The transgender community is as complex as it is diverse. Members of this community come from every inch of the globe and from different ethnic and racial backgrounds as well as various religions. Further to this, various members of the transgender community will have diverse priorities and needs.
There is, therefore, no one right way of handling interactions with each member of the transgender community. The best thing you can do it try your best to be respectful. Let’s take a look at some things you should know when speaking to transgender people.
1. Transgender is Not A Simple Concept
The word ‘transgender’ is used to describe someone whose gender identity doesn’t match or isn’t in alignment with the sex that they were assigned at birth. For instance, doctors could have assigned a child as a ‘girl’ when they were born, but, as the child grows, they realize that they’re a different gender.
While speaking to a transgender person, you should realize that they are still transgender even after FTM (female-to-male) or MTF (male-to-female). You should also be aware that the transgender community consists of people who believe they have multiple genders, no gender, or are gender fluid.
2. They Have Feelings Too
A lot of times, people who don’t understand marginalized communities tend to dehumanize them. However, you should always remember that members of the transgender community are humans too and they’ve got feelings too. Transgender people are attacked, harassed, and assaulted countless number of times and the emotional pain that comes with such negative experiences is overwhelming.
When you’re in the company of a transgender person, try as hard as you can to embrace their gender and treat them respectfully. They’re already facing so many challenges so it would help if you remembered that they were humans too.
3. It’s Important To Use Their Preferred Pronouns
In general, people are socialized to use gender pronouns that are assumed to be the right fit. For instance, we might use ‘her’ because we assume the gender identity one is assigned at birth is the right one. So, what happens when their identity doesn’t match what was assigned to them at birth?
It’s essential to find out any set of pronouns one prefers so that you can refer to them the correct way. Gender identity isn’t an easy win for most transgender people and it can be extremely hurtful when you refer to them using the wrong pronouns. Unfortunately, referring to someone by the wrong pronouns can make them feel unsafe and close up. If you’d like to show your respect for a transgender person, simply ask them respectfully what their gender pronouns are.
When interacting with a transgender person, the baseline is that you should always be respectful. Remember that everyone’s gender identity story is personal. Don’t expect that everyone is always ready to share their story. Coming out may not have been the best experience for them.
Remember to celebrate the diversity in gender. While the three points we’ve mentioned are only a small slice of the cake, there’s so much more you can learn about the transgender community as long as you keep an open mind.