Transgender folks can get asked invasive questions about their bodies. Harv and Elena speak to student activist Robert Molloy. Also featuring trans youth mentor Danielle Araya from The 519.
By JJ Doods
JJ Doods is a teenage guy from the UK, and he tries to make comics about being trans sometimes because hey, why not?
Robert Molloy is a Ryerson University student studying politics and governance. Openly trans since 10th grade, he spends most of his time educating others. He has volunteered through Ryerson’s Trans Collective, RyePRIDE, and Ryerson’s Centre for Women and Trans People. He is a freelance spoken word artist who performs with Ryerson’s Poetic Exchange. Beyond being a social justice person, he is a poet and lover of dogs.
Danielle Araya is the Coordinator of Programs and Community Services at The 519 in Toronto and runs its Trans Youth Mentorship Program.
Resources & Other Information
The 519 is an organization and community centre in Toronto, Ontario that provides services, space, and leadership to LGBTQ2S communities in Toronto and beyond. This page includes resources such as a Gender Identity and Gender Expression Toolkit, Trans Women’s Safer Sex Guide, and more.
This is youth-led organization’s mission is to educate the public and help trans activists become effective organizers. The organization provides collaborative learning workshops, writes model policies for colleges and universities on transgender students and provides a collaborative fellowship program.
This New York Times piece features the personal stories of different transgender individuals with the goal of highlighting the challenges and diversity throughout the community.
NLHEC provides educational programs, resources, and consultation to healthcare organizations with the overall aim of improving the quality and cost-effectiveness of health care for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. The NLHEC also provides online training including webinars and learning modules.
Gender Diversity provides support for families, trans youth, and educators. Gender Diversity also provides education and training for schools, workplaces, and health providers.
Gender Spectrum aims to create gender sensitive and inclusive environments for children and teens. The organization provides a variety of services like professional development training, support groups and safe spaces. These services are for helping youth, families, organizations and institutions understand and address concepts of Gender identity and Gender expression,
FrancoQueer is an association for gay, lesbian, bisexual, two-spirit, transsexual, transgender, questioning, queer, intersex, asexual and allied (LGBTQIA) francophones in Toronto and Ontario. Their mission is to represent LGBTQIA francophones and their allies while also offering activities, services, programs and opportunities to celebrate the diversity of these individuals in a francophone atmosphere.
2spirits provides prevention education and support for 2-Spirit, including First Nations, metis and Inuit people in the Greater Toronto Area who are either living with or at risk for HIV and related co-infections. Our guest Danielle Araya is Vice-President on the board.
Harvinder Wadhwa: People are curious and that's great.
Elena Hudgins Lyle: But there are some questions you just shouldn't ask or at least not like that.
Harv: I'm Harvinder Wadhwa.
Elena: I'm Elena Hudgins Lyle.
Harv: And this is Inappropriate Questions.
Elena: Let’s get inappropriate!
Elena: Harv, What do you get when a millennial, a middle-aged dad, and an inappropriate question walk into a recording studio?
Harv: (laughs) I guess an interesting podcast?
Elena: We hope so, we hope so. I'm Elena Hudgins Lyle, I'm queer, I'm non-binary, I'm a total podcast nerd. I'm super into social issues and staying aware of what’s going on in the world around me but I think I have a lot to learn.
Harv: My name is Harvinder Wadhwa. I'm a project manager and I have two kids who constantly tell me I know nothing.
Harv: So I think I'm an aware person but increasingly I'm realizing how little I know and I'm here to become woke.
Elena: That's a word I taught Harv.
Harv: [laughs] True!
Elena: When we were going into making this podcast, we wanted to make sure that the two hosts had different perspectives. So the first thing that that other producers and I thought about it was that we wanted our dads to listen to this podcast. So we started trying to cast a middle-aged dad.
Harv: Yes and my daughter Rymn she mentioned that Elena was looking for an ignorant person and I said "sign me up! sign me up!"
Elena: Okay, okay. Together Harv and I are going to look into the questions people ask that maybe they shouldn't. So why questions? Why are we breaking down these inappropriate questions?
