has been heavily involved in the LGBTQ+ community for years. I asked her something I have been wanting to ask trans people for a long time but haven’t due to not wanting to come across as someone who is just there to do “research.” My friend said she wasn’t sure how trans people would take my question and that I should maybe wait until I become closer friends with someone to ask. To be clear, she didn’t say she thought it would go over poorly, she just said she wasn’t sure.
I’ve been trying to come up with a way to bring up the question without sounding like I’m trying to diminish their experience, but any variation of “I hope this question doesn’t come off as inappropriate,” sounds exactly like something someone would say if they don’t care about trans people or are trying to play devil’s advocate, which is 100 percent not what I’m trying to do. I’m just really interested in gender dynamics and identity. What are your thoughts? Are there any phrases I can say to make sure I come across as sounding genuinely open-minded and curious, rather than judgmental and critical?