It’s been 10 months into my transition and plenty has happened in that time. I’m (not surprisingly) the first transgender friend for many of my friends. All of them have been supportive and I’ve been asked the do’s and don’ts when it comes to what they can do for me. So I’ve decided to compile a list to help not only my friends, but anyone who reads this who knows someone who is transgender. If you don’t know anyone, hit me up, I’m a nice guy 😉
All jokes aside, I hope this post will help educate and enlighten more people. A lot of the things in this list is basic courtesy and manners but I understand how cis people and even some members of the LGBT community are curious and sometimes forget that it is a sensitive issue that can affect our self confidence and mental status.
DISCLAIMER: My opinions do not reflect the opinions of all transgender people. This is written from my own point of view and experience. I do not claim to represent the whole transgender community.
1.Use their preferred pronouns
If your friend has come out as trans or genderfluid, ask them what are their preferred pronouns. There are plenty of gender diverse individuals who may not identify with just one gender so they may prefer a gender neutral pronoun like they/their/them.
I identify as male, so my preferred pronouns are he/his/him. If you are ever unsure, just ask. It’s way better than being misgendered and it will show that you care.
2. Respect their decision to transition
This is their life – I can assure you that this is not a spur-of-the-moment decision where they woke up and decided they wanted to be a different gender. It took me most of my life to realise that I was transgender and not a lesbian. While I’ve only been on this journey for 10 months, I’ve spent years struggling with self esteem and questioning why was I abnormal. Trust me – transitioning is not a trend/fad.
It is our road to freedom to be who we are and live a life where we are happy.
3. Do not ask about their genitals
You wouldn’t ask someone you just met or a random stranger on the street about what’s in their pants, would you? So why would you ask me if I have a penis after you know that I’m trans?
While some trans people are open about their bodies, most are not. If you really had to ask, be sure to do it in a private conversation and ask if it’s okay instead of going straight to the question about genitals.
4. Do not ask about how they do it in bed
In relation to point no. 3, you wouldn’t ask how someone you barely know how they have sex, so why would you ask us that? All you need to know is yes, we can perform in bed.
If you’re still wondering about how it works and if I’m any good, well, you’ll just have try it yourself 😉
5. Avoid saying “But you were so handsome/pretty as a boy/girl”
It doesn’t matter if it’s a compliment – what you’re doing is intentionally misgendering someone.
6. Do not out them as trans to other people
This is one that depends on the person. While I will not hide the fact that I’m trans, I would rather not have that be the only description of me. Instead of saying “This is Vern, he’s transgender” I would much prefer “This is Vern, he’s awesome”.
I’ve got friends who have been revealing that I’m trans to people – which I do not mind if it was brought up during conversations about the LGBT community. Correcting people when they refer to me as he by saying “Oh, she’s not a he, but she is transitioning to become male” is COMPLETELY NOT OKAY.
There are trans people who choose to remain in ‘stealth’ mode because being outed or viewed as trans will cause so much anxiety where panic attacks occur. They also live in fear of being a victim of violence.
So, don’t out your friend unless you’ve asked for their consent first.
7. They are the same person as before they transitioned
While our appearance and pronouns may change, we’re the same person on the inside. Our appearance is only changing to match who we have been all along.
8. Most trans people have experienced anxiety and/or depression
It’s not easy being trans. As mentioned above, there are people who live in fear of not only violence but also sexual assault. Imagine being constantly worried that every time you enter a public toilet you may get insulted, yelled at, stared, judged, assaulted or even rape. Scary isn’t it? And what if each time you looked in the mirror you saw someone that wasn’t you? People constantly telling you what you should or shouldn’t do just because of what’s in your pants. It would feel like you’re drowning and no one can save you.
Being transgender is NOT a mental illness. Society’s view of seeing transgender people as abnormal is the source of the mental illness.
9. They can be religious too
Just because we’re trans doesn’t mean we don’t believe in God. There are religious trans people out there, religion is between you and God – not between you and the people who go to church/temple/mosque or any other places of worship.
Using Christianity as an example, I’ve been told that God is against homosexuality because it is written in the Bible. The Bible also says you can’t eat shellfish, wear clothing made of two different materials or work on Sundays and let’s not forget sex before marriage.
If you are going to throw religious rules at me, please be sure that you follow EVERYTHING the Bible says. I’m sorry but religion is not about being able to pick and choose what works for you.
If you insist on picking and choosing what you choose to practice, why don’t you choose the rules that spread love and kindness instead? Or is that too much of an inconvenience for you?
10. They are not out to “convert” people
Like I said, being trans is not a trend. And no, we do not want to “turn” you into a man/woman. Our lives are not easy – you do not know how badly we wish we were born in the “right” body. So why would we want to put you through that?
And it is OUR journey. It’s OUR life. We would love to have supportive and accepting family and friends in it. We would be happy to educate you and help increase awareness for transgender people but we are NOT out to get people to “join the club”.
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