In case you didn’t already realize this, Generation Z appears to be smarter and more aware of things — or at least a million times more empathetic — than old folks like us, and we would do well to listen to them on topics such as racism, the environment, and LGBTQ+ issues. One Canadian teen didn’t exactly mean to be our instructor on “very basic trans etiquette,” but that’s just what happened with the thread he posted after Elliot Page came out as a trans man on Tuesday .
The thread 17-year-old Martin posted on Tuesday has gone so viral, even Page’s wife Emma Portner posted it to her Instagram stories as a kind of FAQ.
“So in light of elliot page coming out, i’m gonna remind you guys of basic, Very Basic trans etiquette in this thread,” Martin, who is also trans, begins in a Tweet that’s received 78,000 retweets so far.
“You don’t use their birth name. ever. that shit is dead, you forget that it even existed,” is rule No. 1. “‘She is now a he’ is the worst phrase, drop it. Correct people!!! if they use!!!! the wrong pronouns!!! Don’t fucking ask people what surgeries they’ve had/are planning on having.”
Martin tells people to apologize but not to make a huge deal out of mistakenly using the wrong pronouns, and then to make an effort to get it right. Other basic rules: Don’t ask about sexuality, and don’t think that “I never would have known you were trans,” is a compliment.
In a nutshell, it’s all about respecting people. Still, the details of how to do so are new territory for a lot of people, and many who want to be allies are afraid to ask the trans people in their lives. There are even many people in the press getting this wrong when it comes to using Elliot Page’s dead name. Martin’s thread blew up because it answered a lot of those questions.
In replies, Martin and others continue the conversation, informing people about how to alternate between “he” and “they” pronouns when people like Page have said they use both. They discuss using those pronouns to refer to the actor in the past as well, because this is who they’ve always been.
“As a cis white male from a trailer park who is closer to 40 than he is to 30, reading stuff like this is important for me to learn and grow as an ally to all marginalized demographics that are fighting for equality and clarity,” Paul Brown replied.
This is huge: People are openly admitting that teenagers know more than they do and are opening themselves up to learning from them. Many of us were over 40 before anyone asked us our pronouns, but we are gradually following the lead of those who’ve been doing this since they were in middle school.
None of this is what Martin expected to happen. The film student made a hilarious YouTube video on Wednesday reacting to going so viral, and titled it, “I went viral on Twitter for asking the bare minimum.”
“I was literally just trying to provide some basic trans etiquette, like here’s how you be a basic, respectful human being to a trans person,” he said in the video. “And it popped off, because apparently people didn’t know this stuff. Which, I’m so glad that it popped off because now it means that more people do know this stuff. … That’s all I wanted from this thread was to educate people, and it was working.”
There were, of course, some awful, transphobic replies in the thread. But Martin said that the vast majority have been people thanking them and pledging to spread the information they’ve learned.
“There are still conversations going on that are educating other people,” he said. “It’s so amazing to see that people are learning and growing. And hopefully one day this thread will just be common knowledge. That’s the end goal.”
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