In a study done by the Williams Institute (2012-2017), an estimated 1.4 million US adults identified as transgender. Since that study, the LGBTQI+ community has continued to expand. An ever-growing number of people openly identify differently than their assigned gender. As a result, it is imperative that we actively inquire as to what people identify as. The more we do so, the more we will be able to respect the identity of those within our lives. Below are seven ways that you can respect people’s gender identity.
- Ask people what their pronouns are.
When we ask people what their pronouns are, we demonstrate that we respect and support their individual identity. Asking about pronouns is simple. You can simply introduce yourself to people by stating your name and pronouns, after which you can ask what their pronouns are.
- Ask questions about how you can respect their identity.
Asking non-judgmental questions will prevent you from disrespecting their identity in the future. Having a conversation about something so unique like gender is also a great way to build bonds with people you care about.
- Ask how they want to be complimented.
Depending on how one identifies, one may feel more supported and authentic when being complimented in specific ways. As of now, many compliments are still heavily associated with gender binary stereotypes. Stereotypes say that we should compliment women-identifying people with words like beautiful and pretty, or that we should call male-identifying people with words like strong and handsome. In reality, identity is such a vast spectrum that many simply do not fit into these stereotypes.
- Accept their identity and respect their identity.
Once someone tells you their pronouns, they have just told you about a part of their identity. Identity is a core part of being human. When one does not accept someone’s identity, they are by proxy unaccepting of the entire person. Identity is not a topic to be debated like pineapple pizza. In fact, identity influences our entire lives.
- Start using their correct pronouns.
As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect.” The more you make an effort to use correct pronouns, the sooner it will become your second nature. If you are having trouble remembering someone’s pronouns, you can practice their pronouns on your own time. To make remembering pronouns easier, you can add pronouns onto your acquaintance’s contact information. Whenever a notification arrives, it will remind you of their proper pronouns. If you do forget their pronouns, you can easily substitute their pronouns with their name to avoid misgendering them.
- Educate yourself.
Educating yourself about gender identity will help you be more supportive of other gender identities. It may also help you learn about your own identity and the power gender has in our society. Some great websites to learn about gender identity are GLAAD, GLSEN, Trans Equality or Ted.
- Let people know your pronouns.
By letting people know your pronouns, you are creating a space that respects transgender and nonbinary identities. The more we tell others our pronouns, add pronouns to social media profiles, and add pronouns to signatures, the more normalized it will be for society to respect transgender and cisgender identities alike.
In a 2012-2015 survey published by the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than half of the transgender male teens reported attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime. Additionally, 29.9 percent of the transgender female teens participating had reported attempts of suicide, while among non-binary youth 41.8 percent of respondents reported attempted suicide. With so many transgender people attempting suicide at least once in their lifetime, it is imperative that we work together to create a more respecting, accepting and safe environment for transgender people. By respecting gender identities, we can save lives.
Did you enjoy this story? Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to find out when new stories are published.
Learn how to join our Writers Cohort here.
Want to continue building community? Download our iOS app.