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.
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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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If You've Ever Been Called Overly-Emotional Or Too Sensitive, This Is For You

Despite what they have told you, it's a gift.
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Emotional: a word used often nowadays to insult someone for their sensitivity towards a multitude of things.

If you cry happy tears, you're emotional. If you express (even if it's in a healthy way) that something is bothering you, you're sensitive. If your hormones are in a funk and you just happen to be sad one day, you're emotional AND sensitive.

Let me tell you something that goes against everything people have probably ever told you. Being emotional and being sensitive are very, very good things. It's a gift. Your ability to empathize, sympathize, and sensitize yourself to your own situation and to others' situations is a true gift that many people don't possess, therefore many people do not understand.

Never let someone's negativity toward this gift of yours get you down. We are all guilty of bashing something that is unfamiliar to us: something that is different. But take pride in knowing God granted this special gift to you because He believes you will use it to make a difference someday, somehow.

This gift of yours was meant to be utilized. It would not be a part of you if you were not meant to use it. Because of this gift, you will change someone's life someday. You might be the only person that takes a little extra time to listen to someone's struggle when the rest of the world turns their backs.

In a world where a six-figure income is a significant determinant in the career someone pursues, you might be one of the few who decides to donate your time for no income at all. You might be the first friend someone thinks to call when they get good news, simply because they know you will be happy for them. You might be an incredible mother who takes too much time to nurture and raise beautiful children who will one day change the world.

To feel everything with every single part of your being is a truly wonderful thing. You love harder. You smile bigger. You feel more. What a beautiful thing! Could you imagine being the opposite of these things? Insensitive and emotionless?? Both are unhealthy, both aren't nearly as satisfying, and neither will get you anywhere worth going in life.

Imagine how much richer your life is because you love other's so hard. It might mean more heartache, but the reward is always worth the risk. Imagine how much richer your life is because you are overly appreciative of the beauty a simple sunset brings. Imagine how much richer your life is because you can be moved to tears by the lessons of someone else's story.

Embrace every part of who you are and be just that 100%. There will be people who criticize you for the size of your heart. Feel sorry for them. There are people who are dishonest. There are people who are manipulative. There are people who are downright malicious. And the one thing people say to put you down is "you feel too much." Hmm...

Sounds like more of a compliment to me. Just sayin'.

Cover Image Credit: We Heart It

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Pride? Pride.

Who are we? Why are we proud?

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This past week, I was called a faggot by someone close to me and by note, of all ways. The shock rolled through my body like thunder across barren plains and I was stuck paralyzed in place, frozen, unlike the melting ice caps. My chest suddenly felt tight, my hearing became dim, and my mind went blank except for one all-encompassing and constant word. Finally, after having thawed, my rage bubbled forward like divine retribution and I stood poised and ready to curse the name of the offending person. My tongue lashed the air into a frenzy, and I was angry until I let myself break and weep twice. Later, I began to question not sexualities or words used to express (or disparage) them, but my own embodiment of them.

For members of the queer community, there are several unspoken and vital rules that come into play in many situations, mainly for you to not be assaulted or worse (and it's all too often worse). Make sure your movements are measured and fit within the realm of possible heterosexuality. Keep your music low and let no one hear who you listen to. Avoid every shred of anything stereotypically gay or feminine like the plague. Tell the truth without details when you can and tell half-truths with real details if you must. And above all, learn how to clear your search history. At twenty, I remember my days of teaching my puberty-stricken body the lessons I thought no one else was learning. Over time I learned the more subtle and more important lessons of what exactly gay culture is. Now a man with a head and social media accounts full of gay indicators, I find myself wondering both what it all means and more importantly, does it even matter?

To the question of whether it matters, the answer is naturally yes and no (and no, that's not my answer because I'm a Gemini). The month of June has the pleasure of being the time of year when the LGBT+ community embraces the hateful rhetoric and indulges in one of the deadly sins. Pride. Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera, the figures at the head of the gay liberation movement, fought for something larger than themselves and as with the rest of the LGBT+ community, Pride is more than a parade of muscular white men dancing in their underwear. It's a time of reflection, of mourning, of celebration, of course, and most importantly, of hope. Pride is a time to look back at how far we've come and realize that there is still a far way to go.

This year marks fifty years since the Stonewall Riots and the gay liberation movement launched onto the world stage, thus making the learning and embracing of gay culture that much more important. The waves of queer people that come after the AIDS crisis has been given the task of rebuilding and redefining. The AIDS crisis was more than just that. It was Death itself stalking through the community with the help of Regan doing nothing. It was going out with friends and your circle shrinking faster than you can try or even care to replenish. Where do you go after the apocalypse? The LGBT+ community was a world shut off from access by a touch of death and now on the other side, we must weave in as much life as we can.

But we can't freeze and dwell of this forever. It matters because that's where we came from, but it doesn't matter because that's not where we are anymore. We're in a time of rebirth and spring. The LGBT+ community can forge a new identity where the AIDS crisis is not the defining feature, rather a defining feature to be immortalized, mourned, and moved on from.

And to the question of what does it all mean? Well, it means that I'm gay and that I've learned the central lesson that all queer people should learn in middle school. It's called Pride for a reason. We have to shoulder the weight of it all and still hold our head high and we should. Pride is the LGBT+ community turning lemons into lemon squares and limoncello. The lemon squares are funeral cakes meant to mourn and be a familiar reminder of what passed, but the limoncello is the extravagant and intoxicating celebration of what is to come. This year I choose to combine the two and get drunk off funeral cakes. Something tells me that those who came before would've wanted me to celebrate.

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