Pronouns and Names
If you don’t know what someone’s preferred pronouns are, feel free to ask, it’s okay to ask. Call them by their chosen name! Most transgender people do not like it when you mention their dead name. A “dead name” is a previously used name that is no longer relevant to their life. When you’re telling stories about someone’s past make sure to use their current pronouns and their current name. Remember when you’re talking to a transgender person, such as a transgender woman, make sure you’re using appropriate terminology such as ma’am or miss (for transmasculine people, sir, and Mister). If you’re not sure about someone’s gender or you’re not comfortable using the gender in which they prefer, just try to avoid gendered language as a whole. We all know mistakes happen so if you end up doing something wrong, like using the wrong pronoun or the wrong name or some sort of gendered language, just make sure you apologize immediately and correct yourself. Always correct yourself, it always helps to make sure that you’re using the correct pronoun. If you didn’t get a chance to apologize immediately, make sure you go out of your way to apologize in private. If it happens in front of a bunch of people, you don’t want to point out something more than it already has been.
Don’t Out Them!
You should not out a transgender person to other people, ever. It is their life, it is their story and it should be something they get to tell people. Some transgender people might still be in the closet. For example, someone back at home might not know about their transition and may still refer to them with their dead name. They may even be in the closet in a sense where they have not told their coworkers or other current acquaintances meaning they may think that they’re cis-gendered as opposed to transgendered.
Asking the Right Questions
This is a big one. Think twice before you stay or ask anything. While you may just be curious, sometimes asking questions can be a little invasive. Especially when it comes to sexual orientation, their body, and various amounts of transition questions. If your friend wants to discuss something about their transition, they will bring it up. Then when they’re talking about subjects, such as sexual orientation, feel free to ask questions relating to that because obviously, they’re willing to talk about it with you. Also, when talking to a transgender person, make sure you avoid queries regarding their bodies and past, because transgender people, as a general statement, have gender dysphoria and when you refer to their previous selves it tends to cause a little bit of internal pain because they don’t like to think of themselves in that way.
Don’t Evaluate Appearance
You should always avoid evaluating one’s gender presentation. Although you may think you are being helpful or encouraging, it can tend to seem a little harsh or critical of you. You should always trust that one will be able to express their own gender in their own way and that they are doing that. If they need help, they will ask. Leading off of gender presentation, you should never refer to how “passable” someone is. If you do so, you’re implying that there is something wrong with being transgender. You should never give out unsolicited advice regarding someone’s being passable.
Being Trans is Not Brave
Don’t call someone brave just for being themselves. Now if they’ve done acts of bravery like not starting transition, not not going through a transition, but they’ve done acts that caused them to need to be brave, that’s a different story. But you should not say you’re brave for being transgender.
Transgender People are People
Lastly, just treat like a person. Although gender might be a big part of one’s identity, it does not play an important part in your relationship with them. Instead, make sure you’re asking questions about their interest in other hobbies and just find common grounds and talk about those. If your friend or family member that is transgender wants to discuss something about their transition, they’ll bring it up and discuss it with you.
Learning how to respect someone transgender might be awkward for some people. Not everyone knows someone that is transgender and if you don’t understand what transgender really is, you could end up offending someone without ever meaning to. Below, I’ve got the top 7 ways on how to respect someone transgender so that you can really respect their wishes and know how to understand someone that is transgender better!
Table of contents:
1 Refer to Them as Their Respective Gender
The very first rule that you’ll have to learn when you are learning how to respect someone transgender is to refer to them by their respective gender, regardless of how they look. If they happen to look like a boy, but want to be referred to as a girl, do it. That is the gender that they relate to and you want to respect that.
2 Watch past Tense
If you’ve been friends with someone that is transgender for a while and you knew them before they finally admitted to being transgender, watch your past tense. Saying things like, ‘before, when you were a girl’ is not respectful to a transgender person. You might think it is perfectly normal, but think about how long your friend has been living a lie.
