It can be difficult to know how to approach a new identity when you are a friend, co-worker, or family member.
There may be some trepidation as to how to address trans people correctly, coupled with the fear of some slight or insult.
I can tell you that we are also as nervous.
This hesitation, despite its well-meaning, can isolate trans people from social groups and even potential employers. This silent ostracization can contribute to loneliness and
If you ever feel stressed or uncomfortable around someone because you are afraid of making a social faux pas, you are not alone.
When someone transitions socially, they are referred to as living in a new identity. This may involve a change of name and pronoun.
Social transitioning and medical transition are not required for the other.
There are a plethora of reasons why someone may not transition medically. of which are a basis to deny a person their new identity.
When I am in a group that is accepting and affirming of my identity, the stress that I was previously experiencing just disappears.
In places like school or work, you may be expected to share your pronouns.
“This feels formal and doesn’t happen in a casual environment. How do you introduce yourself to people?”
I like the third-person quip.
A joke about yourself can usually set the record straight. People pick up on this without any issues.
There has been some communication thanking me for establishing pronouns.
It is perfectly fine to ask someone what pronouns they use. I would prefer someone to ask than guess.
Some people are very knowledgeable. New words? Done. New name? Sorted. It is like flicking a switch. A small conversation will never give you another glimpse of your pre-transition self.
It may take a little longer for others.
“It isn’t a decision made on a whim, but the idea of transitioning may be brand-new and come as a complete surprise to someone else.”
It can be harder to get along with a friend or acquaintances further back.
This can be especially true if you’re transitioning at a later age.
“A person you have known for a few months or years doesn’t have the same opportunity as a person you have known for your entire life to build up a strong sense of your identity.”
When I first lived full-time in my new identity, for instance, I was constantly told by friends and co-workers that they might slip up and accidentally deadname or misgender me.
It is fine if people make name or pronoun mistakes, especially during the early stages of transitioning.
It is all about intention. I can empathise with the fact that change takes time.
It takes everyone a few weeks to stop writing the wrong year when we write down the date in January.
There is a right and wrong way to make a mistake.
I hear a lot of phrases like “correct me if I\’m wrong.” It can be awkward to call people out and correct them.
“It can cause tension and get tiring fast. I don’t want to be a police officer.”
Correct yourself, acknowledge your mistake, and move on is a better approach.
People want to hear about what it is like to be trans, and you can tell them.
It is important to set boundaries around what you are and not talk about it.
I always lay out what I am not and what I am happy to talk about when someone asks me to talk about transitioning.
It’s never acceptable to ask questions about transitioning to someone who does not openly disclose their past to you. It’s humiliating and downright rude.
Meeting new people
There is a difference between those who knew you before and those who only know you after.
If someone accidentally misgenders me in that mixed company, I will be less likely to speak up.
“Don’t let mixed company out of someone. This is when a person’s history is revealed without their permission.”
Doing so can lead to a person being asked questions that are not appropriate.
A group of people that will stick up for you no matter what can be incredibly helpful. Group behaviors are picked up quickly by social animals.
“People will get it right when a person’s identity becomes the norm. When those around you try to address you correctly, make it known that you appreciate it.”
“It isn’t always easy to transition. The people in your life may want to help in any way they can, and be involved in your transition in a positive and supportive way. Allow them to do it if you are comfortable with it.”
I had to do a lot of research to understand my relationship with gender in the different communities.
That is just me. Many people are unaware and will not get everything right when trying to be supportive. There is a key to this.
“I remember having a heart-to-heart with a complete stranger in the lady’s bathroom. I was sharing how nervous I was about being out and about.”
She was very supportive despite having some preconceptions about trans people that were technically incorrect.
I decided against it. It was better to befriend someone than to point out something.
No matter how much you try to remind them, they may just get it wrong.
It can be difficult to meet up with family because of this. It may be a group of friends, a loved one, or a co-worker.
Having a group of people that affirm your identity in front of others helps greatly.
When my mother was trying to get my identity correct, I found that having one of her or my friends present changed the dynamic.
“There were less instances of misgendering and deadnaming when there was a third person there. I wasn’t always doing the correct thing.”
Taking someone out to lunch, dinner, or even just a cup of coffee can prompt people to take extra care when talking about your identity. The gesture counts more than the monetary value.
People seem to take more effort to address you correctly when they are in debt. It can help stop the infantilization of your identity by people that are older to you.
How you assert your identity is up to you. You should not have to compromise on who you are.
Your identity is not up for debate, and neither should your dignity be. Sometimes a gentle nudging in the right direction is all that is needed for others to treat you well.
“This isn’t an extensive guide, it’s a guide from one person’s experience. I can say that standing up for myself has been a core part of my transition.”
Being trans can be difficult, so it is good to make life easier for each other.
A writer and scientist, she is based in Bristol, UK. She works with subjects that involve gender and identity. She is a stand-up comedian and is also a gaming host. You can follow her on the micro-blogging site.