Tips when approaching gender-nonconforming folks

By Jessica Sierocki, co-editor-in-chief.

The world is changing and so are people. In this day and age, people are beginning to feel comfortable finding and expressing who they truly are. For those of us who are not members of the community, here are a few tips for those who have never had the privilege to interact with a gender-nonconforming person.

 

Gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things.

Just because a person is assigned male or female at birth, it does not mean that that is how they wish to be identified. Genitalia does not define how a person perceives or expresses themself. On top of that, sexuality can be just as fluid; everyone, despite gender identity or expression, has their own taste regarding whom they prefer to date or find attractive. This, in no way, is affected by genitalia or one’s gender identity.

 

If you’re unsure of what pronouns to use, just ask.

It’s always better to ask for clarification instead of offending someone. Gender-nonconforming people are referred to with the pronouns “they, them and their,” or whatever pronouns they choose. If you do not feel comfortable using particular pronouns to address a person, just simply use their name, or don’t refer to them at all.

And for all you grammar geeks out there, the word “they” was deemed a singular, third-person pronoun by the American Dialect Society, so it actually is a grammatically correct usage of the word.

 

Even if you do not agree, don’t be rude.

Not all of us have to share the same values. If you do not agree with the pronouns nonbinary folks use, please do not go out of your way to call them the wrong pronoun. Again, if you are ever uncomfortable with a pronoun aside from what sex a person is assigned, call them by their name. No one needs that kind of negativity as they are on their journey of self-discovery. It can be incredibly mean and detrimental.

 

They are just people.

All people deserve to be treated with respect. Period. Just treat gender-nonconforming people like they are regular people, because they are, just like everyone else.

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