3 Call Them the Name of Their Choice
If they choose to change their name, let’s say from Jill to Devin, you’ve got to respect that. You can’t keep calling them their birth name, in fact, that is really disrespectful and it could lead to a lot of tension. If they relate to a gender-specific name versus the name they were given, just refer to them as that!
4 Don’t Be Scared to Ask Questions
Of course, you never, ever have to be scared to ask any questions, but remember, keep it to educational questions. You don’t need to ask them if they are getting a sex change or if they are going to be legally reassigned to their chosen gender. Also, don’t rely on your friend to give you all of the information, educate yourself too!
5 Don’t Make It Awkward
Coming out, no matter what type of coming out it is, is hard. It’s difficult, awkward and uncomfortable, so you don’t need to make it more awkward and uncomfortable. Make it as comfortable as possible and really take interest in it. Your trans friend will appreciate it!
6 Respect Privacy
Just because they came out to you, doesn’t give you an all-access pass to everything personal about them. Just like you, you’ve got to respect the privacy of your trans friend and don’t get into a lot of specific questions. If they want you to know all of their information, just like you, they’ll come to you with it.
7 Don’t Assume
Finally, the worst thing that you can do is assume. You don’t ever want to assume that you know every single thing that your friend has been through or everything that they are going to go through. You don’t. Just like nobody knows what you’ve been through or dealt with in your life.
As you can see, there are a lot of steps and ways that you can respect someone that is transgender. It is a difficult thing to deal with, but with a lot of support, someone that is trans can feel comfortable. So, have you ever known someone trans? Tell me!
If you have recently learned of a transgender person in your life, you might not understand their identity and you may be unsure of how to act around them without offending or hurting their feelings. The term “transgender person” in this article means a person who does not identify with the gender they were assigned with at birth. There are transgender people all over the world (e.g. US, Mexico,  India  ) and in a wide variety of cultures (e.g. Native American,  Thai  ). For such people, it is not always easy to explain their gender situation in today’s society. Here’s how to understand and respect someone who challenges your ideas about gender, and who does not easily fall within the category of “male” or “female”.
Thank them. It is very hard to come out to people as transgender. They trust and/or respect you very much to have come out to you. Thank them for trusting you; it will mean a lot to them, because you mean a lot to them.
Respect their gender identity. Think of them as the gender they refer to themselves as and refer to them with their chosen name and gender pronoun (regardless of their physical appearance) from now on. (Unless they are not out, or tell you otherwise. Ask to be sure if or when there are times it is not okay.)
Watch your past tense. When talking of the past try not to use phrases like “when you were a previous gender” or “born a man/woman,” because many transgender people feel they have always been the gender they have come out to you as, but had to hide it for whatever reasons- or at least be aware of when you do it. Ask the transgender person how they would like to be referred to in the past tense. One solution is to avoid referencing gender when talking about the past by using other frames of reference, for instance “Last year”, “When you were a child”, “When you were in high school”, etc. If you must reference the gender transition when talking about the past, say “before you came out as current gender“, or “Before you began transitioning” (if applicable).
Use language appropriate to the person’s gender. Ask what pronouns the transgender person prefers to have used in reference to them and respect that choice. For example, someone who identifies as a woman may prefer feminine words and pronouns like she, her, actress, waitress, etc. A person who identifies as a man may prefer masculine terms like he, his, etc. Other transgender people have begun using gender neutral pronouns such as ze, zir, sie, hir, singular they, etc., but this is a personal preference.  Use the name they ask you to use.
Your friend Jack has just come out as a transgender person, and now wishes to be called Mary. From this point on, you do not say “This is my friend Jack, I’ve known him since grade school.” Instead, you say, “This is my friend Mary, I’ve known her since grade school.” Table any awkwardness you feel for another time when you and Mary can talk privately. Definitely, if you want to remain friends, you will need to respect Mary’s wishes and address her as who she is today, not the person you used to know. despite the fact that the transgendered person IS the person you used to know. (you just know them better now.)
