Moving to a new place is hard. Making new friends can be harder. And, sometimes we fumble as we try to connect with people who are different from ourselves. Queer people (lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgender, gender non-conforming, nonbinary, intersex and others) have the added task of “coming out” to new people each and every day. Here are seven questions to avoid asking while you get to know your queer housemate.
Never ask: What is your real name? They’ve told you. Respect their chosen name and call them as such. This question is especially insensitive to transgender people.
Never change the they pronoun to he or she if your housemate chooses to use this pronoun. Gender is not binary. It is disrespectful to intentionally misgender someone. Using they or their may take some getting used to. Practice if you need to and apologize if you forget.
Never ask a person that identifies as bisexual or pansexual which gender they like the most. This implies that the person needs to conform to being gay or straight and doesn’t leave room for the spectrum of sexuality.
Never ask about what goes on in their bedroom. You may be forthcoming about your intimate relationships, but that doesn’t mean that your housemate must reciprocate.
Never ask your queer housemate about their body parts. Avoid questions such as: Why do you bind your chest? Are your boobs fake? Have you had “the surgery”? Can you still have children? These questions are off limits.
Our best advice: Ask yourself if your questions, comments or suggestions would be offensive in any way to someone else. If you are unsure, it is best to keep it to yourself. As your relationship evolves into a friendship, your housemate may eventually volunteer answers to some of your curiosities. Until then, it is best not to ask.