Learning to increase your transgender sensitivity

Elliot Page, actor and star of the movie Juno, has become the most recent celebrity to come out as transgender. In an age such as this where more people are able to embrace their true gender identities, it is important for people to increase their understanding of the diverse range of genders. The following list of words are essential vocabulary for a gender-inclusive world.

It is also important to note that there is no linear connection between a person’s sex, gender, gender expression, gender presentation, sexual orientation, sexual partners and pronouns. All of these can be mixed and matched. Therefore, it is essential not to make assumptions about a person's identity based on stereotypes.

Pronouns: Pronouns are words that can be used in place of a person or object’s name. It, she, ze and they are all examples of pronouns. Oftentimes a person’s gender identity comes with a specific set of pronouns — like how Elliot Page’s gender identity is a man, and their pronouns are he and they. Pronouns can vary: it all depends on what a person is most comfortable with. As a general practice, it is good to ask for a person’s pronouns instead of assuming. It is also helpful to include your personal pronouns in places such as an email tag, Zoom name or social media bios.

Neopronouns: Neopronouns are pronouns that some people use in place of he, she or they. Xe/xem/xyr, ze/hir/hirs and ey/em/eir are all neopronouns.

Transgender / Cisgender: Transgender is an identity that indicates a person’s true gender is different than the one they were assigned at birth. Cisgender is an identity that indicates a person’s true gender is the same as the one they were assigned at birth.

Trans man / trans woman: A trans man is a man. A trans woman is a woman. Oftentimes trans men were assigned female at birth (AFAB) and trans women were assigned male at birth (AMAB).

Non-binary: A non-binary person is someone who breaks the boundaries of the two-gender social system. Non-binary people could be neither man nor woman, or they could be a mix of man and woman.

Deadname: A person’s deadname is a name they were previously assigned but no longer use. When a person comes out as trans, they may change their name to better reflect their gender. Their deadname is the name they used before coming out, and it is common courtesy to refrain from deadnaming someone once they have shared their new name.

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