Man Shares The Response His 80-Year-Old Grandma's Book Club Had When She Asked Him To Explain Trans People To Them

"We assume older people are anti-trans when, in reality, a lot of people just don't understand it."

man with trans pride flag nito100 / Getty Images / Canva Pro

Most of us reflexively assume that elderly people are old-fashioned and set in their ways, and that makes them closed-minded and out of touch with modern times — especially when it comes to things like LGBTQ+ issues.

But one trans man's recent experience with a whole group of octogenarians showed the exact opposite, and it provides a lesson — not to mention a ray of hope — for all of us.

The trans man was asked to explain trans people to his grandma's book club.

Almost every Queer person has been asked to do something like this at one time or another, this writer included. Admittedly, when trans TikToker Sasha Allen's video about his encounter came up in my feed, I immediately rolled my eyes.


It's a lot to ask of a Queer person because these conversations so often become a referendum on your basic humanity. You end up put on the spot, having to justify your existence to people who were never really asking in good faith in the first place.

RELATED: Why It's Terrifying To Be Queer And Trans Right Now


Given the ways transgender people are currently under attack in our country, the stakes are even higher for them. But Allen's experience couldn't have gone more differently than expected.

Allen's 80-year-old grandma asked him to explain trans people after her book club read a novel that centers on a trans character.

It all began when Allen's 80-year-old grandmother called him to tell him about the novel they'd just finished in her book club, Jodi Picoult and Jennifer Finney Boylan's "Mad Honey," which centers in part on a trans character.

Allen had read and loved the book, and that was all his grandma needed to hear. "She was like, Sasha, when we have book club next month, I want you to FaceTime in and answer people's questions and talk about the transgender experience," his grandma said.

@sash1e like im talking 80 year olds with all different political affiliations . Crazy - #fyp #foryou #lgbt #trans #gay #trending #taylorswift #transgender #storytime ♬ original sound - sasha allen

Allen was immediately wary for obvious reasons. "That's scary because it's a group of people who grew up in, like, the forties, and I wouldn't even blame them for not understanding trans people whatsoever," Allen said.


"But you know me," Allen went on to say. "I go, '100% grandma, I'm there. FaceTime me in.'"

His grandma's friends were in their 80s and of all different political affiliations but they didn't have the response Allen expected.

"I was nervous," Allen said of the FaceTime call. "I don't know how they're going to react to a trans person talking about being trans."

Seniors are, after all, the largest conservative voting bloc by substantial margins. 70% of GOP voters in the 2022 midterms were over the age of 50, and the older a person is, the more likely they are to be a member of the Republican Party, which has made ideological and legislative attacks against LGBTQ+ and especially transgender people a cornerstone of its platform in recent years.

Some of the seniors in Allen's grandma's book club are Republicans, too. But he found they didn't at all hew to the expected views of trans people. In fact, it was precisely the opposite, to a degree that left Allen surprised.


"Let me tell you, these lovely elderly people genuinely wanted to understand things," Allen said.

"These are people who have probably never knowingly interacted with a trans person in their life, and they're literally just like, 'what does that feel like? How do you know that you're transgender? What's the difference between someone being homosexual and someone being transgender?'"

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Allen left the conversation feeling hopeful and urged others to recognize that a lack of understanding isn't necessarily a lack of acceptance.

Allen said the conversation felt very "hope-core" to him in a way he didn't expect. "We assume older people are anti-trans. In reality, a lot of people just don't understand it and like, want questions answered and like, maybe don't know how to use Google."

"If you're trans and you feel like the world is against you," he went on to say, "the fact that I can FaceTime into my grandma's book club of people with all different political affiliations and like — whatever they just want to understand trans people? That's hope."

@lgbtqwriting i felt safe somewhere i’ve always felt nervous 🏳️‍⚧️ #trans #hopecore #kindnessmatters #transally #ally #planetfitness ♬ Stories 2 - Danilo Stankovic

He's absolutely right. Those of us on the more open-minded side of the social and political spectrum often tend to assume the worst intentions in those who aren't on our side. There's a necessity for that, of course, especially for trans people. You have to keep yourself safe. Wariness is in order.


But it is also the case that sometimes people just need a human-to-human interaction and a dose of human experience — which no amount of Googling can really provide — in order to understand people different from them.

It's no one's responsibility to provide that for others if they don't feel equipped. But there is often a tendency to react angrily instead — to say that "you should know by now" or to snipe that "Google is free."

That can put otherwise reachable people on the defensive and close their minds and ears. I've seen it happen firsthand, and personally, I believe this dynamic is part of how we ended up in this heartbreaking, terrifying, and dangerous political climate in the first place.


Nobody ever won over hearts and minds with scolding and shame. You get either obedience or rebellion, and leveraging the latter has been vital for bigoted politicians and other bad actors to grow their ranks.

It doesn't have to be that way because, as Allen's experience proves, there are a lot of people out there who, as misguided as they may be, are more uninformed than they are hateful.

Many are just trying to understand. If we're willing to be the voice that gets to them first, it can change everything.

RELATED: ChatGPT-Written Bible Verse On How Jesus Feels About Trans People Sparks Discussion About What The Bible Actually Says About Gender

John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers pop culture, social justice and human interest topics.