Don’t be afraid to ask.  Many transgender people will be happy to answer most questions, and glad you are taking an interest in their life. Don’t expect the transgender person to be your sole educator. It is your responsibility to inform yourself. Exception: questions about genitalia, surgeries, and former names should usually only be asked if you need to know in order to provide medical care, are engaging in a sexual relationship with the transgender person, or need the former name for legal documentation.
Respect the transgender person’s need for privacy. Do not out them without express permission. Telling people you are transgender is a very difficult decision, not made lightly. “Outing” them without their permission is a betrayal of trust and could possibly cost you your relationship with them. It may also put them at risk, depending on the situation, of losing a lot – or even being harmed. They will tell those they want to, if or when they are ready. This advice is appropriate for those who are living full-time or those who have not transitioned yet. For those living full-time in their proper gender role, very many will not want anyone who did not know them from before they transitioned to know them as any other than their current, i.e. proper, gender.
Don’t assume what the person’s experience is. There are many different ways in which differences in gender identity are expressed. The idea of being “trapped in a man/woman’s body”, the belief that trans women are hyperfeminine/trans men are hypermasculine, and the belief that all trans people will seek hormones and surgery are all stereotypes that apply to some people and not to others. Be guided by what the person tells you about their own situation, and listen without preconceived notions. Do not impose theories you may have learned, or assume that the experience of other trans people you may know or have heard of is the same as that of the person in front of you. Don’t assume that they are transitioning because of past trauma in their lives, or that they are changing genders as a way to escape from their bodies.
Begin to recognize the difference between gender identity and sexuality. Do not assume that their gender correlates with their sexuality – it doesn’t. There are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, and asexual transgender people. If the person comes out to you about their sexual orientation, use the terms they use.
Treat them the same. While they may appreciate your extra attention to them, they don’t particularly appreciate you making a big deal of them. After you are well-informed, make sure you’re not going overboard. Transgender people have essentially the same personalities as they did before coming out. Treat them as you would anybody else.
Most people – including most transgender people – are either male or female. But some people don’t neatly fit into the categories of “man” or “woman,” or “male” or “female.” For example, some people have a gender that blends elements of being a man or a woman, or a gender that is different than either male or female. Some people don’t identify with any gender. Some people’s gender changes over time.
People whose gender is not male or female use many different terms to describe themselves, with non-binary being one of the most common. Other terms include genderqueer, agender, bigender, and more. None of these terms mean exactly the same thing – but all speak to an experience of gender that is not simply male or female.
(Note: NCTE uses both the adjectives “male” and “female” and the nouns “man” and “woman” to refer to a person’s gender identity.)
Some societies – like ours – tend to recognize just two genders, male and female. The idea that there are only two genders is sometimes called a “gender binary,” because binary means “having two parts” (male and female). Therefore, “non-binary” is one term people use to describe genders that don’t fall into one of these two categories, male or female.
Basic Facts about Non-Binary People
Non-binary people are nothing new. Non-binary people aren’t confused about their gender identity or following a new fad – non-binary identities have been recognized for millennia by cultures and societies around the world.
Some, but not all, non-binary people undergo medical procedures to make their bodies more congruent with their gender identity. While not all non-binary people need medical care to live a fulfilling life, it’s critical and even life-saving for many.
Most transgender people are not non-binary. While some transgender people are non-binary, most transgender people have a gender identity that is either male or female, and should be treated like any other man or woman.
Being non-binary is not the same thing as being intersex. Intersex people have anatomy or genes that don’t fit typical definitions of male and female. Most intersex people identify as either men or women. Non-binary people are usually not intersex: they’re usually born with bodies that may fit typical definitions of male and female, but their innate gender identity is something other than male or female.
How to Be Respectful and Supportive of Non-Binary People
It isn’t as hard as you might think to be supportive and respectful of non-binary people, even if you have just started to learn about them.
You don’t have to understand what it means for someone to be non-binary to respect them. Some people haven’t heard a lot about non-binary genders or have trouble understanding them, and that’s okay. But identities that some people don’t understand still deserve respect.
