It is considered to be quite rude to tell a trans person that you have clocked them. It’s triggering, demeaning, and alienates us. Even when couched in the friendliest of terms, it can come across as “Ha! Got you, you sneaky tranny. You can’t hide from me.” Worse is when cis people try to explain, in detail, how they could tell. (I don’t pass well enough that this has been a problem yet; if I pass for anything it is as a boy, but I have it on good authority that this happens all the time.) Usually, this results in us having yet another part of our body to feel uncomfortable about.
But what happens when you’re trans, and you see another trans person out and about, and you want to show solidarity?Just walk up and say, hi, right? No. It’s not that simple. They might be trying for stealth. They might actually be cis. Even if there isn’t a misunderstanding, you might still trigger them or make them feel uncomfortable by letting them know they are visible. (Worst, they might be a separatist douchebag. More on that later today.)
This is why I keep ships-passing-in-the-night with other trans chicks around town. I see them. They see me. We both know. We keep our mouths shut and don’t talk to each other. Because we might be wrong. Because we might offend each other. Because we don’t know how to say hello.
So how do you say hi to another trans person without making it awkward? (Trick question: you can’t. Get two or more of us together in a public place, and we create a singularity of insecurity from which no woman’s self esteem may escape intact.) How do we at least make it polite?