According to Dictionary.com, the definition of transgender means "a person who doesn’t identify with the biological sex that they were assigned at birth." An example of this could be that a person could be born with male genitalia, but they identify as a woman and they want to be thought of as a woman instead of a man.
Before discussing what not to say to a transgender person, it is important to discuss the difference between “sex” and “gender.” Sex is what a person is born with in terms of their biological genitalia. Gender is contingent on time, place, culture and interactions with people. Gender can change, and that is the important distinction between the two.
There are several ways to go about interacting with a transgender person, including treating them like a normal human being, and there are several things that you should never say to a transgender person when interacting with them.
1: “That’s just a phase, right?”
This statement invalidates transgender people and makes them feel like their decision to transition to another gender is not real and is not what they should be doing. While a transgender person can decide to go back to their original assigned gender, it’s important to support them in their decision so that they are encouraged to be themselves.
2: Did you get surgery to change your private parts?
Asking someone about their private parts is NEVER acceptable. Period.
3: “Which bathroom are you going to use?”
Asking someone which bathroom they use is in the same realm of unacceptable as asking them about their private parts. It’s never considered to be an acceptable topic of conversation. End of story.
All in all, it’s important to remember that transgender people are just like everyone else. Treat them with the kind of respect that you would want to be treated with. Encourage them to be themselves unapologetically. That is the best way to interact with transgender people.