By Vern Tee
Whether you identify as transgender, have a friend who is transgender (bear in mind you may be friends with someone who is transgender but not know it) here’s a list of things you need to know:
1. USE THEIR PREFERRED PRONOUNS
If your friend has come out as trans, 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.
If you are ever unsure, just ask.
2. RESPECT THEIR DECISION TO TRANSITION
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. 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 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 instead of going straight to the question about genitals.
4. DO NOT ASK ABOUT HOW THEY DO IT IN BED
Again… 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.
- 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.
- DO NOT OUT THEM AS TRANS TO OTHER PEOPLEI’ve got friends who have been revealing that I’m trans to others – 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 go ‘stealth’ because they live in fear of being a victim of violence. So, don’t out your friend unless you’ve asked for their consent first.
- THEY ARE THE SAME PERSON AS BEFORE THEY TRANSITIONEDWhile 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.
- MOST TRANS PEOPLE HAVE EXPERIENCED ANXIETY AND/OR DEPRESSIONIt’s not easy being trans. 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, assaulted or even raped. Scary isn’t it?
And people are 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 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. Religion is between you and God – not between you and the people who go to church/temple/mosque or other places of worship.
For example in Christianity, I’ve been told that God is against homosexuality because it’s written in the Bible. The Bible also says you can’t eat shellfish, 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 choosing what you practice, why don’t you choose the rules that spread love and kindness instead?
10.THEY ARE NOT OUT TO “CONVERT” PEOPLE
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’s OUR journey. It’s OUR life. We would love to have supportive family and friends in it. We would be happy to educate you and increase awareness for transgender people but we are NOT out to get people to “join the club”.