7 Ways to Make Your Language More Transgender and Nonbinary Inclusive

7 Ways to Make Your Language More Transgender and Nonbinary Inclusive

Making the world safer through language.

With more people becoming aware of transgender and non-binary people, there have been a lot of questions circulating online and elsewhere about how to be more inclusive. Language is very important in making a space safer for trans and non-binary individuals. With language, there is an established and built-in measure of whether a place could be safe or unsafe. If the wrong language is used, the place is unsafe and shows a lack of education on trans and non-binary issues. With the right language and education, there can be more safe spaces for trans and non-binary people to exist without feeling the need to hide their identities or feel threatened for merely existing.

1. Use singular they for people whose pronouns you don't know, people who use those pronouns, and stop using him/her.


One of the most common, and often cluttered, phrases I hear when people try to talk about a person whose gender is unknown is he/she, him/her, (s)he. This is not only clunky and annoying to say, but ignores the fact that not everyone uses those pronouns or identifies as a man or a woman. When you say he/she you're really forgetting part of the population and making a lot of assumptions about people you don't know. This also goes for assuming a stranger's gender -- how someone presents isn't an indication of the gender they are or the pronouns they use. By assuming, you're misgendering someone before you even know them, when it is totally easy to use them, where you are assuming nothing. Singular they has been in use for hundreds of years. Using it will declutter language and create an environment in the world that allows for transgender and non-binary people to not be misgendered.

Source: genderqueerid.com

2. Stop using the words "opposite sex" or "both sexes" or "opposite gender" or "both genders".


Not only is this language erasing of transgender people outside the binary, but it is also erasing intersex people. The idea of the opposite of gender or sex, first of all, makes no sense. There is no opposite when it comes to biology, and since there are more than two sexes and more than two genders, there can be no opposite and no both (both implies two). Replace this language with all sexes or all genders and just get rid of the idea of opposite gender or sex from your mind and vocabulary entirely.

Source: riffsy.com

3. Ask people's pronouns when you meet them.

In order to help create a safer environment for trans and non-binary people, asking for pronouns and educating others on why you're asking is an important step. This allows the person to give you the pronouns they want you to use and stops you from assuming their gender, misgendering them and making them uncomfortable and hurt. This is something that is good to normalize is every conversation, not just in LGBTQIA+ spaces or in spaces that you suspect trans and non-binary people might be. Trans and non-binary people are everywhere and the more common asking about pronouns becomes, the less people will be misgendered.

Source: storyenvy.com

4. Use the word cisgender.


The word cisgender means that you identify with the gender you are assigned at birth. Basically, not transgender or non-binary. Using the word cisgender helps stop the idea that being trans or non-binary is 'abnormal' and that cisgender is the norm. It is a term that has existed for a long time. Using the term cisgender also, as the picture above says, helps to maintain that all gender experiences are valid, and all right rather than abnormal.

Source: houseofalexander.com

5. Stop saying "born a boy/girl" about a transgender or non-binary person.

I can't stress how annoying and upsetting this phrasing is and I hear it all the time by people who claim to be allies and people who are completely ignorant. No one is 'born' anything. Your gender and sex assignment are things that are given to you when you are born. This also is essentially outing trans and non-binary people to people who they don't know, misgenders them, and continues to hold up cis-sexist and transphobic ideas that one is born a gender and that their gender is innate and unchanging. It provides people with unnecessary and personal information about someone's genitals (since that is really what someone is saying when saying born a boy/girl). If someone is saying this, they are telling you the make up of someone's genitals, which is completely unnecessary and invasive. You don't need to mention what someone was assigned at birth.

Source: flavorwire.com

6. Stop using the term 'preferred pronouns'.

While the term is better than not asking at all, it still really isn't a good term. The word preferred implies that these pronouns are wanted, but optional when that is not the case. My pronouns and other transgender people and non-binary people's pronouns are not optional; they are absolutely required. If you want to ask for someone's pronouns just ask 'what pronouns do you use?'. The word preferred isn't needed because it isn't preferred, it's required.