Use the name a person asks you to use. This is one of the most critical aspects of being respectful of a non-binary person, as the name you may have been using may not reflect their gender identity. Don’t ask someone what their old name was.
Try not to make any assumptions about people’s gender. You can’t tell if someone is non-binary simply by looking at them, just like how you can’t tell if someone is transgender just by how they look.
If you’re not sure what pronouns someone uses, ask. Different non-binary people may use different pronouns. Many non-binary people use “they” while others use “he” or “she,” and still others use other pronouns. Asking whether someone should be referred to as “he,” “she,” “they,” or another pronoun may feel awkward at first, but is one of the simplest and most important ways to show respect for someone’s identity.
Advocate for non-binary friendly policies. It’s important for non-binary people to be able to live, dress and have their gender respected at work, at school and in public spaces.
Understand that, for many non-binary people, figuring out which bathroom to use can be challenging. For many non-binary people, using either the women’s or the men’s room might feel unsafe, because others may verbally harass them or even physically attack them. Non-binary people should be supported by being able to use the restroom that they believe they will be safest in.
Talk to non-binary people to learn more about who they are. There’s no one way to be non-binary. The best way to understand what it’s like to be non-binary is to talk with non-binary people and listen to their stories.
“Many of us spend years trying to find out who we are and, sadly, too many of us never do. If we fail to define ourselves, we risk letting others define us…We buy into labels that keep us in a box and, as a result of those limitations, never realize our full potential” (Graham, Identity: Passport to Freedom). Respect, regardless of who we are speaking of, is simply allowing someone to be who they are. Stedman Graham, Identity Development consultant, articulates just how hard it can be to be oneself – this is especially more difficult when we don’t feel respected.
What does it mean to be Transgender?
In general, most of us have grown up with a view of gender being a binary concept – one is either male or female. However, today the medical, psychological and sociological communities recognize that human development can follow many paths. In fact, there is a continuum of options, not just a binary choice along a number of different axes. Moreover, most people really never think about any difference between gender identity and sexual orientation.
In fact, even within some of these concepts, there are a variety of differences in how one may feel or identify themselves and how they will show or express oneself. At a high level, Transgender means there is an incongruence between one’s gender identity/expression and one’s biological/assigned sex at birth. For most transgender people, the gender transition journey is often filled with identifying and coming to terms with many fears. They must weigh and balance their potential gains and losses in their lives:How can I support and show respect to a transgender person?
How can I support and show respect to a transgender person?
- Gains include: living authentically to oneself; realness and community
- Losses include: job security/career, marriage/family, physical safety, legal rights
The ripple effect of positive support and respect will have provide positive, on-going dividends. Support is critical to both a successful gender transition and to engaging with the transgender population. Here are 5 simple ways you can show your respect and support a transgender person:
Declare your Support:
You can show respect by declaring your support and you can do this privately, but it has greater benefit if it is more public, as it can encourage others to demonstrate both respect and support. Provide assurance of your support to the individual. This act can enable trust and you will find that the individual will be open in answering any questions you might have.
Demonstrate Maturity and Confidentiality as Appropriate:
If you work with someone undergoing a transition, employers expect colleagues to always conduct themselves in a professional manner in line with business values and conduct guidelines. Take the step of clearly stating your conversations will be held strictly confidential.
Ask Questions and Listen:
Sometimes you may worry you are offending a Transgender person by asking questions, but it shows openness. Ask the individual for suggestions on how you can support him or her during their transition or anytime. Ask the individual if they plan to change their name. If they do or already have one, ask what name and pronoun they will use and when they wish you to begin referring to him or her with the new name and pronoun. If you’re not sure how to ask the question, follow this simple tip from GLAAD (the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation): “If you’re unsure which pronoun a person uses, listen first to the pronoun other people use when referring to the person. Someone who knows the person well will probably use the correct pronoun.”
Don’t change how you interact with the individual:
If you were friends before the colleague transitioned or if you’re now just learning that he or she is Transgender – they are still the same person. You don’t need to change your relationship based on this new knowledge. If you have a history of having discussions about family life with your colleague, you may want to ask him or her how he or she now wishes to have their spouse or partner referred to during and after the transition.
