Tips for Respecting Transgender People

The term "transgender" or "trans" is an umbrella term that includes lots of gender expansive identities


The term “transgender” or “trans” is an umbrella term that includes lots of gender expansive identities: transsexual people, cross-dressers, genderqueer individuals, gender people, trans men, trans women, two-spirit people and many more.

Please don’t ask about my genitalia, what surgeries I’ve had, or how I have sex. These are extremely personal questions.

A trans woman is male-to -female. A trans man is female-to-male. It is never the other way around.

Don’t assume my gender identity defines my orientation. Who I am attracted to is totally separate from my gender. A simple way to think of it is: one is who I sleep with and one is who I sleep as.

Don’t expect me to confirm to the stereotypes of my gender. I wear clothes I like and I have a variety of interests, just like everyone else.

The words “transsexual”, “transgender”, and “trans” are adjectives, not nouns. Please say “trans people” or “trans individuals”, not “transgenders” or “the transgender”.

I am not here to shock anyone or get attention. Being transgender is not a choice. The only choice I have made is whether or not to live authentically as my true self.


Please use language that corresponds to my gender identity, even if my body does not seem to match, and even when talking about my past. Do not use my old name or pronoun when referring to me in the past.

If you are still adjusting to my transition, it is normal to make mistakes with pronouns. Don’t draw attention to it. Just correct yourself and carry on.

If you ask everyone what pronouns they use (for example on forms, at the beginning of classes and workshops, etc.) then I am not singles out. It is a very inclusive best practice tip.

Non-Binary individuals may use gender neutral pronouns like: they, ze, ne, xe, or others.


Don’t immediately assume that sex reassignment/realignment surgery (SRS) and/or hormones are a priority for me. Every trans person is unique and chooses different steps during their transition, based on many factors. Not everyone wants SRS. Not everyone can afford it.

The changes I make to my body are not cosmetic, but rather reconstructive. Having a body I am comfortable with is vital to my health.

If I am a trans man getting top surgery, then I am not “getting my breasts removed”. I am having chest reconstruction.


Please don’t use my old name or ask what it was. Instead of saying “back when you were Fred”, say “before you transitioned”.

Please don’t ask me to explain my life story or my gender situation to people I’ve just met.

Please don’t ask to see an old, pre-transition picture of me.

If I have trusted you enough to share with you that I am trans, please keep it private. I will tell others if I choose to do so.

This article was donated by the Gay Alliance of Genesee Valley. Now a global leader in education and support for the LGBTQ+ community. They can be found at

The Gay Alliance of the Genesee Valley is a Champion for LGBTQ Life and Culture.

We envision a future where all members of the greater Rochester LGBTQ communities, at all stages of their lives, are free to be fully participating citizens, celebrating their lives in which they are safe, stable and fully respected.




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