Transphobia and cissexism have a serious and significant impact on the health and well-being of transgender and non-binary individuals. Discrimination prevents people from being their authentic selves and accessing the supports and services that they need.
Because most people don’t know how they may be contributing to transphobia, we came up with a list of suggestions for what to avoid and how to show your explicit support to people who are transgender.
- Use the person’s current name and pronouns, whichever ones they shared with you to use.
- Normalize pronouns by sharing your own when meeting someone new.
- When telling stories from the past, use the person’s current name and pronouns. Do not use their old name and old pronouns just because the story takes place during a time they “used to be —“.
- Do your own homework and research. There are many reliable books, documentaries, blogs, and articles to get information from.
- Call or email us, or use our question box (the orange floating box on the right!). It can be emotionally draining for trans people to educate others over and over again. Try to remember you probably aren’t the only person in their life they have to be educating and explaining this stuff to.
- Reflect on your own privilege and how systems are likely designed for you.
- When talking about what the doctor assigned a baby at birth say “assigned male/female at birth”.
- Learn about the differences between gender and sexual orientation. Someone’s gender doesn’t tell us anything about who they may like or fall in love with.
- Learn about all forms of transition. Many people assume that all transgender people want to take hormones and have surgery. This can lead to a lot of unwanted pressure to conform to this idea.
- Recognize that trans women also deal with sexism on top of transphobia.
- Learn about non-binary trans identities. Not all trans people identify as “men” or “women.” Many trans people and genderqueer people identify as both, as neither, or as something all together different.
- Throw away the idea that all transgender people feel “trapped in the wrong body.” This is an over-simplification and not all trans people feel this way.
- Think about what makes you feel uncomfortable and why.
- Recognize the diversity of transgender people’s lives, and that these identities are part of other identities that often intersect with race, class, sexual orientation, ability, etc.
- Talk about trans issues/rights. Engage people in discussions and share your knowledge. The majority of the “information” people have surrounding trans people are stereotypes and assumptions.
- Share that a person is transgender (otherwise known as “outing” someone). This can be dangerous for them or show you don’t believe their identity.
- Ask a trans person what their “real” name is. If you do know their old name, don’t share it with others.
- Use words like bio or real (“biologically male” or “a real girl”) use trans and cisgender instead.
- Say someone was “born as a girl/boy.”
- Ask trans people about their bodies, how they have sex, if they have a penis/vagina, etc. This includes asking someone if they have had surgery or if they take hormones.