Living life is difficult enough in 2016, and the world can be a dangerous and difficult place, so here are five things not to say to someone who identifies as transgender or gender non-conforming to ensure the people that make them happy always strive to say and do the right things to ensure the happy areas of those peoples lives remain bright.
1. Don’t take things personally
Learning anything in life can be a difficult process and there’s always times when you’re going to get it wrong via pronouns or making presumptions and that’s ok, but don’t take it personally when we ask you to respect and observe our pronouns. We aren’t attacking you, and we aren’t being unreasonable. Be aware that it can be a situation where we are fed up and frustrated with the fact that we are constantly being misgendered, and it can come out as being aggressive or even rude, but just remember that this is important and for so many people it’s a situation that can anxiety inducing or stressful. This is about us for this moment and remember that, be courteous and acknowledge how much it could’ve taken to say this to you.
2. Be Patient
Don’t judge us based on what you have seen in TV. Caitlyn Jenner isn’t your usual everyday trans person, not everyone can afford to transition with such speed, and some people can’t afford/don’t feel like they need to physically transition to be the gender they identify with (which is completely ok and don’t force someone to transition physically so that they can ‘pass’. Don’t push people into what you think they should be doing. We know the journey, we know the processes and most likely we know what we need to do next, so don’t force us into moving onto the next step because we know what the next step is and we are most likely working towards it at our own pace. And we will also have patience with you when it comes to pronouns and adjustments because we know it’s not always easy.
3. Don’t tell someone they’re ‘not trans enough’
Transgender is an identification all in its self, but is also an umbrella term for many many many different gender identities that fall under the gender non- conforming umbrella. Non-binary and gender-queer are trans identities that fall outside the binary of male and female. You can’t tell people that they’re NOT trans enough just because you think that trans has to be a full ‘passable’ transition from male/female to female/male, because it isn’t. Never invalidate someone’s gender, no matter how hard it is for you to get your head around it. Imagine what it’s like for them.
4. Do your homework
We aren’t saying that you have to know the ins and outs of every situation there is EVER to do is with gender, but be aware of what things that could be upsetting, know what’s ignorant and what isn’t. Most trans people prefer if you ask than presume, it’s a lot easier to deal with, compared to having to correct someone who has misgendered you. Like I’ve said we aren’t expecting you to know everything, and what’s important is that you listen to the individual person because most of the time the answer is personal to the person and they might want something that strays from convention. And be open to learn, because learning is a continual process not just for the person who identifies this way, but for the people aro nd them as well.
5. Just Be There
This is a difficult and sometimes scary time for the person who identifies this way. They will face challenges they’re not willing to share yet, and you need to be aware of that, and be there for them when they decide to talk to you about them, if they even do. Family problems, economic peobems, lack of employment opportunities – which I have found this summer, and potential mental health issues. Know that support can be hard to come by and yours could be the only support they’re receiving. Go with them when they ask you to go with them to the bathroom, yes it sounds silly but it’s easier than being scared as fuck on your own. Don’t invalidate them and just be there for them, that’s all we ask.