6 Tips For Being Trans Inclusive At Summer In The City

3 August 2018, 13:11 | Updated: 3 August 2018, 13:58

Summer In The City
Summer In The City. Picture: Various

By Darragh Briscomb

With Summer in the City right around the corner, our guest writer Darragh Briscomb has a few tips to make sure you have trans-inclusive weekend.

If you’re going to Summer in the City this year, you’ll no doubt meet loads of people for the first time IRL, some of who will be trans. If you haven’t been blessed with trans pals in your day-to-day, offline life, you might not realise that there are a few things to consider when you’re hanging out with and meeting trans folks for the first time. So in the spirit of having a really heckin’ joyful weekend, here’s an easy-peasy guide to being trans-inclusive at Summer In The City – or anywhere, for that matter!

1. Pronouns, Pronouns, Pronouns

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You might encounter some people who use a different pronoun than what you assume they would use – these might be trans people who aren’t out to family, or have only just come out, and are still learning how to pass in public. If you don’t know someone’s pronouns, it’s okay to ask them to clarify. Some people might give you their pronouns in their introduction.

They might use he/she/they, or perhaps something a bit more abstract like "xe". You shouldn’t refer to someone as an ‘it’ if you don’t know what pronoun to use. The pronoun to use if you don’t know someone’s gender is they.

“Hi, my name is ___ and I use the pronouns ___/___,” Is one way that transgender people might introduce themselves.

“Oh my god, their jumper is adorable and I need it,” Is how you can refer to someone when you don’t know their pronoun.

Don’t get angry with people who correct your pronoun use either; they just want to feel comfortable.

2. Phrasing

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If you’re talking to a transgender person, be careful in the way you phrase certain sentences. Although it may seem like a compliment, “You look like a real boy, I’d never have known you were transgender!” isn’t a compliment.

It’s more of a backhanded compliment – they feel as though you are implying that they aren’t authentic.

Another one I’ve heard said that is a big no-no is “Oh I’m sorry, you just don’t look very feminine, so I forgot,” when someone corrected their pronoun use. This will hit hard; people work really hard to pass in society so that sort of phrasing will make someone super dysphoric.

3. Bathrooms!

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Everyone needs to use the bathroom occasionally. Luckily, SITC are super prepared for their transgender guests and have had gender neutral bathrooms for the last few years.

However, they don’t just offer gender neutral toilets, and not everyone knows where they are, so here is a good way to handle directing someone to the bathroom:

There’s the women’s bathroom in that direction, the men’s in this direction and the non-binary bathrooms down the stairs.”

By directing them to all of the bathrooms, you’re avoiding making someone uncomfortable, and they can show their friends if they end up needing the bathroom too!

4. Questions

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It is pretty much inevitable for a transgender person to get questions at these sorts of events, especially if you’re making new friends – everyone seems to want to know your business! I recommend not asking any questions about being transgender unless they have given you permission to ask. If you are asking questions, here are a few topics to avoid:

· Surgery

· Therapies

· “What bathroom do you use?”

· Anything to do with sex

If you want to talk about transgender stuff to a transgender person, bring up something more interesting than those topics that they’ve no doubt explained 100 times – ask for their opinions on the transgender laws, American transgender laws, and other interesting topics!

5. Key offensive things

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There are a few topics that almost every transgender person will find offensive, and some topics, which the majority will find offensive that I’m going to bring up:

· Don’t use the term ‘Transsexual’ or ‘Transvestite’ – these are no longer the correct terms and a lot of transgender people will find these terms offensive, especially ‘transvestite’ or the shortened version ‘tranny’

· Don’t ask anything considered private, especially their birth name.

· Don’t imply that they are cross-dressing

· Don’t say things like: “That’s a woman’s t-shirt,” or “That’s a man’s drink.”

Avoiding these topics in conversation means that you’ll avoid accidentally offending someone.

6. What to do if you get something wrong

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To error is human, but to be offended is equally as human. If you accidentally misgender someone, or ask something inappropriate without realising, you may find that the person you're speaking to gets upset. That's absolutely fine, and all you can do is apologise and let them take the lead on how they want to move forward. They might be completely cool with it, but sometimes they might need a little bit of space. And that's valid.

The main point? Respect. Respect yourself, others and the creators you are meeting and have a great time at SITC!