excerpted from the Queer Student Commission’s 11/18 newsletter
Don’t make assumptions about a transgender person’s sexual orientation. Gender identity is different than sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is about who we’re attracted to. Gender identity is about our own personal sense of being a man or a woman, or neither of those binary genders. Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight.
If you don’t know what pronouns to use, listen first. Understand the differences between “coming out” as lesbian, gay, or bisexual and “coming out” as transgender. “Coming out” to other people as lesbian, gay, or bisexual is typically seen as revealing a truth that allows other people to know your authentic self. The LGB community places great importance and value on the idea of being “out” in order to be happy and whole. Some people may choose to publicly discuss their gender history in an effort to raise awareness and make cultural change, but please don’t assume that it’s necessary for a transgender person to disclose that they are transgender in order to feel happy and whole.

Respect the terminology a transgender person uses to describe their identity. Don’t ask about a transgender person’s genitals, surgical status, or sex life.Avoid backhanded compliments and “helpful” tips. While you may intend to be supportive, comments like the following can be hurtful or even insulting: “I would have never known you were transgender. You look so pretty.” “You look just like a real woman.” “She’s so gorgeous, I would have never guessed she was transgender.” “He’s so hot. I’d date him even though he’s transgender.” “You’re so brave.”

Challenge anti-transgender remarks or jokes in public spaces, including LGB spaces. You may hear anti-transgender comments from anti-LGBTQ activists, but you may also hear them from LGB people. Someone may think that because they’re gay, it’s ok for them to use certain words or tell jokes about transgender people. It’s important to challenge anti-transgender remarks or jokes whenever they’re said and no matter who says them.

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