Respecting Transgender Coworkers

Trans Etiquette (developed by the Division of Student Life):

  • Respect everyone’s self-identification
  • Do not ask a person’s birth or legal name. If you know it, refuse to use it
  • Use a person’s correct name and pronouns
  • If you don’t know what pronouns or gender labels are correct, ask politely
  • If you make a mistake, apologize, move on, and do better
  • Always affirm (never challenge) a trans person’s gender identity and expression
  • Do not ask private, personal, or invasive questions (ask yourself: is it relevant or my business?)
  • If you have general questions, try Google first
  • If you really want to understand a trans person’s experience, ask permission to ask questions
  • Be careful of your phrasing (never say “when you were a girl” or “Jack was born a woman” because Jack has always been a man, it’s just that everyone else made assumptions about Jack based on the appearance of his body)
  • Be aware of your setting (staff meeting may not be the time for a trans chat)
  • Don’t make assumptions about a person’s transition process
  • Don’t ask if someone is sure they are trans
  • Don’t tell a trans person how hard or uncomfortable this is for you
  • Don’t offer advice for being “read as” a particular gender (ie: “If you just wore a little lipstick…”)
  • Do not “out” a trans person
  • Don’t say “transgendered”