|Home » tvChix Articles » Etiquette When Speaking to a Transgender Person|
Etiquette When Speaking to a Transgender Person
The first thing to remember when dealing with a transgender person is to respect their gender identity. If you're unsure of how someone identifies or what pronouns they prefer, a simple and polite question should clear this up. If you must ask, phrase it along the lines of, "What pronouns do you prefer?" Usually this shouldn't be a problem and should be clear in context, with someone who is dressed as a man preferring masculine pronouns and someone who is dressed as a woman preferring feminine pronouns. If you accidentally use the wrong name or pronoun, simply apologize briefly and move on with the correct terms.
Many people are very curious about transgender people. This is normal and it's better to want to learn about something new than to simply reject it out of hand. However, the transgender people you will meet are not your own personal professors or museum exhibits. They don't exist for you to learn from. They are people with their own lives, interests and desire to privacy. Asking questions about the name someone was given at birth (especially if you phrase it as asking about their "real name"), their genitals or surgery status, their sex life, or anything else personal is incredibly inappropriate. It would be rude to ask personal questions of anyone without invitation and is doubly so when they're on a topic that the person might never want to answer at all.
If you have questions about transgender people in general, you would be better off researching this yourself than expecting someone else to inform you. Simply because someone is transgender doesn't mean they would be educated enough to answer your questions and they may rightfully resent the assumption that it's their responsibility to teach people. It would be something like meeting an immigrant from another country and then asking them probing political questions about their native land. They may or may not be able to answer you, and are likely to be annoyed at being put in such a position.
If you're friends with someone and feel that personal questions would normally be appropriate, you can obviously ask more intimate questions. Simply remember that you are asking questions about someone's life, not some academic topic.
Happy Birthday to MRBILL (Thursday)|