Be Open to Feedback and Learn More:
Respecting others means you are open to receiving feedback if they feel they were disrespected. The National Center for Transgender Equality, “there is no one way to be a ‘perfect’ ally.” But you can always “take your education into your own hands. It’s important to have conversations with the trans people in your life, but it’s also important for you to seek out resources and information on your own.” They also recommend the following resources: Frequently Asked Questions about Transgender PeopleUnderstanding Non-Binary PeopleAbout Transgender People:
- Frequently Asked Questions about Transgender People
- Understanding Non-Binary People
- About Transgender People
To quote famous novelist George Elliot, who was really the pen name for Mary Ann Evans, “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” Imagine you didn’t feel safe to be who you really wanted to be and use that to empathize with the transgender people in your life, or anyone for that matter and you will show them respect.
It’s important that cisgender and transgender people work together to support transgender people and issues, and to end transphobic harassment and discrimination.
Support is important.
Transgender people are more visible in the media and in our society than ever before. Transgender communities are fighting for equal rights. While great progress has been made, there’s still a lot of work to do to make sure everyone feels safe expressing their true gender identity and are given the same rights as cisgender people.
Far too many transgender people are negatively affected by transphobia. Transphobia can result in violence and even murder. It can also result in depression, substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide. A 2011 survey conducted by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and National Center for Transgender Equality showed that 41% of trans people had attempted suicide, as compared to 1.6% of the general population.
It’s important that everyone — cisgender and transgender — work together to create communities that are welcoming to trans and gender nonconforming people. Everyone deserves to live in a world free of violence and discrimination, including those whose gender identity and expression doesn’t match their assigned sex. Everyone can play a part in supporting transgender people and making communities safer and more inclusive.
What do I call people who are transgender?
Respect the words a person uses to describe themselves. Transgender and gender nonconforming people use many different terms to describe their experiences and not all terms fit all people. Some trans people may use terms that others are uncomfortable with. It’s important to ask people what language they want you to use. It’s okay to ask someone for their preferred name and pronouns. Always use the name and pronouns they choose.
If a trans person isn’t sure which identity label fits them best, give them the time to figure it out for themselves. The terms or language a person prefers may change over time, and that’s totally normal and okay.
Where can I learn more?
The Trevor Project’s publication, “A Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth”
PFLAG National’s publication, “Our Trans Loved Ones: Questions and Answers for Parents, Families, and Friends of People Who Are Transgender and Gender Expansive”
Tharika is a young transgender woman aged 19 years from a remote village of Tamil Nadu. In 2014, transgender people were granted legal status of ‘third gender’ in India, however a recent reversal of the law has made same-sex acts illegal once again. Tharika was supported by the Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) Chennai Branch by providing a comprehensive package of SRH and HIV services, including gender transition.
“I am the only son of my parents. They raised me with love and affection. My life was ‘normal’ until I was 14 years of age. When I was a student, I felt some changes in my behaviour. I started wearing my mother’s clothes. I realized that I am actually a women captured in a male body.
In my school, my classmates started bullying me. I tried to talk to my teacher about the bullying, but she just did not want to listen to me. My parents were also unable to help me. One day at school when one of my peers started bullying me, I was so stressed that I punched him very hard. The school authorities suspended me from school. I felt insecure and unprotected. That day I decided to run away from my village.
The next day I landed in Chennai. One day when I was roaming aimlessly in the streets, I met a peer educator of a community organization working with the transgender community. She took me to the drop-in-centre where I met many members of my community. They all became my friends.
My friends took me to the Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) clinic in Chennai, where they are providing hormonal therapy free of cost. There I met an outreach worker who was very friendly. She helped me to enroll myself for the therapy. After getting my consent and after a number of tests, the doctor started me on hormonal therapy.
I have now been taking these pills for the past year. I have also undergone laser hair removal, breast implantation, and voice therapy at an institution referred by the clinic. Now my physical appearance has completely changed. I have become a complete woman in appearance. My dream of becoming a woman has come true.
