To many people’s knowledge, the only pronouns you can use to refer to a person are “he” and “she”; in this space, we’ll try to change that whilst learning simple demeanors that will help us and everyone around us.
There are some basic manners everyone needs to be aware of regarding the way we treat and refer to someone known as trans (or not). I didn’t know anyone had written it down until I found the GLAAD’s “Tips for Allies of Transgender People” back in late 2017, which I just learnt is actually an improved adaptation of MIT’s “Action Tips for Allies of Trans People” written in 2006. I invite you to check those out; however, I made a little guide myself and I’m bringing it to you today.
The correct actions and attitudes
I’ll say it in a very understandable way: If you meet someone who you know is transgender, just try not to make a huge deal out of it.
A trans person won’t be angry, hurt or offended if you ask for their pronouns, however, they will be if you ask them what’s between their legs.
Try not to assume someone's gender for the way they look; if you try to guess just by someone's appearance, you could get it wrong and get both of you into an awkward/uncomfortable situation. (Likewise, don’t assume someone’s sexual orientation based on their gender identity).
If you're meeting someone new and you don’t know what pronouns to use, listen to them as they introduce themselves. If they don't mention their preferred pronouns, ask them. They will understand and appreciate your interest on being nice and respectful for their gender identity.
We might sometimes be used to calling an old friend by their birth name and using certain pronouns with them, but if they mention not feeling comfortable anymore with said name and/or pronouns, we must ask them what they prefer and get used to it.
Remember some of your transgender friends or colleagues might not be openly transgender, so do not out them to strangers, not only because you'd be violating their privacy, but also because it could be dangerous for them. The only moment it's not wrong to misgender someone is when you're protecting them. To avoid any bad situations, if someone comes out to you as transgender, ask them if they’re openly trans.
I cannot stress this enough: Never misgender someone on purpose for any other reason even if you're joking of if you think you're being funny. It is NOT right and it's just plain rude and uncalled for, especially if that person believes they're in a safe place with you.
…This might go without saying, but if you accidentally slip and misgender someone, apologize.
The best way to show someone how much you love and respect them, is by supporting them. Transgender people face many more problems than cisgender people, all of them caused by society's prejudices and hate, to the point that finding a job, renting a place, or even simple things like going to the public bathroom can become a challenge; not to mention the actual danger faced each day.
There’s an awesome page called “Straight For Equality” in which you can find many cool materials and personal stories that might help you become an ally and a better informed person. I hope you can check it out (tip: it doesn’t matter if you’re not straight, it worked for me), click here to go to their trans ally section.
A fragment dedicated to pronouns:
When someone doesn’t identify with the usual binary pronouns, they have the option of using gender neutral pronouns such as “they/them”, “xe/xem”, “ze or zie/hir”, “ey/em” and others, depending on each person’s preferences. Some of these pronouns may be new for you, so I found a wonderful small guide I think you could find useful:
However, remember these aren’t all the pronouns there are. The English language has advantage over other languages that don’t offer gender neutral pronouns; however, it’s still necessary for many English-speakers to put these to practice.
“…As that area of our language progresses, we will become more used to adjusting pronouns based on personal identification rather than visual assumption, and there should be fewer slips.” –Samantha on The Transally Blog
Just like that, I think we should all be more inclusive with our words, and use a gender neutral language; gender neutral nicknames, gender neutral descriptions, and even gender neutral comebacks, why not? It's important we exercise this so people around us will, too!
Remember these posts are made so that people can learn about topics they might’ve not ever heard about, so if you read all the way down, and you still have doubts, this is a safe place to express them and I will answer them if I think I can.
I hope this article has been useful for you, or anyone you might know. Feel free to share it outside of Steemit if you think someone should read it, same goes to both of my previous LGBTQ+ Talk posts: "What's the difference between sex and gender?", and "The Transgender umbrella and Non-Binary gender identities".
Have a wonderful day, and always keep fighting!
PS: Did you see these new text dividers? I love them! Found the GIF on this post by @scrooger. I've been searching for some new ones on creative commons but haven't found anything. If you have any other text divider suggestions I'd be happy to check them out!