To the Cis Artist Who Wants to Tell a Trans Story

An open letter from an exhausted trans person.

Devon Price

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A faceless person typing on a laptop. Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

So you’re working on some art about what it’s like to be transgender. And you’re not transgender. But you think it’s so important that trans stories get told. You think it’s so vital for cis people to understand what being trans is like. You care about trans people, and you want to show that you care by telling trans stories.

You must think it’s a good thing, what you’re doing. You’re trying so hard. You care so much. And you want to get it right! And so now you’re asking me, a trans person, for some free work on your project. You made an attempt at a draft, and you’re sure it’s not perfect. Now you’d like me to look over it and help you clean up the mess your ignorance created.

It’s not the first time I’ve been asked to help cis people tell trans stories, and it definitely won’t be the last. I’ve been asked to read TV pilots, podcast scripts, and chapbooks. I’ve read short-stories, fan fiction, and poems. I’ve commented on web comics and smut and plays. All hand-wringingly, imperfectly crafted by cis people, each a vague stab at explaining what it’s like to be a trans person.

I’m not reading that shit anymore. I’m not giving feedback on it. It’s a waste of my time. I’m not fixing cis people’s tired, tropey trans stories anymore. I’m not enabling that kind of arrogance. I’m telling stories of my own.

But since you asked me for feedback, cis artist, I will give you some. Not about individual details of your work. Oh no. Hell no. I’m not going to even read your work. I’m sure it’s full of cute little moments and strange, misplaced details that only a trans person would realize ring false — I’m not here to fix that. That’s your problem.

The feedback I’m going to give is more about the act of creation, and frankly, the arrogance of it.

I want you to ask yourself, “Why do I think I, a cis person, should be the person to tell this story?”

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Devon Price

He/Him or It/Its. Social Psychologist & Author of LAZINESS DOES NOT EXIST and UNMASKING AUTISM. Links to buy: https://linktr.ee/drdevonprice