Issues trans people face and how to avoid them

Kai Neve-Jones, Assistant Photo Editor

I am transgender. I was born female and I am planning on transitioning to male both socially and physically. I use he/they pronouns and I identify as both FtM (female to male) and non-binary. I have a biased perspective on gender and trans rights due to this. I also have the first-hand experience with some issues trans people face.

Some gender non-conforming folks don’t identify under the transgender umbrella; however, to avoid confusion, I am using transgender as an umbrella term that includes people who are gender non-conforming.

 According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2020, 44 transgender and gender non-conforming people were killed. So far in 2021, there have been twelve people killed. Most victims of this type of violence are trans women. 

Trans people have to face that threat of violence every day because in public we don’t know who’s accepting and who’s not. While Kalamazoo is a fairly accepting place, I still walk down the street on edge, keeping safety tips in the back of my mind just in case. Tips like keeping my keys pushed between my knuckles, being aware of who and where everyone around me is, not having headphones in, and not walking alone unless I have to. My uneasiness may also be due to being raised as a female. 

 Infantilization is an issue mainly trans men and gender-nonconforming people face. There is a stereotype that we are soft and effeminate just because we are trans. This issue relates to the problem of trans men not being seen as their actual gender.

Many trans people are not seen as the gender they identify as. It is not a good feeling when I am referred to as a trans man in situations where it’s not appropriate. When I’m being introduced to strangers, they do not need to be aware of what gender I was assigned at birth. 

This issue relates to super straight, a ‘sexuality’ that states that those who identify with super straight are attracted to the opposite sex, excluding trans individuals. Having a genital preference does not equal a sexuality, and not all trans individuals have the genitals they were born with. You can have a preference without being transphobic.  

Non-binary and gender non-conforming individuals have other issues binary trans folks do not have to deal with. They are often told their gender is invalid and not natural. They are told their pronouns are confusing and those who go by they/them are told their pronouns are not singular. 

They can not be stealth (not open about the fact that they are trans and choose to pass as a cis person) and always have to correct others, and there are not many medical transition options for them.

If you wish to be more inclusive, one of the big things you can do is inform yourself. There are lots of amazing guides to gender on the internet or in book form if you prefer. I would really recommend Ash Hardell, they have a youtube channel with lots of good information and a book called the “ABCs of LGBT+.” If you know someone who is trans, treat them as their gender, don’t refer to them as your trans friend. If a trans person corrects you on something you are doing, listen to them and absorb the information they are giving you. At the end of the day ask the individual what they need to feel safe and accepted and what might be okay for some might not be okay for others.