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Student Advice and Signposting Hub

Trans Students

A common experience for trans people is to have their identities ignored or misunderstood. Referring to people by the name and pronoun they identify with shows respect and an understanding of trans people. If you don’t know how someone identifies, use clues such as what they’re wearing or their name. If you’re still unsure, ask them in a polite way. If you make a mistake, apologise and move on. (McNeil & Gale, 2013) 

  • Respect the terminology a transgender person uses to describe their identity. If you don’t know what pronouns to use, listen first.
  • Offer assurance and affirmation of their gender. Use their preferred name and pronoun. If you aren't sure what their preferred pronoun is, ask. Sometimes you can use you/they/we or the person's name if you aren't sure. If you make a genuine mistake and use the wrong pronoun, correct yourself, apologise briefly and move on without making a big deal out of it.
  • Respect privacy and personal boundaries. Avoid asking personal or probing questions. Do not ask about 'birth', 'old' or 'real' name or gender. Do not ask about whether someone has had or intends to have any medical procedure or surgery.
  • Do not tell others about someone's trans status or history without their explicit consent. Discussing trans status without explicit consent to do so is harassment.
  • Don’t make assumptions about a trans person's sexual orientation, Gender identity is different than sexual orientation.
  • Don't be afraid to admit when you don't know something. It is better to admit you don't know something than to make assumptions or say something that may be incorrect or hurtful. Seek out the appropriate resources that will help you learn more.

'Trans' is an inclusive term for those who identify themselves as transgender, transsexual or transvestite. The term 'trans' can be used without offence but should only be used as an adjective, for example 'a trans student'. Trans is an umbrella term encompassing all those who do not identify with the sex they were assigned at birth, including but not limited to those who are transgender, genderqueer, agender and non-binary.

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