Harv: We become so insensitive. It's not that we want to be insensitive but because we see or read or do stuff constantly that we stop thinking how it is impacting others.
Elena: Yeah. Questions are about curiosity, right? that's a genuine wish to know more about someone's life. That most people are coming from a place of a good intention. When you ask these questions, sometimes that can be really disrespectful and you don't know how that’s impacting the other person like you say.
Harv: We can keep talking but I think let's get started
Elena: This episode we're talking all about the question "Have you had the surgery?’" and questions like this that transgendered people get asked about their bodies.
Harv: Before we start, give us an overview of how this is going to work.
Elena: We'll be talking to people who've been on the receiving end of these questions and we'll be talking to experts who can tell us where these questions came from and why people like to ask them in the first place. You're also going to hear voicenotes from the community sprinkled throughout, talking about their experiences with questions like this.
Harv: I am so excited, let's get woke!
Elena: You're not going to let this die, are you?
Elena: Harvinder Woke-wah.
Voice 1: We call them privates for a reason, like that's no one's business.
Voice 2: They usually think first what's down there before they even actually talk to us
Voice 3: So have you had the surgery? Are you going to get the surgery? What about testosterone? Are you going to be a man?
Harv: Alright Elena, who do we have lined up?
Elena: We're going to speak to Robert Molloy, he's a university student studying politics and governance. He's been openly transgender since he was in 10th grade, he volunteers with LGBT groups on his campus, he’s a freelance spoken word artist and he’s also a dog person. Welcome, Rob!
Robert Molloy: Hey.
Harv: Welcome Rob.
Rob: I'm such a dog person.
Elena: So to start us off Rob, tell us about a time someone asked you "Have you had the surgery?"
Rob: So basically I'm walking through campus and somebody comes up to me and goes "Hey Rob, how are you?" "I'm good." I don't remember who you are but I guess we're going to have this conversation now and then they're like "so have you had the surgery?"
And there's just this pause for a good two minutes as I'm just standing there wide-eyed. I'm like it's 9 AM, I've had half a cup of coffee. This is not the time to ask me about my personal surgeries. So that's probably the main one, but I get it every once in a while, especially with family. I only came out to my extended family within the last year and they ask a lot of really weird questions and that's the main one is “So have you had the surgery? Are you going to get the surgery? What about testosterone? Are you going to be a man?” and it's a really awkward time.
Harv: So Rob, you are the first transgendered person I have ever met or openly transgendered person. I may have met a number of them, I don't know.
Harv: And I am just so intrigued. If I can go back a little bit Rob, can you tell us what is a transgender?
Rob: So when you're like describing trans folks you can either use trans, trans folks, trans people, trans men, trans women. Like usually you wouldn't go like "that's a transgendered person" that's why we all kind of gave like a look and a little bit of a laugh so like that's the best way to use it. You can use trans or trans folks if that makes sense.
Harv: Hmm, understood.
Rob: How's the best way I can describe this? So basically cisgender people are people who agree with the gender they were assigned at birth. So if you were born with male parts and you were gendered as a male and you agree with that then you're cis. Trans folks are people who don't agree with that so that can be anywhere between being transgendered which is what I am. So I was born assigned female at birth and I don't agree with that and think I should have been assigned male at birth and so I'm trans.
Harv: So it is different in the sense that the way you are perceiving yourself is a little different than what biologically you are.
Harv: So does that make you different in any other way than the cis people?
Rob: Yeah definitely. A lot of people say "so were you born in the wrong body" and I’m like well no, I think that probably if you want to go higher power, if you want to think everything happens for a reason like I was probably assigned female at birth for lots of different reasons.
Like I work for the centre of women and trans and I don't think I could ever, ever have done that as a cis male because I would never be able to see a woman's perspective through a cis male lens. Like it's really difficult to be a cis masculine person and be like "oh women experience misogyny, what about the wage gap?" like that's something I don't think I'd ever be able to perceive as a cis male. So being assigned female at birth I'm aware of the privileges that you can have as a cis male or having as male or as a straight person. So I think that's like the main way, but there definitely are like thought differences.
