The “Bad Questions” video is a humorous portrayal of a heightened version of me… an exaggerated expression of the fatigue and hurt I feel when asked these questions in real life. I am performing in this video as a comedian, and in comedy we often express truths through exaggeration. Being an activist and an artist leaves me walking a fine line between selflessness and creative expression, and sometimes I lean more one way than the other. In real life, I have always treated questioners with kindness, even when they hurt my feelings to the very core, like kittens who dig their needle claws into you without knowing what they’re doing. You only wince and try to dislodge them with minimum damage, you never hurt them back.

But there is a nugget of truth in what I say in this video. Regardless of how curious and genuine the questioner may be, regardless of how much they feel like they need to understand my situation, that still doesn’t make these questions less hurtful when asked. That is an essential, very important point that I should type twice, it’s so important. Regardless of how good the intentions of the questioner, these questions still hurt many trans people who are asked them.

I’ve had many people respond to this video by saying things like, “I just want to know! Isn’t that a good thing?” and “Aren’t questions a good thing?” Well, yes, it’s a good thing that people want to understand, and yes, having questions is a good thing. But (1) Most of these questions can be answered on the internet and (2) this video lays out questions asked in a specific hurtful way; it doesn’t say any and all questions are “bad”. If one listens to the video, they will see right away exactly *why* I feel like the questions mentioned are “bad”. I explain why in great detail for almost each one.

It boils down to appropriateness in most cases. These are deeply personal questions, and I am often asked them by complete strangers who are obviously suppressing a shudder of thrilled revulsion even as they ask. I believe that most everyone could make a list like this… Police officers, wheelchair users, scuba divers, people with Mohawks. Most everyone gets asked “dumb” questions about something or other on a fairly regular basis, but as trans people our proportion of this goes through the stratosphere.

As I say, it’s a comedic exaggeration of my feelings, but if you listen to what I’m saying, it really does explain why I might feel the way I do for each one. In real life, as you can see in my response video, I am the soul of kindness and understanding. But I wanted to lay a little honest anger out there, too. I feel like, after a decade of these questions, I deserve that bit of release.

Calpernia

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