For people who are transgender their assigned sex at birth do not align with their gender identity. This in turn can cause gender dysphoria which is a clinically significant distress where one desires to be another gender. However, some people don’t experience dysphoria and they are still valid in their identity.
Its important to note that sex and gender are two different things. Sex being the trait that determines the individual’s reproductive function. Sometimes people are born with several sex characteristics and this is called being intersex (chromosomes, genitalia and gonads) some people can go their whole lives without knowing. Thus they don’t fit in the binary male or female category. And the other being gender (which is a social construct) that is the range of characteristics pertaining to femininity and masculinity. For girls, they are expected to lean towards things like princesses, make-up and dolls while boys are taught from a young age to like trucks, dinosaurs as well as action figures.
Children, from a young age, are conditioned to be either feminine or masculine. These strong stereotypes make it difficult for transgender kids to feel comfortable in expressing their true identity for the sake of being made fun of from their peers.
Some of the common misconceptions are that the pronouns they/them/theirs cannot be used to describe a singular person. However, we use this in everyday language for example, if someone says: “My friend is going to come over to my house.” A following question could be “When are they going to arrive?”. It shows that as we people we already use some neutral ways of describing people.
When someone comes out as transgender, its important to be respectful, even if you don’t understand. This is a learning experience for everyone so when you miss use a pronoun or a different name, just apologize and move on. Throughout time, it will be easier when addressing someone.
There has been representation on the media throughout the past few years teaching people to be inclusive because no one truly knows what it feels like to be transgender unless that is something you experience and feeling like a minority can be extremely lonesome as a young person. Some examples of this can be found in children’s books such as “Love Makes a Family” by Sophie Beer which talks about the different families that can exist. For allies of the LGBTQ+ community, here is a list of some things you can do to create an inclusive space: wearing pronoun pins, using gender neutral language, listening to trans voices and attending a pride march. Even if you are cisgender, it is still necessary to show your support because being kind to those around you can make a world of a difference as well as teach others how to be good companion.