I've known since I was a kid, that's probably the next question. How long have you known you were trans? I wrote a spoken word about this and it's called Peter Pan and basically starts with "when I was a little girl, I went to bed every night and wanting to be Peter Pan when I grew up" and I remember being like six waking up in the morning and crying because I wasn't Peter Pan because I wanted to be a boy when I woke up and I woke up and I was still a girl and I was sad.
Elena: I think we actually have a clip of that that we can play.
Rob: I told my mother that I wanted to be Peter Pan when I grew up and she said "silly girl, you should try to be Wendy Darling, so that one day your Peter Pan can come rescue you".
Rob: So like I don't know what that means. I had no idea what trans was, I didn't find out the word transgender until I was in like eighth grade, seventh grade kind of style. Like I can't really say "Oh I knew what trans was from a little kid" no I didn't, but I knew I was trans but I didn't know the word for it. I just wanted to be a boy and I was like I don’t understand.
Elena: Right. How does it feel looking back on that from where you are now?
Rob: Just so everybody is on the same page, I am pre-everything. So I haven't started testosterone, I've done a little bit of therapy but I haven't gone very far yet. It's a really long process in Ontario and I'm trying to get through university first. Like, I'm not rushing into testosterone and I'm not rushing into treatments cause that's not something I'm like really concerned about. I'm concerned about my GPA right now. So, that's kind of where I'm sitting but definitely, it's really hard to be like “yeah I'm trans, I use male pronouns” when this is what my voice sounds like. So, that's definitely like a main thing with experience. I hope that answers it.
Harv: You said a lot of things but I'm still not clear about one thing. You were talking about some treatment. Can you elaborate a little bit on that?
Rob: So being trans is like a process. So I came out. I came out to myself so I came out to myself in probably like 9th, 10th grade when I started doing my own research. I came out to my family only about two years ago like I actually was living a double life for a really long time. So I was Rob in school in grade 12 and I was my birth name, which is Rowan, at home. So it was a really interesting time. I literally jumped pronouns every day.
Rob: So that was like a time. But I came out to my family and then a lot of folks usually go to your doctor and you're like "hey I'm trans" and your doctor is like "cool" and they send you for treatment. So usually you have to go through some therapy first, you used to have to go through CAMH, which is the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. It's changed a lot recently because transness used to be classified as a mental disorder as gender dysphoria, which was really sucky because it basically was like on all your profiles it basically said you had this debilitating mental illness when it's like I'm pretty sure my identity isn't a mental illness, but you know.
And then you can start doing treatments. So I could take testosterone and my voice would drop, and grow body hair and all of these other things would happen. You can Google them if you really want to know and then a lot of folks get surgery. So there's top surgery which is removing the breasts and then there's bottom surgery which is kind of complicated...I'm not going to go into...Google.
Rob: I like—I haven't even looked into it so I can't be like "here is the medical procedure" like I don't know. Like I know a lot of trans folks are interested in that, but some are and some aren't and it's really complicated. That's the biggest thing with being trans, it's literally different for everyone. So I can speak for me but I can't speak for like the transperson—let's say there's a trans person in the room next door, I can't speak on their experiences.
Elena: Right, so when someone says something like "have you had the surgery" how do you react? Do you generally try to answer them or—
Rob: [ugh noise] That's like the actual noise that goes through me. I'm just like—
Elena: Do it again.
Rob: Why. [ugh noise]
Elena: There we go
Rob: Why you doing this? It depends on context. I think context is everything when you're talking about trans things. When I'm at a place like this, when I’m at a podcast, literally talking about trans issues, this is a very different environment than Gould St. at 9 AM when I've had half a cup of coffee, please stop.
Elena: Is there a misconception about trans people that comes through or is there something that they're trying to get at through this question? A reason for their curiosity?
Rob: Um I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I think they have good intentions. I don't want to be like “no they're trying to make uncomfortable” because of course they're not. People are not nasty, brutish, and short They're trying to actually be nice but it's just like coming off in a way of really uncomfortable. Like I'm not going to go up to a cis person and be like "how do you have sex?" like that's not a question. If you're not going to go up to a cis person and ask that, why are you going to go up to a trans person? My favourite thing that I have saved on my computer is Let Me Google That For You
Rob: Like, Google.