Source: nytimes.com

7. Stop using a transgender or non-binary person's dead name.

The term dead name means someone's name before they changed it (if they changed it). You have no right to use or know that name. It isn't a name the person uses anymore and to use it is disrespectful and violent. Saying things like 'Before Doug was Doug he went by ____" is not okay. Not only does it out someone as transgender or non-binary, it gives someone very personal and unnecessary information. Having a dead name used is hurtful and makes me instantly not trust someone. Do not ask for someone's dead name: there is no need for you to know it; it is not their name. Before you say something like the above example, think about why you're saying it. Is that really relevant to the conversation? Why do you feel the need to share this incredibly personal information that you have no right to share? Plain and simple: don't use someone's dead name. It's disrespectful and cruel.

Source:redbubble.com

While this list is only a basic introduction to improving language and making spaces safer, there are plenty more ways and articles that can provide more information and education. Learning and unlearning is a process that is incredibly important to making spaces safer for trans and non-binary people.

Cover Image Credit: wikipedia.com

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I'm Bi And Dating Straight For The First Time Ever

And sometimes it feels weird. In a good way, though.

There’s a time in almost every bisexual’s life when the implications of actually being bi slam against them.

It’s usually the moment when you have to make two profiles on a dating app because it only lets you pick one gender. Or, typically if you’re a woman, all the worst threesome-seeking couples within the tristate area glom onto you like a starved barnacle on a 15th-century Spanish galleon.

For me, it was a Lyft ride. I was on my way home from a Tinder date.

The driver was friendly enough. She was middle-aged and built of soft, sweeping curves. Her car smelled like peppermint and a hand-sewn and very pink Christmas sweater clung to her shoulders. If she wasn’t a grandmother yet, she was already well-prepared for it.

Naturally, we chatted. She asked me what I had been up to. “Just got back from a date.”

“Oh, what was she like?”

I fired back the basics: she was a biochemistry major at Oregon State University, we had a lot in common, had a great time.

There were things I didn’t share: we’d hit it off so well that we’d missed out on plans to see the new Blade Runner and I’d ended up staying the night. That my date had soft, brown eyes with an understating gravity, strong enough that you barely realized she was wearing glasses. But the basic point was relayed.

It hit me as we pulled up to my place. Not once, in describing the idea that I had had a date, did I have to disguise the pronoun of my date to hide her gender.

Later, when I had a second date with Eve, and when we eventually decided to make things official and date for good, the culture shock echoed further: I was in my first-ever straight relationship.

Eve wasn’t the first woman I’d ever dated. However, she was the first woman I’d dated since transitioning to male.

My first relationship started in the 8th grade. I was out as bisexual to a handful of friends and relatives. She was an out-and-proud lesbian. We would stay together for three years, eventually ending up long distance after my family packed up and moved across the country.

Like the best of lesbians, she’d introduced me to the finer points of vegetarian cuisine and we’d write shitty fiction together, my fiction considerably shittier than hers. We’d even stayed friends, for a time, after an amicable breakup.

The entire relationship was spent in various closets. We held hands in the dark. I didn’t even tell my parents until we’d been together for at least two years. We’d ignore the sneers we’d get in public. I handily hid my gender issues.

Not long after I turned eighteen, I stopped hiding the gender issues and began working towards manhood. I’d like to think I did okay for a former girl scout. Along with that? I started dating (and hooking up with) other men.

Like my ex-girlfriend, my ex-boyfriend and I got used to keeping a couple inches away from each other while walking in public, especially in the shadier parts of town. I got used to calling him my “partner” just so I wouldn’t have to out myself as gay/bi to classmates or colleagues.

When I came to realize I would be a guy dating a girl, some small part of me finds I’m still amazed at the novelty of it. Another part of me feels a little guilty. And I feel that weird guilt, especially as I “pass” more and more as a male. I blend in, when I was used to sticking out. Sometimes it’s comforting. Other times I feel like a traitor selling out the gay agenda.

But that’s the thing about being bi. We date who we date. We love who we love. And hoping one of these days, it’ll only be love that matters.

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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10 Words That Prove You Can Never Take New York Out Of A New Yorker

You may take the girl out of New York for 8 months every year, but you can never take New York out of this girl.

Though I clearly attend the University of Virginia and consider myself at home in Charlottesville, I still feel most loyal to my New York roots wherever I go. Spending a month at home over winter break further reminded me of the many personality quirks and qualities that New Yorkers generally seem to possess.

