7 things to know when speaking about transgender people - by Pat Cordova-Goff
1. ‘Transgender’ can be a complex concept.
It is important to mention that the term “transgender” does not stop after MTF (male-to-female) and FTM (female-to-male). In fact, the transgender community also includes people who believe they have no gender, multiple genders, genders that vary by day and are “fluid,” and the list goes on.
2. We are people who have feelings.
I’ve worked so hard to embrace my gender, that a single person’s insult or slight can make that self-acceptance seem futile. I isolate myself to cope, and even though I know this isn’t healthy, it becomes a reflex to deal with attacks on my identity. I’m not the only one who experiences this. It happens when someone makes an insensitive remark or when my community is told to stay in the shadows. The struggle to survive and remain true to our gender is already difficult. Just please remember — we have hearts, too.
3. Let’s not talk about what’s beneath our clothes without permission.
I’ll keep this simple: Never ask a transgender person what their body without clothes looks like.
4. Transitioning is not a selfish act.
To the family members, partners and friends who think they are being betrayed by a loved one who transitions: This is not about you. I did not socially transition to “get back at my mom” or to “embarrass my sisters.” I chose to live as myself because I deserve a happy and true life, and so do all other transgender people.
5. Pronouns are very important.
If you want to be certain of someone’s pronouns, simply and respectfully ask in private, “What are your gender pronouns?”
6. Transphobia is everywhere.
For some transgender people, facing transphobia is a part of daily life. From navigating which restroom, if any, is safe to use, to hiding gender identity at work, our society does not yet accept us all or make it safe for us to be our authentic selves. Understanding this is important in order to understand the transgender community and the battle we are currently up against.
7. Someone’s gender identity story is personal.
I think it is incredible to celebrate diversity in gender. Trailblazers like Orange Is the New Black actress Laverne Cox serve as examples of how transgender people can lead successful and happy lives after coming out. But this does not mean every transgender person would like to share their story when you ask.
These seven things only make up a portion of what you need to understand if you choose to be an ally to the transgender community. If you want to celebrate and support our diversity, I urge you to look away from the media spectacle and speculation, and instead look at what we share in common: a desire to live healthy, happy and authentic lives. [via]