Elena: If you don't know Harv, it's this animation that comes up that's just like Google and this little mouse comes up and it types in your question for you and it just Googles it for you. It's...That is the brilliance of can I Google it for you.
Rob: That’s the thing is, I think a lot of folks expect trans people to be your Google. Just because I'm a trans person does not mean I can be like here like here is the entire wave of why I'm a trans person and what that means.
Harv: We've made it pretty clear but I just want to put it on the record, We are going to use you as Google for this podcast.
Elena: Your new name is Roogle
Elena: So what are reasons maybe just to give people an idea, that you haven't taken some of these steps. You said you're focusing on your GPA, what are some like reasons people might not want to take hormones or have surgeries?
Rob: Um, needles are scary. And I'm like really really privileged to have a lot of OHIP [Ontario Health Insurance Plan] coverage so as soon as I start testosterone a lot of it it's gonna be covered. For a lot of folks I now, it won’t be covered and surgeries are like $12 000. And a lot of them aren't covered. I can only speak as a white person, especially I've heard that trans folks of colour have even more barriers, especially my family isn't really religious. I like cannot even speak for the trans folks of colour who are under religious barriers. Like I've heard so many things about my friends who are like my parents are really strict Catholics but I'm really trans and I cannot take this anymore. And it's like ugh noise. It's the noise. That's just my automatic response when it sucks.
Elena: Bring it back, bring it back.
Harv: So two questions to you Rob. First question, so being a transgender person from day to day life is it different, is it challenging, can you speak a little bit on that?
Rob: So it's different every day it's definitely different every day. So I guess I'm going to finally describe the term dysphoria. I feel like I need to explain dysphoria to explain anything else. So dysphoria is feeling uncomfortable in your body due to gender so that could be due to a body part, due to a voice, due to this, due to that. So like I went to Starbucks this morning and the person goes "how are you doing today, miss?" and the best way I've ever been able to describe dysphoria is so let's say you're walking downstairs and you think you've missed a step and your stomach just kind of lurches for a second, that's what dysphoria feels like for like 15 minutes.
It's that lurching feeling of uncomfortable of just like not good feeling. Especially because you know when you have that feeling it kind of hangs out with you for a little while. It could, it could be like two hours after you've like missed that step and you're still kind of feeling that. Think of that for like four days and that could be like a dysphoria trip of like I've had friends who like will go through dysphoria spirals and they last like three weeks.
Elena: Rob make the noise.
Rob: [ugh noise]
Elena: There we go.
Rob: So sometimes my dysphoria is super bad and I'm like staying in my room cuddled in a blanket watching MASH which is like my favourite old TV show. So like watching a binge TV show, eating popcorn and being like "nope, not today. Not today." And like most days I'm like pretty good. Lots of trans folks have dysphoria about different things so some folks are dysphoria about their bodies so not every trans person passes. I know lots of trans friends who are like, the most like, do not care about passing. It doesn't make difference. But at least speaking only, I can only speak for my experience, passing a lot of the time for me is super important. Like when I get the right pronouns at Starbucks, it's like the best part of my day.
Elena: Breaking down passing, just for a second. So passing, as I understand it—correct me if I'm wrong, is when you are read as the gender you identify with.
Rob: That is the best way to describe it. So for me as a transmasculine person, it's being perceived as masculine. so a lot of that is social: it's the way you walk, it's the way you dress, it's how you look, it's all these things. So like, I've had people come up to me and be like you pass you really well until you open your mouth and that's a thing! And I'm like why because cause it's almost all social because you think of the masculine voice as the deep voice and I can talk with the deep voice for like 30 seconds then I'm back to normal. Like it's super difficult to like change—try changing your voice. So if you have a really low voice try speaking at a high voice for longer than 15 minutes and you'll see what I mean.
Elena: Harv, I challenge you. Go for it.
Harv: Okay, going back to so...did I understand it correctly that if you are addressed with the wrong pronoun, that can cause dysphoria for you?
