Things not to assume about transgender people

Photo courtesy of | Guest Writer Toni Carlotta sheds light on the misconceptions surrounding trans identity.

“Transgender” is defined as someone whose gender identity differs from their assigned sex at birth. Education on transgender issues has slowly risen in recent years. Sadly, trans people, specifically trans women of color (WOC), are still more likely to face violence and discrimination in the workplace, housing, healthcare and in daily life. On its website, the Human Rights Foundation reported 25 deaths of transgender people in 2017 alone on. Hatred and tragic violence against trans people begins with ignorance and misconceptions on what it means for someone to be transgender. Here are just a few that I’d like to clear up.

1. “All trans people plan on transitioning.” Many cis (someone whose gender is aligned with their assigned sex) people think anyone who identifies as trans plans to go through transition. Some are able to take hormone blockers or have surgery to better express their gender identity to themselves and society. However, many trans people don’t feel these options are necessary for them to express themselves. Other trans folks are unable to access them due to healthcare issues, finances and personal safety. Don’t assume a trans person is going through transition, and PLEASE don’t ask someone personal questions on what genitals they have; if you wouldn’t ask a cis person what’s in their pants, then don’t ask us.

2. “There is such a thing as ‘not being trans enough.’” Gender is not a black-and-white experience. There is no right or wrong way to be trans; gender identity is fluid and a person’s identity and self-expression are allowed to constantly evolve. Some see trans people who don’t transition or those who identify on the non-binary spectrum (which can mean the person doesn’t identify with any gender, or they may identify with two/multiple genders) as “not trans enough.” Don’t think you know a person’s gender identity more than they do. If a person says they’re trans, then they’re trans. Does it matter how long they’ve used their pronouns or how they look? No. It’s impossible for every cis person to see themselves and gender the same way, so why expect every trans person to be the same, too?

3. “Personal pronouns aren’t real. Using ‘they’ as a singular noun isn’t proper English!” You’ve probably heard something similar to the first sentence. Non-binary people often go by gender-neutral pronouns like they/them or ze/zi because they don’t always identify as male or female but somewhere in the middle. It’s OK to not know every pronoun out there. Most of us weren’t raised with these terms, and that’s OK! However, if someone tells you their pronouns, don’t tell them their pronouns are “fake.” Don’t assume you know more about a person’s pronouns than they do, it’s just rude.

4. “All trans people are White, skinny and/or androgynous.” Trans representation has risen, but we have a long way to go. The majority of trans representation in media is whitewashed and doesn’t show fair trans representation. Transgender people are a rainbow of stories, experiences, hopes and dreams. Trans people are in every culture, trans WOC paved the way for all LGBTQ+ rights and all deserve respect for being themselves.

If you’d like to learn more on trans identity, see Kelsey O’Neil (pronouns: they/them) in the CDI in GSC or email them.

Toni Carlotta is a junior communication studies major and guest writer for the Newswire from Cincinnati.