One day the outreach worker took me to visit my parents. That was my first visit to my parents after five years. They were very happy to see me. They embraced me with tears in their eyes. My mother was surprised to see me as a woman. My parents asked me to stay with them, but now that I am working in Chennai, I visit my parents only in weekends.
FPAI has helped me a lot. They helped me to realize my dream to become a woman, gave me the confidence to face the world, and helped me to rejoin my family. I will remain ever grateful to FPAI.”
Family Planning Association of India (FPAI) operates over a total of 4,000 service points, and primarily focuses on under-served rural areas and urban slums. The centres offer youth-friendly services that prepare young people for their future by building the confidence and self-esteem essential to forge healthy relationships, including LGBTI youth.
Graphic: People holding a large rainbow flag
Request for Proposal: consultant for capacity development programme on SOGISC
Commission releases report on ‘rainbow human rights
Building partnerships with police and prison officials
SUHAKAM study finds widespread discrimination against transgender people
Equality and freedom from discrimination are fundamental human rights that belong to everyone, regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics.
However, lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex (LGBTI) people in the Asia Pacific region can experience shocking levels of violence, harassment and discrimination.
This includes extra-judicial killing, torture, rape, arbitrary detention, unfair trials and, in the case of women, forced pregnancy and forced marriage. They face exclusion and discrimination in relation to work, education and accessing health and housing services.
People who are gender diverse can also face barriers getting legal recognition of their sex in official documents and government records.
In April 2017, LGBTI activists and allies from different corners of the globe came together to develop a roadmap for equality.
Ten years on from the adoption of the Yogyakarta Principles, an international conference organised by the APF and UNDP considered a range of practical steps to better promote and protect the fundamental human rights of LGBTI people.
Graphic: LGBT I community in India celebrates around rainbow flag
Promoting and Protecting Human Rights: Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity and Sex Characteristics
The APF-UNDP manual explores how NHRIs can work with lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities and better advocate for their rights
National human rights institutions (NHRIs) in the Asia Pacific region are strong advocates for the rights of all people, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity or sex characteristics.
The Yogyakarta Principles provide a framework for the work of our members, which includes research, recommendations for reform of laws and policies, investigating and resolving complaints and education and awareness raising activities. They do this work by establishing strong partnerships with LGBTI organisations.
On the international stage, NHRIs draw attention to the rights of LGBTI people in their reports to human rights treaty bodies, the Universal Periodic Review and other UN bodies.
The APF has been actively and consistently supporting our members in this vital area of work over the past decade.
Representatives from NHRIs and civil society groups describe the challenges facing LGBTI people and the need to establish strong partnerships to better advocate for their rights.
2016-2017: APF-UNDP partnership to strengthen NHRIs
The APF and UNDP Asia Pacific Regional Hub entered into an 18-month partnership agreement to support NHRIs in the region to better work with LGBT) communities and advocate for their human rights. The partnership has delivered a wide range of practical outcomes, including a world-first publication, a blended learning training program, an international conference and practical guidelines for NHRIs to mainstream LGBTI rights into their everyday work.
2015: Workshop on the Role of National Human Rights Institutions in Promoting and Protecting the Human Rights of LGBTI people in Asia and the Pacific
A new roadmap to guide NHRI activities was adopted in February 2015 at a regional workshop convened by the APF and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), in cooperation with the Asia Pacific Coalition on Male Sexual Health (APCOM). The workshop involved representatives from 16 APF members and representatives from civil society organisations in the Asia Pacific region.
2012-2013: Documenting the capacity of national human rights institutions
Over the year to March 2013, the APF, the International Development Law Organization, UNDP and SAARCLAW (the legal apex body of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) worked with NHRIs in Bangladesh, India, Indonesia, Nepal, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Timor Leste to document their capacity to promote the rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity and to respond to human rights violations. The process revealed strong efforts by these NHRIs to build their institutional capacity and to foster relationships with diverse sexual orientation and gender identity communities.