Rob: Yup. It's different every day. So let's say someone has messed up my pronouns at a coffee shop and I'm like mmm uncomfortable. So my options are: I go home and cry and it's just I'm just not having my day, I'm just like nope, nope done with humans today, going back home, not going to class, not finishing that test, not doing this thing, going home.
That's one way. I do not like that way, it happens though. Two, I usually text one of my friends who is either genderfluid or trans or somewhere or a really, really understanding cis friend and be like "hey someone messed up my pronouns and I'm sad" and they'll be like "aw, I'm sorry, you're male, you're cool, you're handsome, you're great." It's different every day, there could be days where someone messes up my pronouns and it's like okay, it sucks.
Harv: But the person who is messing up your pronouns is ignorant and not trying to hurt you or in any way trying to insult you?
Rob: But it still hurts. I mean that's the way society could change. They don't have to gender me in a coffee shop, they can be like "aw sweetie." Lots of people—like in my hometown coffee shop they started I noticed, they would always be like lady or gentleman, they would be really gendered and I'm like y'all could try using sweetie. Sweetie I believe is the most gender-neutral term for coffee shops of being like “hi sweetie/”
Harv: But if someone calls me sweetie I will have different ideas.
Elena: The question have you had the surgery or some of the other questions you've gotten are, seem to be rooted in a fascination wth trans people's bodies and an objectification kind of I'd guess you'd say. What drives people's fascination, do you think?
Rob: We're just really weird, man. I'm just really weird, I don't know. So I guess because they argue that like people who, let's say someone has had the surgery and let's, I'm gonna use Laverne Cox as an example because she's actually gorgeous.
Rob: And folks think every trans women should look like Laverne Cox. Laverne Cox is on Orange is the New Black. She's the trans person. If you know a trans person you know of Laverne Cox or you know of Caitlyn Jenner. And I'm also going to use Caitlyn Jenner as an example, not my favourite example, but like the idea of the standards of beauty. So someone has transitioned and looks just the epitome of femme or there's lot of transmasculine folks or guys on Instagram and the amount of buffness they look. Like they've gone from the most beautiful girl to like the most buff man ever.
Elena: Studs, total studs.
Rob: Studs like you would never know they were trans and lots of people think that's how every trans person looks and it’s like no. I think I'm always going to be a very awkward skinny person, I'm just going to maybe have a little bit deeper of a voice and maybe I'll have a moustache. So like I think that's definitely something that people put so much work into and go into so much surgery to look so femme or so masculine or working out like every day but it definitely kind of sucks for other trans people who don't want to do that. So there are trans women I know who don't want to go through like having very very large breasts or having all the surgeries or having bottom surgery or having anything. They just want to be women and taken as women and to be a woman is to be gorgeous and so they're like "I have to spend $20K on these surgeries and maybe those surgeries won't even make me happy." Or trans guys who are just like "I got top surgery and now I gotta look buff. I can't look any different, I can't not have a six pack." Because that's definitely the standards of masculinity, is like having a 6 pack, being buff like that kind of thing.
Voice 4: I think it's appropriate for trans people to ask other trans people like how did you have the surgery, where did you go, how did you apply? These are really important questions, and not just like clinical knowledge but the actual experience of going through trans-related surgeries. It's really important for that information to get disseminated. I think a lot of what we're talking about is how cis people should be acting, behaving around trans people but to trans people who are listening you have to ask these questions, you can't be shy.
Elena: We'll be back with Rob in a moment, but for another perspective our producer Cindy met up with Danielle Araya. She's a coordinator at the Trans Youth mentorship program at the 519 which is a LGBTQ organization here in Toronto. She also brought along some members of her program who you've actually already been hearing from throughout this episode and you'll be hearing more of them here.
Cindy Long: So asking a trans person have you had the surgery, is it an inappropriate question?
