I love this poster courtesy of the Houston based Transgender Foundation of America entitled ‘How To Be An Ally To The Trans Community’
*Get to know me
You’ll find that I and other trans people lead very interesting lives at times. I’m always on the lookout for quality people to hang around with and if you do, you’ll discover I’m serious like many of my trans sisters are about being complements to womanhood and not detriments to it. Same is true of transmen wishing to be seen as finer specimens of masculinity. But what we do want you to take away from any interaction with us is that we’re not much different from any other human being on the planet and we’re part of the diverse mosaic of human life.
There’s plenty of material, blogs and books that discuss trans issues. But the best way to educate yourself is simply ask a transperson.
*Use preferred pronouns
I and my fellow transpeople didn’t spend all that time, money and sweat equity in becoming the phenomenal persons we are to be disrespected by being called the wrong pronoun. If you love, respect and care about us, then use our preferred pronouns, ask us what they are or how we wish to be addressed. If a transperson is presenting as female, address them as such. If a transperson is presenting as male, address them as male.
*Learn my ‘real’ name
We spend a lot of time and thought into choosing a name that accurately reflects who we are and treasure getting documents changed to reflect that name we chose. Show respect for a transperson by consistently using that name.
*Out me as trans without my permission
Because by doing so, you could set that transperson you outed up for harassment. If you outed that transperson in an area with no trans human rights protections in front of a vindictive transphobe, you could also cause unintended negative ripple effects in their lives up to and including job loss and setting them up for a hate crime
*Ask me what my old name was before transition
Some of us don’t care, some of us will straight up tell you it’s none of your business while others are attempting to make clean breaks with that pre-transition past. Asking what the old name was can be for that trans person a painful subject. Besides, we want you to focus on getting you to say our new names on a consistent basis.
*Make assumptions about my sexual orientation
You know what they say about when you assume. Sexual orientation and gender identity are two separate issues. Not all trans people are heterosexual and some of us identify with the G, L and B parts of the community in addition to being T. The converse is also true.
*Ask me about my genitalia
I don’t ask you about the genitalia configurations in your panties or briefs, so don’t ask me about mine. Focus more on what’s between my ears and not what’s between my legs.