GenderwearSA

Tips for Allies of Transgender People

29 November 2023

  • If you’re unsure of what pronouns to use, ask and listen first.

If you’re too shy to ask (don’t worry, we’ve all been there), pay attention to the pronouns that other people use when referring to them. You can also politely ask them, “which pronouns do you use?” or “what pronouns do you go by?”. You might feel a bit awkward with the situation, but they would definitely appreciate the question instead of assuming or misgendering.

  • Don’t ask a transgender person what their “real” name is.

For some transgender people, being reminded with their birth name is a huge trigger and can cause a lot of anxiety. An easy way to remember, is it’s simply a part of their life they want to leave behind. If you know the person’s birth name, don’t share it with other people without their permission – it’s their business, their life.

  • A person's gender identity cannot be determined by their appearance.

Transgender people don’t look any certain way or stand out in any way. You wouldn’t be able to spot a transgendered person in a room, the same as trying to spot a queer person. And if you know there is a transgender person in the room, don’t be weird about it! We’re all the same.

  • Don’t make assumptions about a transgender person’s sexual orientation.

I think many people still get confused with the difference of gender identity and sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is who you’re attracted to, while gender identity is about your personal sense of being a man, woman or non-binary. Transgender people can be anything – gay, lesbian, bisexual, straight or any other sexual orientation.

  • Remember that there is no right or wrong way of transitioning.

Coming out as trans or beginning your trans journey is different for everyone. Some transgender people ask for medical help, while others don’t feel the need and want their gender identity to be acknowledged without surgery or medical care. A trans person’s gender doesn’t depend on how they look or medical procedures.

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