Trans Visibility Day Good Manners Guide
Allyship isn't *that* hard.
Written byStacey Leigh
This March 31st marks the 13th year of International Transgender Day of Visibility, a day to honor and celebrate the resiliency of trans and non-binary folks across the world. It’s the day before June kicks off Pride month and it’s set aside as a special day to recognize the struggles and victories of the trans community and to step up as an ally to combat discrimination and misinformation.
With only 1.6% of adults identifying as trans or non-binary, they’re an especially marginalized and vulnerable group.
The early decades of LGBTQIA civil rights focused largely on the rights of gay and lesbian populations, often leaving out the unique needs of the trans community until very recently. Now more than ever, with basic trans human rights coming under attack worldwide, it’s important to show up as allies in the fight for trans civil liberties.
Here are a few ways you can be an ally and join the conversation for Transgender Visibility Day.
Respect pronouns/gender ID/names.
If you know that someone is going by a different gender identity or name, then that’s how you should address them. Easy, peasy. But if you’ve heard it through the grapevine, it’s totally okay to just say something like, “I have heard that you’d prefer X name and X pronouns, do I have that right?”
They/them are acceptable pronouns.
Identifying with they/them pronouns is relatively recent, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less valid. It can take a little bit of time for the habit to form, but there’s a good chance you use “them” to refer to a singular person all the time without thinking of it. How many commercials ask you to “talk to your doctor and see if they say this product is right for you?” Or “call your representative and tell them that you support this bill?”
Don’t deadname, even famous people.
A dead name is the name that someone went by before changing it for gender reasons. Generally, if someone has decided to change their name, they have very good reasons for it and want to shed the baggage of their old name. So don’t use it! While someone famous will probably never hear you dead-naming them, calling them by their chosen name (like Elliot Page, Caitlyn Jenner, etc.) is a great way to reinforce this practice in everyday conversation.
Never ask about genitals. Like, ever.
Asking a trans person what’s under their undies is just as inappropriate as asking any other stranger details about their genitals. For this reason, using the terms “pre-op” or “post-op” on someone you don’t know is not cool. Some folks might describe themselves this way or offer up details, but it’s not for you to ask. Lots of trans folks don’t have any kind of genital surgery, either by choice or circumstance and that doesn’t make them any less trans.
Gender is different from orientation.
Trans men and trans women can be attracted to, date, and marry cisgender men and women, transgender men and women, and non-binary folks. Even though they’re part of the LGBTQIA umbrella, they might identify as straight.
Gender experience isn’t set in stone.
For gender-nonconforming folks, the way they experience gender can be a lifelong journey. Rather than view it as “phases” that someone goes through, try looking at it as a life thoroughly examined through gender.
Normalize trans folks just living life.
By just respecting and acknowledging trans people, you are helping to normalize the trans experience. You can also help be an ally by stating your pronouns whenever applicable— on your email signature, on professional chats, on your resume, on conference name tags, whenever you’re asked about yourself! Even if you’re cisgender and you feel like your pronouns are obvious, just the extra step can help someone not be the only one clarifying their gender. It’s a nice show of solidarity and points you out as an ally.
Advocate for gender neutral bathrooms, locker rooms, and non-discrimination policies. Even if it’s just leveraging your power as a customer, make your voice heard in support of gender-neutral spaces and trans-inclusive policies. The more people make it known that trans-safe space is important, the more common it becomes.
Stay informed and advocate as an ally to trans prisoners, trans youth, trans sex workers, homeless trans folks and other marginalized communities. Marginalized communities got the double-whammy— they’re more likely to suffer rights abuses and less likely to be taken seriously when they seek justice. Do your part and stay informed.
Check out the social media posts for #transdayofvisibility, #transdayofvisibility2023, and others for ways to help and listen!