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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12 Things You Pronounce Weird If You're From NJ

Our accents are just as big as our egos... and our hair.
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All of my life, I never thought I had a Jersey accent until I went away to school in Pennsylvania. My Pennsylvanian friends have a field day when they hear the “weird” ways I pronounce certain words. I am constantly the butt of all the jokes and have been asked way too many times to pronounce certain words for others so they can hear how “weird” I speak, but if you’re from Jersey then you know what I mean when I say these things.

NOTE: The words in parenthesis are the way we say it. Which is also the correct and best way to say them.

1. Water (wader)

Okay, so maybe I say water a little differently than others, but this is the way my family has said it for generations. This one is sort of a dead give away. When I’m on vacation and ask for “water” people will always know where I’m from.

2. Drawer (Draw)

I’ve gotten into many screaming matches with people about this. It is a "draw"! This causes many fights between me and my roommate, but I know for sure I’m not the only New Jersian who pronounces it like this.

3. Coffee (Cawfee)

I can’t even explain this without getting angry. It is most certainly not pronounced “Cahfee.” I will fight to my death that coffee should just be spelled the way it’s pronounced which adds a nice “aw” sound instead of that harsh, awkward “ah” sound.

4. Pork Roll (Correct term: Taylor Ham)

Considering most people on campus here call Taylor Ham “pork roll” I am always outnumbered, but don’t think I won’t go to war on this. It is absolutely called Taylor Ham! No, it’s not just the brand. What is a “pork roll”? I assume if you call it pork roll you’re from South Jersey or Philly and I can also guess you don’t even know what real Taylor Ham tastes like. I’m sorry I’m getting way too heated typing this…

5. Dog (Dawg)

OK, I just don’t even know any other way to say dog without adding the typical “aw” sound to it. Is there any other way? I’m pretty sure us New Jersians are not wrong about this one.

6. Talk (Tawk)

This one speaks for itself (pun intended).

7. City (Ciddy)

First of all, when I reference the “city” I am always 100% talking about New York City. Never ever am I talking about Philly. Never. Maybe us Jersians confuse the letters “T” and “D” but you can definitely distinguish my New Jersey background anytime I say “city”.

8. You (Yew)

This term most usually follows a common curse word us New Jersians say frequently. Expect this phrase when you’re driving on the parkway in the summer trying to maneuver your way through the boatloads of shore traffic.

9. Sandwich (Sub)

It pains me when I hear someone go up to a counter and ask for a hoagie. It sends shivers down my spine and makes me question my existence. It’s a sub-short for submarine sandwich-where does the term hoagie even come from?

10. All (Awl)

My roommate truly enjoys making fun of me for this one. Commonly used in the phrase “awl of a sudden”. This is great for story-telling and helps create a dramatic mood.

11. Chocolate (Chawcolate)

The only thing I can say is it sounds a lot better than saying “chakolate.”

12. Jersey (Jerzee)

Please, please, please, and I seriously mean please, do not ever, under any sort of circumstance come up to me and say “Joisey.” I think I would rather have someone call Taylor Ham a “Pork Roll” and insult my favorite pizzeria than ever say that word. I can assure you that no one, and I mean not one person who is from Jersy says “Joisey.” I do however add a nice hard Z to my pronunciation. Sometimes we call it “Dirty Jerz” too.

But no matter what I call it: Jersey, New Jersey, The Garden State or whatever other amazing nicknames there are, my favorite thing to call New Jersey is home.

Cover Image Credit: lostinsuburbiablog / WordPress

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Just Because I Like Girls, Doesn't Mean I Like You

Lesbians do not sexualize every girl that walks the Earth.

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Freshman year of high school, I came out as a lesbian. I did not get hate from anyone which is very surprising considering the conservative yee-haw town that I live in. The things that I did notice was the locker room situation. It felt like none of my friends wanted to get changed in front of me. It made me feel bad because I really did not look at them in that way. Like at all. No offense to any of my friends from high school who are reading this, but you guys are not my type. And I told you guys that but you still didn't really want to have a locker near mine. Senior year, I took weight lifting. Of course, I had friends in the class but I was so used to choosing a locker away from my friends because I didn't want them to think I was looking at them.

I have noticed that when the stereotypical locker room lesbian is spoken about it seems very perverted. I have been asked if I "go in the bathroom to masturbate" after I changed in the locker room with all those girls. The answer is NO. Who does that? I feel like I can speak about this on behalf of a good percentage of the LGBTQ+ community. We aren't middle schoolers. We know how to act around other people.

Now that I am in college, I feel like the tables have turned. I can go into a locker room with a bunch of people that barely know me and they don't have a problem with getting dressed in the same locker room as me.

My girlfriend, who attends James Madison University, has problems with her hallmates using the same restroom as her. Her roommate avoids being in the room at the same time as her just because she is gay. They all avoid going to shower at the same time as her because that is just how society is these days.

To all girls who believe that every lesbian is looking at them in a sexual way, don't flatter yourself.

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