Danielle Araya: We call them privates for a reason like that's no one's business unless it's like your mom giving birth to you, or a doctor, or maybe sexual partner. Those should be the only people who actually see if you want them to, if you consent to it. So it depends like why people are asking. You know I always say "buy me dinner and you'll find out" or like a lot of people assume like being trans, you have to have a surgery to kind of be affirmed for who you are, your gender is tied to your sex so if you have a "sex change" in quotation marks—you can't see them but I'm doing them—that is a necessary thing to be the right trans woman or the right trans man. But a lot of people are happy with their genitalia, they're happy with their bodies you know that myth trans people hate their bodies or their brain is in the wrong body, that is a very common misconception.
They are just assuming a trans person is one kind of person or that everyone wants to change sex or change gender from the opposite direction and what is the opposite direction too y'know? A lot of people are genderqueer, a lot of people are non-binary so there's all kinds of different ways people feel about their body parts and being careful around like maybe continuing to uphold surgery as the ultimate kind of way to transition, because I think a lot of people again can't access it, can't afford it, uhh and just not to make people feel guilty or like not worthy if they don't have that surgery. And it's like great to celebrate! I love celebrating all my friends that have surgeries, you got your new vagina yay, like V-party or new penis whatever or y'know phallus. It's fun to have those parties, it's like a new baby right? So you can celebrate those things but just being careful, not again, holding gentialia to a standard that's like "that's who you are."
Cindy: Why do you think people are so fixated on this idea of gender and sex and genitalia?
Danielle: It's kind of how we measure people and sexism is based on y'know sex. So a lot of the social systems we live under are telling men should do this and women should do this and you know a woman's worth is her vagina, her uterus, having babies, having breasts, and having to breastfeed and these kind of primal animalistic kind of ways of looking at human bodies as tools for procreation. So that's why genitalia matters to people. When you're not using it to procreate, like if you're gay or lesbian or some trans people have children but some people don't want to have kids. Maybe trans people are often sterile from hormones or don't have uterus or ovaries or sperm to have children. People always wonder like "you can't have kids like poor you, poor pathetic you" but a lot of people don't need it, right? There's tons of asexual people too and so this emphasis on sex and procreation is based on a lot of cultural, religious norms, expectations because yeah our bodies are so fascinating and so weird sometimes to people that the weirdness is what scares people so they have to figure us out so they don't get so scared anymore. But we're more than just our bodies and I think that's our problem. People need to realize that our genders are our minds, maybe our bodies, our spirits even. There's a holistic approach to who we are rather than just our body parts.
Cindy: You mentioned earlier that your privates are something only your mom, or your doctor or your sexual partner should know. When it comes to dating or romance and that kind of thing, do you get this question a lot or how do you respond to it?
Danielle: From my experience, as a trans woman who dates straight men, it tends to be a really common question. I think that trans women specifically are sexually objectified, fetishized and like the porn industry has made so much money off trans women bodies and the idea that you can have a very feminine body with all the boobs and the hips and the curves and the lips and all that kind of aesthetic but then the penis is there and that's one of the most common desirable things about trans women is that kind of mix between masculine and feminine attributes.
For some men, if a trans woman had the surgery, they're less desirable or less kind of interesting or kinky in a weird way or maybe they prefer us as well. Maybe a cis straight guy will only date a trans girl if she's had it like the surgery and she's almost assimilated into the cis world where she's undetectable and stealth and she’s so passable that no one would know. And unfortunately, it makes people kind of have to pick a side an allegiance or like an extreme where sometimes people in the middle like don't want to conform to those norms or stereotypes. Sometimes it's gets lost in the mix.
Voice 5: A thing that I would prefer if people did would be if they could be like "hey do you mind if I maybe ask you question about your body" or "do you mind if I ask you a question about transitions" so like the person has the option to be like "well yeah, okay I'm feeling in the headspace where I'm able to talk about those things" or "no, I've had a hard day I’d rather not."
Voice 6: If somebody asks me about my pronouns when they meet me, I am so grateful because in that moment, me as a non-binary person, just saves me the labour of putting it there when I don't even know how. So that question is always welcome.
Elena: We're back with Rob Molloy. Rob is there a way people can ask this question more respectfully or should they just go to Google?
