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Ask Ian Trans Advice Column

A Trans Advice Column

This addition to the About Trans section is designed to aid in the spread of information about transgender-related topics. All questions are welcome from all walks of life. This includes cisgender, transgender, and non-conforming people. Questions may be edited for content, and all names are changed to protect anonymity.

Please submit your questions to ian@about-online.com

Q: I’ve met some people recently who are transgender, and they use acronyms that I have never heard. I want to be a better friend to them, and I’m a little uncomfortable asking them what they mean when they use these terms. Can you give me a breakdown of the most common phrases used that could help me follow these conversations with them?


Stop Fucking Killing Us

Trans transgender safety murder

Elizabeth Davidson discusses trans visibility and safety.

2017 now stands as the deadliest year on record for trans people in the United States. At the moment I’m writing this, twenty-seven trans people have been murdered in this country … and we’ve still got a month left. I would personally be willing to bet that two more trans people will be murdered by New Year’s Eve. (*Since writing that previous sentence last week, I’ve attended a vigil for a trans woman of color, Brandi Seals, who was murdered here in Houston. Citing numbers seems pointless now that the numbers are rising almost too quickly to keep track.)  Why is this happening? Is it because more and more of us trans people are coming out and living as our authentic selves? Are we seeing a pushback by bigots who can’t stand seeing us happy?  Or is the rhetoric of conservative politicians emboldening their supporters to attack us? In my opinion, it’s all of the above.

We used to be just a side-show attraction – if you have a free afternoon and a deep-seated desire to wound your soul – you can watch any number of Maury episodes that invite audience members to guess “is it a man or a woman?” Now, however, people take us seriously. And isn’t that just nuts? Likewise, if you’re loathing yourself or genuinely just find your curiosity piqued to know what the world has to say about trans people, you can tune into conservative media and hear about how “the transgenders” are out to get the women and children of America. But there still stands the fact that in 48 states, the murderer of a trans person can claim that they were “freaked out” to the point of murder, and will receive a less severe sentencing than if they’d simply pled guilty. That alone makes me think that in a lot of places around the country, any  reason to murder trans people is a good reason.

So what do we do about this? Honestly, if I had a way to change the hearts and minds of the country (or at least daytime TV programming), I would have already used that power a long time ago. Honestly, it’s going to take a united effort by more than just the trans community to convince the world that murder is bad; so, if you were hoping to find an easy solution to this problem in this essay, I’m sorry to disappoint you. However, there are some simple things we can do that can help make our lives easier, happier, and hopefully a little safer.

#1 Come Out!

I know that it’s scary and difficult; and yes, I know we have to do it over-and-over again to many different people, as it is rarely believed that we know who we are.I’ve come out to my family so many times that I’ve lost count. Are they supportive? For the most part, no. Maybe they’ll come around and realize through knowing me that trans people aren’t creepy weirdos lurking in bathrooms, but instead are bright, funny, talented, beautiful people. Conversely, they may leave me alone and stop telling me, “You have evil in your soul.” But by coming out, you’re letting others  know that they already know a trans person. And if people know one of us, it’s harder for them to believe the lies about us. We have a superpower here. A magical ability. You have the potential to change someone’s mind for the better. Now, be safe about how and when you decide to come out. If you think coming out will endanger your life or well-being, come up with a strategy so you can be safe and be yourself. Above all, I want you alive and well and able to shine your unique light into the world.

#2 Find your tribe.

I’ve found mine in a number of places. I realized my transness through drag performance; and my friends in the drag scene are still some of the kindest, sweetest, and loudest champions and supporters I have. Also, going to trans support groups when I needed them helped me find a community of trans men, women, and non-binary folks that I still turn to and rely on some 2+ years into my transition. Because my birth family isn’t so great, my family of choice consists of the people I love and who love me back unconditionally, as any real family (birth or chosen) should. Having a tribe means having a place where you know you belong, and a group of people who are concerned for your wellbeing and safety—people who will check on you and encourage positive, safe, healthy living.

#3 Watch your back!

It sucks and it’s going to sound like I’m putting the burden on us to not become victims, which is not my intention. With that said, it’s clearly a dangerous time to be trans. Don’t tell anyone that the funny-looking object on my keychain is actually pepper spray, but that’s what it is.I’ve been attacked before, and I don’t want that to happen again, to me or to anyone else. Talk to some cis girls about how they protect themselves—they’ve been dealing with creeper dudes since they were kids. Maybe Karen at work has some tips? Remember, Tiffany at the coffee shop told you to get your keys out of your purse *before* walking out to the parking garage! Bond with these people who can advise you on safety and maybe they’ll even end up being in your tribe.

There’s been a lot of stress and political upheaval this past year, and maybe that’s been driving the violence against the trans community. Personally, I hope 2018 calms down. Perhaps drawing attention to the issue will wake up the rest of the country. For information on resources and where you might find your tribe, contact About Magazine, the Montrose Center, Legacy Community Health, or search Facebook for groups to join.

And cis people, DON’T BE SILENT! If you hear a friend, family member, or coworker making jokes or disparaging comments about trans people, call them out and educate them. We need your help, because the only way we can change the world is if we do it together.

