How should we talk about transgender issues?

This is a summary of an article on TED by Thu-Huong Ha about how we can all help by talking about transgender issues, and how to do it sympathetically. I’m publishing this summary because 20 November is Transgender Day of remembrance.

Thu-Huong Ha says:

As gender issues become more public, it’s clear that the media will play a crucial role in how trans people are treated — but sensitivity starts with the individual, and a good first step is to be thoughtful and precise about our language. Below, find tips and quotes gathered from trans men and women and their allies about positive, helpful ways to have that conversation. Though respectful language is only part of the battle for equality and acceptance, it’s a very good start.

Here’s the recommendations:

Don’t conflate sex and gender.

Sex is based on biology and assigned at birth, while gender is cultural and social, based on how a person self-identifies.

Take the time to find out a trans person’s preferred pronoun.

Asking “do you prefer he or she” feels awkward, but its respectful of the other’s wishes. Do it.

Never use: tranny, transvestite, he-she, she-he, it, sex swapped, sex change. Do use: trans man or woman, male-to-female (m-t-f), or female-to-male (f-t-m), transition.

Some words have become derogatory – be sensitive to that. Use terms that are respectful. Also note that transvestite and transsexual are completely different. However, attitude is more important than words so don’t get hung-up on this either.

Don’t focus on a person’s anatomy, past or present.

You wouldn’t ask me about my surgical history, my anatomical details. So don’t do it to a trans person. It’s rude.

Never out a person without their permission.

Just as with sexuality, gender belongs to the individual. Outing someone changes their lives, you have no right to do that to them.

Don’t assume you’ll recognize a trans person — and that’s a good thing.

You may know someone who is trans without knowing that they are trans. And it doesn’t matter.

Don’t make it a thing if it’s not.

Why do you care what someone’s gender is? If you do, then isn’t that saying something about you, not them? Don’t focus on one aspect of a person, see the whole person.

Original Article

This is a summary of an article on TED. Please do read the original.