What does transgender mean?

Transgender is a gender identity and is a term which covers a variety of identities and expressions which are different that the one assigned at birth. When a person is transgender they may identify with the gender opposite the one they were assigned at birth or they may not identify with any gender (gender queer) or they may identify with multiple genders (qender fluid).

What does cisgender mean?

Cisgender is a gender identity and is a term which covers individuals who identify with the gender that was assigned to them at birth.

Aren’t transgender people just gay?

Gender expression and identity is different than sexual orientation. Transgender people can be gay, straight, bisexual, asexual, pansexual, and more! Moreover, a person’s sexual orientation can change throughout their lifetime, and their attractions can change during their transition.

Are transgender people “crazy?”

Being transgender is not a mental disorder as being transgender does not automatically entail significant emotional distress and psychological disability. Many transgender people live successful and fulfilling lives in a variety of scientific and artistic disciplines. Because of the intense stress trans people experience in their individual processes of coming out and becoming a better version of themselves (stresses such as rejection from family and friends, the cost of health care, social alienation, etc.) many trans people suffer from higher rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide than the rest of the population. Most major medical and psychological organizations such as the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics denounce views or therapies which would attempt to “fix” transgender people or make them feel abnormal and embrace evidence-based practices which seek to improve the quality of life for transgender patients.

My child has just come out to me a transgender, and I am devastated. What should I do?

As a parent it is normal to have hopes and dreams for your child. Deep down, the hope or dream really equates to a general feeling of goodwill for your child. You want your child to have a happy, fulfilling, and safe life.As hard is it may be to change the way you view your child and to change the hopes and dreams you have for them, you are going to have to let go of what you want for your child and embrace them for who they are. In the long run your child will be happier and healthier and have a better chance at a fulfilling and safe life if they embrace who they are. It is devastating to a transgender person when their family rejects them. You should seek professional help from a licensed psychologist, or other mental health care professional, so that you can process the emotions and feelings you are going through. They are normal, but you shouldn’t allow them to control how you respond to and treat your child. See this page for more information.

What should I do if I think domeone I know is transgender?

You should not ask them if they are transgender. If you think that a person you know is transgender, then you should make it very obvious to that person that you are supportive to them by treating them with respect and dignity. If you do not support them, then you should, at the very least, treat them with respect and use the name and pronouns they prefer.

How can I support a person I know who is transgender?

The easiest way to support a transgender person you know is to treat them with the same dignity and respect you would treat a cisgender person you know. Use the name and pronouns they prefer (even if you are their family and have known them for their entire life). Stand up for them if you witness them being bullied or disrespected or victimized. Seek out more information about trans identity so you can better understand them. Finally, do not ask them rude or intrusive questions about their identity or transition.

Are there questions I shouldn’t ask a transgender person?

You should never ask a transgender person what their birth name was, if they’ve had “the surgery” or are on hormones, or about their sex life. You should not ask intrusive questions. If a transgender person wants to share their story with you, then they will share it with you. Generally, if you wouldn’t ask a cisgender person the question, you shouldn’t ask a transgender person the question.

What’s the correct terminology?

Terminology can be tricky when you aren’t familiar with a certain issue or culture. If you don’t know the appropriate term to use, then it is okay to ask. In general, however, the terms “transgendered, tranny, and shemale” are offensive terms and should be avoided completely. Many people are confused about why “transgendered” is offensive. This term is offensive because it implies that being transgender is something that happened rather than something that is a natural part of a transgender person’s life. Additionally, you shouldn’t call a transgender person “a transgender.” Instead you can say they “are transgender” or “trans”  or you can say “trans person” or “trans people” or “trans folk.” Trans sexual refers to a person who is undergoing or has completed a medical transition. This term can be touchy for many trans people, therefore it is safe to avoid using it and using trans instead.

How should I handle a situation where I don’t know someone’s gender pronouns?

You should always use the gender pronouns a person asks you to use with them. If you are unsure about what pronouns the individual prefers, it is always okay to ask, “what are your pronouns?” If you are unsure and afraid to ask, then use neutral pronouns such as they, them, and their. It is highly offensive to call a trans person an “it” or a “he/she” and to not use the pronouns the person uses for themselves (especially if they request you to use their pronouns).

I think this person in the restroom is transgender, what should I do?

Transgender people, like cisgender people, are in the restroom they feel comfortable using. They are there to satisfy the basic human need of going to the restroom. If you have a problem with using the same restroom as a transgender person, then you should not confront them or report them to the police. You should leave the restroom.