Rob: Um, I feel like knowing me for more than fifteen seconds also a plus. Like ask me about dogs, like can we have a conversation that’s something about not about what's under these pants? Like can we have that conversation first? Or if someone just asks me "hey can I ask you a couple questions" and like as long as they're not super invasive, I'm usually cool with answering them. You just have to ask first. And not like questioning my answers, like I understand you're playing devil's advocate and I'm super cool with that it's a podcast situation. But like if someone just starts to argue and be like "you're not a man. You don't have a penis you're not a man" then I'm like "bruh, bruh."
Elena: "Bruh" is a slang term we children use, Harv.
Rob: I don't like bro because it's so masculine so I use bruh.
Elena: Does your daughter say bruh ever?
Harv: Oh Rymn hardly talks to me.
Elena: Awww. Kay, we'll have a—
Rob: That was sad.
Elena: —podcast episode about Harv's family.
Rob: Harv's family 101.
Elena: Keeping up with the Wadwha's.
Rob: I would listen to that so much
Harv: If we are to support or we are to do anything to make this a more fairer society for trans people, what should we be doing?
Rob: Listening is great. Listening to other trans folks' experiences, like not expecting one trans person to speak for all of the trans because there's 775 000 of us in Canada, I can't speak for all of them. Some of them probably have cooler hair than me, ask them questions. Some of them have more background than me, some of them have different lived experiences, like I sit in a place as a white person, as a privileged person, as a person who is upper class, as a person who now has technically the beginnings of a university education. There are lots of trans people in very different situations than me and I can't speak for all of them. So listening is great. I even like sit and listen.
Rob: Being aware of the barriers a trans person could make. So let's say you're hosting an event. How close are your nearest gender-neutral bathrooms? Because I've looked at event pages and they don't say if they have gender-neutral bathrooms and I've considered not going. We did a go-around circle right before this podcast started because I'm really bad with names and I ask name and pronoun. That's one of the biggest ways, as a trans person, to know I am gonna be safe in a room, is if you ask me my pronouns. Especially for my friends who use they/them pronouns. They/them is still becoming—like it's slowly becoming more mainstream and it's super validating to hear someone agreeing with, like, respecting your pronouns.
I'm gonna give one other example of pronouns. When people would go "Oh yeah, this is Rob. She— he— talks like this. Like that's the best way, if you mess up someone's pronouns, correcting them. She— he— and continuing your sentence. Cause going "She— I'm sooo sorry! That must have made you so uncomfortable. I'm such a terrible friend!" Cause now we're sitting here, and I'm like, now I have to feel bad for you, even though you hurt me. And I have to just sit here and be like "It's okay" when like it's not okay and I have to say it's okay and I can't just be like it's not okay cause that makes you more sad and then we're even more like "I'm a terrible friend" and I'm just like [ugh noise].
Elena: And on that noise, I think we should wrap it up. Is there anywhere Rob, just before we leave you, where our listeners can find your social media presences or your work, anything you want to plug.
Rob: So you can find me on social media, I'm on pretty much every social media site under RMMolloy so R M Molloy, that's how you can find me.
Elena: You'll be able to find that on our website iqpodcast.com. Thank you so much, Rob.
Harv: Thank you, Rob.
Harv: I'm Harvinder Wadhwa,
Elena: and I'm Elena Hudgins Lyle.
Harv: Thanks for getting inappropriate with us.
Elena: Thanks to our guests Robert Molloy and Danielle Araya, you heard voicenotes from Ellie, Zara, Lias, Scarlett, and Julie from the Trans Youth Mentorship Program at The 519.
You might not know that we have a accompanying webcomic for every episode of this podcast. This episode our comic was illustrated by JJ Doods. You can find him @JJDoods on Instagram. Follow us on all the socials at IQ_Podcast and talk to us!
Harv: We want to hear from you!
Elena: The brilliant brainiacs behind Inappropriate Questions are Sabrina Bertsch, Erin Guerette, Cindy Long and myself.
Harv: And thank you to our interns and associates Nuha Khan, Pia Araneta, Fariha Ahmed and Hailey Krychman We are supported by the Ryerson University Transmedia Zone.
An inappropriate question is like that lurch in your stomach when you miss a step coming down the stairs.