About Adds New Editors, New Business

2018 Will Bring New Editors Into About Magazine, About Editions, The Magazine’s Publishing Company.

(HOUSTON) – In addition to its new trans-specific content page, About Magazine will be adding two new editors to its staff in 2018. The first of which is Jessica Olsen, who will serve as the assistant editor for About Magazine under editor-in-chief, Anthony Ramirez. The second of which will be Ian Townsley, who will serve as the associate editor for About’s trans-content page, About Trans. Additionally, Ramirez’s publishing company, Black Magic Media, will be absorbed by About Magazine in December. The new publishing company will be a branch of About Magazine, called About Editions.

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Olsen has worked with Ramirez at Black Magic Media as the editor of fiction. Her responsibilities will include content editing and generating creative ideas for new content. Though not LGBTQIA herself, Olsen is an avid supporter of LGBTQIA rights and an ally to the entire community.

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Townsley is an outspoken advocate for the trans community who hosts support groups at the Montrose Center and local churches around Houston. He is also a drag king who performs in and puts on numerous benefits to serve the trans community in obtaining gender-affirmative surgery. Additionally, he has taken on the endeavor of helping trans people legally change their gender status. Syder-Blake himself is an out trans man.

Though Black Magic Media was not strictly LGBTQIA content before (though many of its titles were written by queer writers), it will be after it’s first season of books. The first book, a collection of poetry by Short Story America prize winner Mathieu Cailler (May I Have This Dance?) will be released December 14th, 2017. The remaining books to be published throughout 2018 are How to Break My Neck (Jessica L. Walsh), Heart Radicals (Les Kay, Sandra Marchetti, Allie Marini, and Janeen Rastall), Lifelong Learning (Ezekiel Jarvis), the second edition of Ramirez’s novel Witches of the Deep SouthSpace Baby (Nicole Oquendo), Nesting (Kristen Figgins), Lady Leda’s Dancing Girls (Amber Edmondson), q & a (Steven and Ben Ostrowski), i was born dead (Caseyrenée Lopez), Maleficium (Witches of the Deep South #2 (Ramirez), Naomi and the Reckoning (Christine Stoddard), and Shotgun Mirage (David Rawson).

Mathieu Cailler’s May I Have This Dance can be pre-ordered here.

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Ask Ian #2

Ask Ian Trans Advice Column

A Trans Advice Column

11899942_413493005505053_8390096606907780785_n-e1519059210512-296x300 Ask Ian #2This addition to the About Trans section is designed to aid in the spread of information about transgender-related topics. All questions are welcome from all walks of life. This includes cisgender, transgender, and non-conforming people. Questions may be edited for content, and all names are changed to protect anonymity.

Please submit your questions to ian@about-online.com


I have a friend who is a trans man. I have known this guy since he was a girl. I mean, he looked like a girl and lived as one. I never knew that he would transition over to male, but because I’ve known him a long time, it’s very hard for me to call him by his male name and use the correct pronouns. I keep slipping up and calling him his birth name; and I know it bothers him but he’s been very understanding so far. I love him with all of my heart and want to respect him. How can I make the switch in my head so that we can both come to terms with his transition and move forward?


Congratulations, my friend! You’re already most of the way there! It can be hard to make the switch, and I’m glad he is giving you time and patience. In the meantime, I would sit down to have a talk with him about how he feels, and maybe seek some understanding about what it means to be trans. Even more than that, discuss how he wants to be referred to when speaking about his past.  

The most important thing you can remember is that when you make a mistake, and you will, apologize quickly, correct yourself, and move on. Don’t make a big deal out of it, because that can be much more upsetting. In the end, you’ll find that you make these mistakes less and less, until you see him as he is now, not how he was.

So, I started taking hormones about a month ago, and things are great! I swear that everything is changing really fast. When I talk to my friends and family, they say nothing is different yet, and it’s all in my head. Who is right? I don’t think I’m crazy, but I really do think things are different already!


I know exactly how you feel! When I started testosterone, I felt like everyone should recognize the changes right away!

To start, let’s just say right off the bat that you aren’t crazy. The changes you feel are absolutely there, even if they aren’t visible. Cross-sex hormones will start to work on your brain first, and will begin to rewire the way you think and feel. As far as changes on the outside, they will take some time to become apparent. It can be hard to explain the differences in how you feel; but trust that, with time, other people will see the changes, too. Having patience with your transition is the hardest part in my opinion!

I’m transgender, and I’m not able to start hormones yet. I’ve been thinking about trying some of those testosterone boosters you see in stores. Will it work?


Great question, and I’m glad you asked before trying something like this.

The supplements that you find over the counter are not meant for transgender men. They do not work on the type of testosterone we have naturally in our bodies, so any changes you see will be very minor, if any at all. These boosters can cause some serious side effects, namely liver damage. The cost is much too high, with little-to-no payoff. I do not advise taking anything over the counter. The only proven, safe method of transition is cross-sex hormone therapy overseen by a licensed physician.

I have a friend who started to take hormones, and she’s so emotional! I don’t know how to tell her that the hormones are making her crazy, but I don’t think they’re good for her. Any advice?


The first thing to remember is that your friend is going through some major changes, and that can be hard on anyone. It’s vital that you be as understanding as possible, and recognize that what she’s going through is necessary in order for her to become the person she is.

Please remember that when you talk to her, don’t say that you think her hormones are hurting her. They aren’t, they’re doing a lot to help her become the person she was always meant to be. Sit down with your friend and ask her how you can help. Let her know that you notice she’s much more emotional lately, and see if there is anything she wants to share with you. Transition can be a difficult time for most of us, and if she knows you have her best interests at heart, it will go a long way to helping her adjust. Support systems are our most important resource!