15 ways to treat a transgender person

Being Trans in this world is not for the faint of heart.

I asked one of my friends who transitioned for advice when I started the process and she said: "You need to develop a thick skin".

I was puzzled she didn't give me more advice, but I soon realised why she said what she said. Being transgender you would have to get used to being gawked at, judged and ridiculed by people.

Some days it really feels like you are forever cursed because people don’t treat you according to your gender identity.

Being trans is not a choice

People often make the mistake to think we decide to become transgender. Excuse me? When did you decide what gender you wanted to be? We are born this way. Most transgender people battle through their childhood with hateful feelings about their birth gender.

We usually know from a young age our gender identity doesn't match out physical gender. The only decision we make is to transition.

It is each transgender person’s choice whether you refer to them as a transgender person or a transsexual.

We are not monsters. We are human and it isn't that difficult to treat us with respect and decency.

People don’t need to treat us any different than they would any other person. We laugh, cry and get angry just like everyone else.

15 tips for dealing with transgender people

- It is important to use the person’s identified name and the correct pronouns.

- We won’t bite your head off if you make a mistake with names or pronouns. It happens and it is sometimes something to get used to.

- If you deliberately use the wrong names and pronouns, you are highly disrespectful to that person. All you are saying to me is that you don’t respect me enough to see me for who I am. You tell me that your feelings are more important than my own feelings.

- Please feel free to ask a transgender person questions. You will often find that they are in fact open and willing to share their experiences and give you more information about their journey.

- Beware however of questions that are too personal. Never ask them about their surgery or genitals. It is just plain rude! Due to medical reasons, not all transgender people can get gender reassignment surgery. It becomes a source of severe anxiety for them if people define them by their genitals.

- It is also well advised to avoid asking them questions about how they have sex. You don’t need any details about what is going in inside the bedroom.

- Never OUT a transgender person. It is a difficult journey and transgender people need all the positive support they can get. Being "outed" against their will opens them up to potential harassment and bullying and in severe instances; this can drive the transgender person to suicide.

- Do not assume a transgender person’s sexuality. Transgender people can be straight, bi or gay.

- Please don’t make simple tasks more complicated. Something like using the bathroom are difficult for many transgender people since gender neutral bathrooms are not generally available. Many transpeople like me try to use the disabled bathrooms, but sometimes we have no option but to use the bathroom that fits our gender identity. Please, ladies and gentlemen, we are there to use a toilet like anyone else. It is difficult enough to be scared to do a simple task like using a toilet.

- We don’t need tips on how to comb our hair or how to walk to be more masculine or feminine. The most difficult phase of transitioning is usually in the middle of the process when someone still displays characteristics of both genders. Allow the transgender person to ask you for advice on their own terms.

- Please don’t tell a transgender person they pass well in public. Some transgender people might take this as a compliment, but some might see it as an insult. It is better to avoid it.

- As far as transgender women are concern, never refer to them as a tranny or she-male. This is regarded as a transphobic slur.

- Don’t judge a transgender person on their religious beliefs. Everyone has the right to follow any religion they want to. I’m not here to tell you what religion is right or wrong. Who are you to tell me my religion or my transition path is wrong? Maybe it is time for religions that see people being transgender as a sin to educate themselves on the topic before making judgments.

- Please don’t think there is a cure for being transgender. Many of us are born with intersex conditions. Modern science is finding more and more clues as to why people are transgender.

- Don’t assume transgender people are mentally ill. Many of the mental disorders transgender people face are directly a result of the way people and society treats them. Yes, many do suffer from depression, but like any other mental condition, it can be treated with the proper medication.

The day I decided I want to live

Being transgender is difficult. Trust me, I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. I remember when I decided to transition. I was in a deep pit of depression.

I wanted to die. The day I decided to transition was the day I decided I wanted to live. I wanted to be my true self. I wanted to be happy.

This journey can be described as a marathon. You face a lot of mental and physical torment along the way. We don’t need to deal with extra and unnecessary hate from the outside world. All we need is positive support and acceptance. 

I want to end with the following quote: "It isn't about becoming another person. I am already who I am. I just want my body to reflect that. It’s not like I'm suddenly changing from the person you've always known – this is more about your willingness to see who I've always been" - Cooper Lee Bombardier.

Follow Women24 on Twitter and like us on Facebook.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For only R75 per month, you have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today.
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Now that it's the New Year, what are you looking forward to?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
The vaccine arriving in SA
32% - 131 votes
Going back to the office/ campus
3% - 14 votes
Going on a trip overseas
10% - 42 votes
Nothing, I don't expect 2021 to be any better than 2020
46% - 188 votes
Treating myself to a shopping spree
2% - 10 votes
I'm planning a big party to celebrate as soon as Covid is over
5% - 20 votes