Whether you're in Manhattan or on Long Island, there seem to be several words and phrases that apply to the average New Yorker you'll pass on the street. Some of these I'm proud to demonstrate, others I try to stifle more than flaunt, but based on my experience, it's hard to honestly say you grew up a New Yorker without admitting to at least some of these personality traits.

1. Tough

New Yorkers have been through a lot over the years, and they also have to navigate the almost-indecipherable New York subway system, so they know how to pull themselves through just about any situation. New Yorkers are often reluctant to ask for help themselves because they think they can withstand anything, which isn't always true, but I do admire how New Yorkers can view just about any roadblock as or obstacle as "a part of life" and move through it without complaining.

2. Cynical

With their toughness, and also their many sports franchises that have struggled in recent years, New Yorkers tend to be pretty cynical about the ways of the world. It may start with their history of corrupt state and city politics, or perhaps it's more cemented in the fact that the Jets haven't been to the Super Bowl since 1969.

Either way, we, unfortunately, tend to view many situations as either equally positive and negative or skewing to the more negative outcome. At the very least, by expecting the worst, we're pleasantly surprised when things work out.

3. Confident

One thing I admire about the New Yorkers I know is that they're generally pretty confident in themselves and their stances on life. Just the thought that we're from the Big Apple helps us walk a little taller every day.

New York working professionals confidently strut around Manhattan like they're on a runway critiqued by Heidi Klum, but this confidence also extends to our belief that we have a right to be heard and that our opinions matter.

4. Food elitists

This isn't really a "word" per say, but New Yorkers tend to firmly believe that their state is the capital of several foods, namely pizza and bagels and, to a lesser extent, doughnuts. This causes us to scoff at the idea that Domino's is considered "pizza" rather than merely "nourishment" everywhere else in the country.

Sorry Bodo's, but you're still half the size of and less crispy than a REAL New York bagel. I stand by this.

5. Loud

Based on my experiences on trains, subways, and streets surrounded by busy New Yorkers talking on the phone or in-person, they generally don't speak at a particularly subtle volume. Depending on the situation, New Yorkers know how to assert themselves into a conversation with volume alone.

They're also extremely enthusiastic cheerers at sporting events and concerts, which makes for deafening cheers every time Billy Joel steps on stage at Madison Square Garden for the (approximately) 125th consecutive month.

6. Opinionated

In my experience, New Yorkers generally aren't wishy-washy about many things. Whether it's about the best offseason moves for the Yankees this year or recent mayoral decisions, New Yorkers are great at coming up with a strong opinion on just about any subject and sticking to it, against any and all opposition.

7. Impatient

If you've ever witnessed New Yorkers bolting across the street as soon as the light turns yellow, or just crossing the street when it's still straight-up green and assuming all cars will stop for them, you've seen this impatience in action.

If you've witnessed businessmen swerving around you in Times Square when you're just trying to get a picture with a sketchy Mickey Mouse, you've also experienced classic New York-style impatience at its finest.

8. Defensive

This also ties into New Yorkers having a strong opinion on just about everything, and once they form that opinion, they tend to defend it within an inch of their lives.

New Yorkers grow up with the knowledge that their city is considered the "best" in many industries, and if anyone tries to challenge this, watch out because they'll be prepared to tell you exactly why New York is so amazing at the drop of a hat. But don't worry too much about this, unless they unexpectedly break out a PowerPoint presentation.

9. Strong-willed

Though unfortunately, we can't all be Beyonce, New Yorkers are some of the most determined, resolute people you'll ever meet. We've grown up knowing that Manhattan is full of professional, education, and entertainment opportunities that millions of people are vying for every day, which prepares us to fight hard for what we want.

10. Fiercely loyal

Above all else, despite the bad, unfriendly rap that we sometimes get, New Yorkers are darn proud to be from New York We're loyal to our state and what it represents because we love hailing from a state that can withstand anything and anyone. Even though we may be thinking of moving to Florida when we retire, we love it here for now.

New Yorkers also recognize that while we may consider moving to other cities after graduation to "experience the rest of the country," we find it hard to believe that we could truly call any other state besides New York home.

If nothing else, New York has Broadway. It's indisputably the theater capital of the world, which for me means that you may take the girl out of New York, but you can never take New York out of this girl.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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