The Power Of Acceptance And Love: 5 Steps To A Trans-Friendly World

by Lexy Stang

England is introducing "Mx," a gender-neutral title for official forms and documents.

"Transparent," a series about a middle-aged trans woman coming out to her family, won a Golden Globe.

The Bruce Jenner interview reached 17 million people and was met with overwhelming support.

Laverne Cox became the first openly transgender person to win a Primetime Emmy acting award, in addition to being the first openly transgender person on the cover of Time.

"Transgender" is a household word.

This is a big deal.

Transgender rights are widely recognized as the next great frontier in civil rights, and with good reason.

But, it's still met with confusion, fear, hate and a lack of acceptance.

Only a handful of states allow birth record amendments to reflect true gender identity. LGBT minors make up a hefty percent of homeless youth.

A majority of the country still allows children to be forced into conversion therapy. The rate of suicide in the trans community, especially among people of color, is haunting.

Before we can make real change in laws and society, we have to make changes within our own lives. Here are some ways to make your world a trans-friendly world:

Understand everyone is different.

Just like we’ve been told since we were little, we are all special and unique. This applies to trans people, too.

Some trans people might be casual about pronouns and names. Some trans people might dress in ways that align with the gender assigned to them at birth.

Just remember that one trans person does not represent every trans person.

You can't say, "This trans woman is attracted to men, so all trans women are attracted to men."

Everyone is different and everyone has different preferences. Gender identity is not sexual orientation.

Gender identity and sexual orientation are not mutually exclusive and they may be discovered at different times in a person's life.

There is no designated time to discover who you are and whom you love.

Make it a normal thing to ask someone for a preferred pronoun.

Just like you ask someone for a name, ask for the preferred pronoun, too. Don’t assume gender because of presentation.

The way people dress on the outside does not always indicate anything on the inside.

Accidentally misgendering someone by using the wrong pronouns can hurt. When in doubt, use “they.”

If you cringe at the use of singular “they,” then you are well behind the times. Singular “they” has been used since Chaucer, Jane Austen, and even the Bible. Shakespeare himself used “they” on several occasions.

Are you really going to ignore the man who gave us phrases like, “Thou art the son and heir of a mongrel bitch?"

Stop assigning gender to non-gendered things.

Pink was considered a “boy” color until the 20th century. Kids of all ages wore dresses when they were little.

Why have we assigned genders to colors? Why do we call some clothes “girl” clothes and “boy” clothes?

English doesn't grammatically assign genders to inanimate objects, but we still use she and he when we talk about things like cars and boats.

Even jobs are often assigned to one gender.

When someone says, "nurse," "flight attendant" or "stay-at-home parent," a lot of people automatically think, "woman."

When you say, "doctor" or "pilot," people think, "man." But, trans men can be nurses. Trans women can be doctors.

Anyone can be anything. Jobs, clothing and favorite colors are just preferences and choices. They don't define or assign gender.

Don't ask questions like, "What's your birth name?" or, "What bathroom do you use?"

Unless you are sleeping with a transgender person, genitals are not your concern.

Not only can those invasive questions trigger dysphoria and uncomfortable feelings, they also don’t matter.

It doesn’t matter what someone’s birth name is because it is not who they are now. Where someone pees is not very important in understanding whom they are as a person.

No one is required to disclose personal information, especially harmful or upsetting information.

Some trans people choose to undergo surgery, some do not.

Whatever they decide, it’s not for you. Some people wear makeup because it makes them feel good.

Some people seek SRS (sex reassignment surgery) because it makes them feel good.

Either way, it does not involve you.

Educate yourself, your kids, your parents, your friends, etc.

If you hear your friends use an offensive word, tell them why it's offensive.

If your child says he doesn't want to play with pink toys because it's girly, deconstruct that idea. It will stick.

The first and most important step is the clichéd but forever true golden rule: Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Learn the no words. Seek out establishments that support trans people. Use the right words.

It's important to know the transgender umbrella does not only mean a binary gender. Some people identify as gender nonconforming, genderfluid, nonbinary or genderqueer.

There are more identities than dreamt of in your philosophy.

And, remember, this isn't about you.

If you are not transgender, you don’t get to decide what is offensive or hurtful to transgender people.

You don't get to decide what is and isn't a trans issue.

You don't make the rules that affect other people's lives.

Just stand with them and pick them up when they fall.

Until the number of casualties in the trans community is zero, this is everyone's problem. Transgender rights are human rights.