a painting of the author, the description of the blog, and his URL: rickkitagawa.com/blog

Common Inadvertent Aggressions

When in a setting where people get to share how they want to show up in terms of their identities, if they don’t share it, don’t point it out or really make a big deal about it unless they share it.

“You use ‘they’ pronouns, so you’re trans, right?”

“Your last name is Lee, are you Chinese?”

“You look pretty white to me, is your name Karen?”  

You might have the best intent, but these are not helpful at building connection – it’s actually detrimental.  Remember: if the people you say stuff like this to are smiling, it’s probably to hold back their incredulity at your ignorance.

If you can’t figure out someone’s ethnic background, sexual orientation, gender, or other key part about their identity, and they haven’t talked about it and you’re dying to know – tough luck.  

Let them bring it up first, even if you think you’re in the same identity group.

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