There are many gender identities and sexual orientations that anyone can feel connected to or identify with.
More and more terms have been popularized over the years to represents the emotions and experiences of queer individuals and if you aren’t immersed in the LGBTQ+ culture or the queer community, you might not recognize a few sexual orientations and gender identities due to a lack of representation in mainstream media.
One such term is transgender. Sadly it is one of the more misunderstood queer identities, so we are going to talk about what does it mean to be transgender, discuss the transgender flag meaning, and help you with some information to become a better ally to the trans community.
Because we all need a little education sometimes!
In this article we will cover...
- What Does Transgender Mean?
- Transgender Pride Flag Meaning
- When Is Transgender Pride Day?
- Other Transgender Information to Help You Be A Better Ally
- Don’t tolerate disrespect
- Pronoun usage
- Be patient with someone who is still questioning their gender identity
- Bathroom usage
- Listen to transgender voices
- You can’t tell whether someone is transgender just by looking at them
- Consider confidentiality, outing, and disclosure
- Use gender-neutral language
- Learn and unlearn
- Be appropriate
What Does Transgender Mean?
Some people don’t feel like the sex they were assigned at birth matches their gender identity. Put simply, such people are called transgender.
Transgender is a term that refers to differences in gender identities and someone’s assigned birth gender. Transgender people use a variety of terms to describe themselves. For instance, they could shorten the word transgender to ‘trans,’ trans female, or trans male. When addressing someone, it’s always best to use labels and pronouns they prefer.
There are many different ways that transgender people can express their identity. Some may use their behavior, mannerisms, or dress to express the gender they feel is right for them. Others may have surgery or take hormones to change their body to match the gender they feel represents them accurately.
For some transgender people, gender is much more than being male or female. Transgender people have varied gender expressions and identities. They might identify as genderfluid, genderqueer, transgender, or something else.
Someone whose gender identity matches their sex assigned at birth is called cisgender.
Transgender Pride Flag Meaning
There are many different LGBTQ flags representing most queer identities, so it should come as no surprise there is a flag for transgender people to proudly fly.
Monica Helms, a transgender woman and navy veteran created the transgender flag in 1999. She has said that the idea for the transgender flag ‘came to her when she woke up one morning’. She brought the first transgender flag to the 2000 Phoenix Pride Parade. The Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History later acquired the flag in 2014.
When Monica brought the flag to the pride parade in Phoenix in 2000, many people were interested in her design. People saw it, liked it, and also thought that she had excellent reasons for the colors. After that, the flag took off.
The transgender flag has light blue, pink, and white stripes. Here’s what the colors mean.
- Light blue represents baby boys
- Pink represents girls
- The middle white color is for those who are transitioning, intersex people, and those who feel they have no gender or have a neutral gender like non-binary, genderqueer or genderfluid individuals.
When Is Transgender Pride Day?
Awareness, visibility, remembrance, and celebration are all important in increasing the acceptance and recognition of queer identities and queer folx around the world.
By observing an international day for transgenderism, it is easier for transgender individuals to talk to friends and loved ones – and to feel the love. It also helps foster awareness and increased sensitives from society at large.
So, mark your calendar and plan something special (even if it is just a social media post!) for March 31st, which is International Transgender Day of Visibility (TDOV).
Other Transgender Information to Help You Be A Better Ally
One doesn’t suddenly become a straight ally to transgender people. Becoming an ally to transgender people takes work and is an ongoing process. Below are several tips that will help you become a better ally.
Don’t tolerate disrespect
Transgender people experience hurtful jokes, language, and remarks all the time. People make fun of them because they assume they are confused or should be a gender they don’t relate with.
If you hear such hurtful remarks against transgender people, call it out and seek other allies to support you.
If you are unsure what pronouns someone uses, the simplest thing to do would be to ask. Don’t assume anyone’s pronoun based on how they look or who they’re with.
Once they tell you the pronoun, use it and encourage the people around you to do the same. Even if you make a mistake, remember that you’re still learning. Correct it and move on.
You can help to normalize pronoun discourse in society with small actions every day like signing your emails with your preferred pronouns, giving them when introducing yourself to new people, or by wearing things like enamel pins that explain your pronouns to people without needing to tell them!
Be patient with someone who is still questioning their gender identity
People still questioning their gender identity might pick one or two until they find the pronoun that suits them best.
If you encounter such a person, try to be kind, patient, and respectful. Respect the gender identity they choose, their bodies, names, and their pronouns. Gender is fluid, and people’s experience of it may change over time. It may also never change.
This is not for you to know – nor question. You can be a good ally by familiarizing yourself with terms like demiboy (a person who feels their gender identity partially identifies with a masculine identity but is not wholly binary) or demigirl (a person who feels their gender identity partially identifies with a feminine identity but is not wholly binary).
This way when someone who is struggling with their gender identity does not also need to educate you at the same time.
With different LGBTQ identities coming out, it’s not easy to find gender-diverse restrooms. If you don’t see any gender-neutral bathrooms in your vicinity, remember that you can use the buddy system and accompany a transgender or gender-diverse person to a bathroom.
Never, ever, question someone’s gender and right to be in an assigned bathroom. This is their choice and their choice only. Bathrooms and other gendered spaces are already enough stressful to navigate for non-cis-gendered individuals.
Listen to transgender voices
When a transgender person talks to you about their experiences, listen to what they’re telling you with an open mind. Remember that everyone is an expert at their own gender identity or life and that one of the most vital roles of an ally is to offer a space where they can speak and be themselves.
Remember also, that transgender people have different experiences of their gender. As a result, you shouldn’t generalize one person’s transgender experience.
You can’t tell whether someone is transgender just by looking at them
No one look says someone is transgender. Transgender people do not look the same, and many of them may not even appear to be transgender. If someone you know is transgender, don’t pressure them into coming out or disclosing their gender identity if they’re not comfortable.
If someone wants you or others to know that they are transgender, be patient with them to tell you in their own time. The only thing you might need is to learn their preferred pronouns so that you can address them correctly. Other than this, you don’t need any more information from them until they’re ready to give it to you.
Consider confidentiality, outing, and disclosure
If someone shares their gender identity with you, it’s not your place to discuss it with others. Telling others about someone else’s gender identity is not only an invasion of privacy, but it can create unsafe situations if the society you live in is intolerant of gender differences.
Use gender-neutral language
We are used to referring to people using gendered pronouns. However, to be a transgender ally, you have to learn how to use gender-neutral language.
Refrain from using statements such as’ ladies and gentlemen’ or ‘brother and sister.’ Instead, use more neutral phrases like ‘hi guys,” partner’, ‘folx’ or ‘siblings.’
Learn and unlearn
From an early age, we’ve been taught and socialized to accept the ‘ right ideas about what it means to be a woman or a man. We’ve been taught that the gender binary is the only natural aspect of gender while there are plenty of gender identities and gender expression.
As an ally, you may have to question and unlearn many of the different or traditional ideas about gender. Once you do this, you will be able to learn and embrace different concepts about gender diversity.
Even if you have questions, it would be rude to ask transgender people about their sex life, genitals, or surgical status. If you can’t ask a straight person these questions, don’t ask a transgender person either.