Five tips for being more gender sensitive
Neysara teaches us how to be more supportive allies on Breaking Glass
Neysara is the founder of Transgender India, an online portal which empowers thousands of transgender people across India with awareness and knowledge to make informed choices and find community. She also started the first ever trans-specific online discussion forum in India called Talk, which allows trans people around the country to question and discuss issues about gender, life, career and transition.
Neysara walked us through her own experience transitioning, the personal and professional ramifications of that decision that she’s endured over the years, and what she’s doing to advocate for transgender rights across India. Our conversation with Neysara further emphasized the importance of sharing helpful information when it comes to transgender people and how we can support them. Below are five tips to help you be a more gender-sensitive person.
- If you don’t know which pronouns to use, listen first. – Listen to which pronouns people use to describe any given person. If they know each other well, they are probably using the right pronouns. If you must ask about someone’s pronouns, do so by first stating your own, and then asking for theirs.
- Understand there is no “right” or “wrong” way to transition. Everybody has a unique transition process. Nobody needs to justify their choice to receive or not to seek out medical services or gender reassignment surgery. Nor do they need to look a certain way in order for their unique transitioning journey to be respected or validated.
- Be patient with a person who is exploring their gender identity. It may take some time for this person to figure out their gender identity, so be patient with them and use whatever pronouns or names they ask you to at the time, even if those change.
- Avoid backhanded compliments and “helpful” tips. Avoid comments such as “You look just like a real woman” or “you’re so brave”. While these might be intended as compliments, they can actually be hurtful or even insulting.
- Listen to transgender people. – One of the best ways to be a transgender ally is to educate yourself. Do this by listening with an open mind as a transgender person is speaking about his or herself. For more resources check out TransgenderIndia.com and Glaad.org/trasgender/allies