Key Terms: Transgender -a person who identifies as something other than their gender assigned at birth.
Cisgender - someone who agrees with their gender assigned to them at birth. The opposite of transgender.
Gender Identity - an individual’s sense of their own gender. This can align with their gender assigned at birth (cisgender) or not (transgender). Some gender identities include “womyn” “transman” and “agender”.
Sexual Orientation - a person’s identity in relation to the gender to which they are attracted. Such as bisexual, and heterosexual.
Respect everyone’s pronouns.
If you don’t know what pronouns to use, ask.
Do ask everyone their pronouns.
By asking everyone their pronouns you help normalize it for society. Asking can seem off putting for some people you wouldn’t assume someone’s name so why would you not ask their pronouns.
Transgender people are not your spokesperson. Their job is not to educate you.
Do not rely on them for answers about the entire community. Educate yourself. Transvivor is a good starting place.
Don’t assume anyone’s gender.
Using gender inclusive language is important.
It helps transgender people feel welcome but also helps cisgender people who do not fall neatly into their own boxes of gender.
Understand cisgender privilege.
As a cisgender person, you do not have to fear using the restroom in public, you can go to an airport and not be questioned about your ID, and you have easier access to jobs and housing. Recognizing that your job is not to understand transgender people’s lives but to advocate for equal rights and access.
Know the difference between gender identity, gender expression, sexual identity, and biological sex.
This is a large topic that can’t be covered in a couple of sentences. You can visit the link here or look at the gender dragon.
Do not tolerate anti-transgender remarks or hate speech.
Transphobia happens all around us and without allies the transgender community is under constant attack.
You cannot tell someone is transgender by looking at them.Help keep Transvivor alive.Make a purchase through our Amazon link.A portion of the proceeds will be used to help LGBTQ+ youth.
There is more than one way to be trans and therefore many ways that trans people can look. Not every trans person wants to break down the binary and not every transgender person acts androgynous.
Don’t assume a transgender person’s sexual orientation.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are two separate things. Gender identity is a form of expression about identity. Sexual orientation is who you love. Transgender people can be straight, bi, lesbian, asexual, skoliosexual, etc.
Do ask about confidentiality.
Transgender people can be out in some places and not in others. It is best to ask them when it is okay to call them their chosen names and pronouns or when it is unsafe to do so.
Understand the difference between coming out as transgender and coming out as “gay, bi, lesbian, etc.”.
Transgender people come out as their authentic self though others perceive this coming out process as an act of deception and view transgender people as their assigned sex. Unlike when someone reveals their sexuality and others perceive this as a revealed truth.
Be patient with someone who is questioning their gender identity.
Some transgender people question their identity and quickly find a name and pronouns that fit the presentation they want. Others take longer and can have a difficult time understanding their own gender identity. Just give them time.
Don’t tell a person which category or identity they fit in.
This is not for you to decide some transgender people also identify as cisgender. There are a multitude of labels and when someone finds one that fits who they are it belongs to them and empowers them. Give them time to discover this for themselves.
Don’t ask about a person’s status around hormones or surgeries.
Transition is a personal journey and some transgender people choose to share while others don’t. Not every transgender person wants to have gender confirmation surgeries and hormones. Some want neither and some want one or the other. There are no guidelines for the transition because it is a very personal decision.
Don’t ask transgender people how they have sex.
What happens in the metaphorical “bedroom” is not a shared experience but rather a private one. Straight cisgender people are not asked about how they get intimate with people, so why ask a transgender person. Most transgender people only share this information with people they are close with.
Don’t ask about a transgender person’s “real” name.
The name a transgender person gives you is their real name. Birth names for transgender people can cause them a lot of anxiety. They could be worried about no longer being perceived as their gender identity, or could be put in harm’s way when “outted”.
Use cis- instead of bio-, real-, or genetic.
When addressing people, who are not transgender by calling them real or biological it implies that transgender people’s experiences and identities are not real.
You don’t need to understand someone’s identity to respect it.
There are many gender identities and expressions in the world. Even people in the transgender community don’t understand all of them. This isn’t an excuse to not respect someone gender identity or expression though.
Use inclusive language everywhere.
Be aware of how you use gendered language such as “guys and gals”. “Guys, gals, and non-binary pals” becomes inclusive of all expressions when addressing groups, making people of transgender experience feel welcome.
Instead of saying someone was born a girl, they were assigned female at birth.
This helps make a clear distinction between gender and biological sex, though you should also ask if it is appropriate that you share someone’s assigned sex.
Don’t assume transgender people all feel trapped in their bodies.
While transgender people may feel dysphoria many of them also accept that their bodies are theirs. Some transgender people believe that they do have the correct body but that others just perceive it as wrong.
Not every transgender person identifies as male or female.
The most commonly known labels for transgender people are transman and transwoman. These two fall into the gender binary though there are many more transgender people who identify as gender nonconforming. This group is often over looked especially when it comes to rights and resources.
Do continue to educate yourself.
Transvivor is a great starting place but don't stop here.
Volunteer and advocate for the transgender community and become an active ally.