2010-2011: Supporting the initiatives of our members
In 2010, the APF coordinated a joint funding application to secure financial support to assist four member institutions implement a range of targeted activities to raise awareness and bolster protection for the rights of LGBTI people. The projects, undertaken by the NHRIs of Australia, Mongolia, New Zealand and the Philippines all took place prior to April 2011.
2010: Advisory Council of Jurists reference
The APF’s Advisory Council of Jurists conducted an in-depth study of the domestic laws and policies relating to sexual orientation and gender identity in each of the 17 APF member institutions at that time. The report, published in December 2010, assessed the consistency of these laws and policies with international human rights standards and provided recommendations to assist NHRIs address identified shortcomings. The ACJ report and recommendations provide a framework for the work of our members in promoting and protecting the rights of people of diverse sexuality and gender identity.
2009: APF Regional Workshop on the Yogyakarta Principles
In May 2009, the APF brought together member institutions to discuss the role of NHRIs in promoting implementation of the Yogyakarta Principles. The regional workshop, the first of its kind, concluded with a range of concrete outcomes that helped provide a roadmap for our members to plan and undertake work in their countries to promote the human rights of people of diverse sexual orientation and gender identity.
International recognition of SOGISC rights
The rights of people of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and sex characteristics are increasingly being given greater attention through the international human rights system. NHRIs are also raising the issue at the UN Human Rights Council and in their reports to the human rights treaty bodies and the Universal Periodic Review.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are complex topics, but the rigid concepts that our society has held about both are outdated, and the world is thinking about sexuality, gender identity and expression in a much more diverse way.
You may identify as LGBTQ, or know someone who does. You may be questioning your own sexuality or gender identity, or you might also know others who are questioning theirs. TeenCentral believes that basic human rights, respect and kindness are important for everyone.
If you want to learn more about how you can be an ally for the LGBTQ community, read some of the suggestions below!
Gender identity is not sexual identity.
Sexual orientation is who a person is attracted to; gender identity is your inner sense of being male, female someplace in-between or neither. Don’t make assumptions about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. Gender identity and sexual orientation are separate and distinct from each other.
Everyone has a unique identity.
What’s your “real name” or “real gender?” are OFFENSIVE questions.
Asking someone this question implies that the name they gave you is not authentic, valid or real, as is asking someone what their “real” gender is. Someone’s identity is not up for debate, it is what they say it is. Don’t be disrespectful-consider how it would feel if someone asked you these questions.
Respect people’s privacy.
Gender identity and sexual orientation are personal. If someone chooses to come out to you, it probably means that they trust you. Honor their trust and be sure that you check with them before telling anyone else what they have told you or saying something in a larger group. They may not be telling everyone and you may “out” them.
Ask about pronouns.
It’s important to respect the name and pronouns a person uses. If you’re not sure, just ask- what pronouns do you prefer? Or, you can start the conversation by giving the person you are speaking with the pronouns that you prefer. Imagine how it might feel if someone constantly used the wrong pronouns to describe you (misgendered you).
Set an inclusive tone and avoid ignorant compliments.
Introduce yourself by stating your own preferred pronouns, support gender-neutral public bathrooms and use gender-neutral language. Refrain from identifying people in gender –specific ways (an example could be saying “hi everyone” instead of hey guys/girls”). And although you may be trying to be supportive, statements such as “I would not have known you are trans, you’re so pretty” are insulting and hurtful because they are ignorant.
Show your support and challenge hateful speech.
Educate people around you if they are unaware of how to be an ally. Challenge the use inappropriate and disrespectful language that demeans the LGBT community (transphobic or homophobic language). Some people attempt to pass this off as “joking.” Remind them that it is not funny- it is disrespectful, hurtful and makes people feel unsafe. Don’t allow it in your presence.
Know your own limits.
Don’t be afraid to acknowledge that you don’t know something. Let people know you don’t know or ask where you can get more information. One of the best ways to find out is to listen to LGBTQ people in your community about their thoughts, feelings and experiences.