What does transphobia really look like?
Transphobia is discriminating against someone because they’re transgender. Transphobia is often driven by the misunderstanding and lack of acceptance for those who don’t conform to stereotypical gender roles. Transphobic behaviours can be hurtful and cause people to feel lonely and unsafe. Sometimes, we aren’t aware of behaviours that may actually be transphobic, and it’s important to have the insight so that we don’t behave in ways that are discriminatory. Here’s more.
Believing stereotypes about transgender people
A lot of people misunderstand what it means to be transgender and as a result, there are a lot of stereotypes and misconceptions about transgender people. For example, believing that a trans woman is not a ‘real’ woman is a myth and it’s completely untrue. Trans people have every right to be given respect and acknowledged in the same way a cisgendered (someone who identifies with the gender they were assigned at birth) man or woman is.
‘Outing’ people without their consent
Intentionally telling people about someone being transgender without their permission, is disrespectful and can be humiliating to that person. Trans people are not obligated (forced) to tell anyone that they are transgender and if they share this with you, then it’s important to respect their privacy and keep this information to yourself.
Making transphobic ‘jokes’
A joke is not funny if it offends someone or if it’s intended to hurt and humiliate a person. Making or sharing transphobic jokes in real life or online is not okay, Choma, it’s transphobic and harmful. One thing that shouldn’t be joked about is people’s identity and their gender - there are so many challenges that transgender people go through to actually get to a place where they can openly be themselves and we shouldn’t make things any more difficult for them.
How do we end transphobia?
Educate yourself about transgenders - Some people are transphobic because they don’t understand what it means to be transgender. To fix this, it’s important for us to educate ourselves and our loved ones. We can do this by following social media pages like TransGender Support South Africa & Allies or reach out to organisations like Gender Dynamix to get more info. It’s important to note that it’s not the responsibility of transgender individuals or the LGBTQIA community to teach us about their issues, we need to take the initiative to get that knowledge for ourselves.
Respect people’s pronouns - One thing we should normalise, is asking people what their pronouns are and how they’d like to be referred to. If someone prefers ‘they’ or ‘she’, it’s important to respect that and refer to them in that way.
Speak up - Sometimes, we aren’t the ones who make transphobic comments, but we encourage them by not speaking out when people around us are being offensive and/or transphobic. With the many hate crimes committed against transgender people, it’s really important for us to call out people in our circles for making comments that promote transphobia and ignorance.
When we understand that there are so many different genders, we are able to respect people for how they identify and educate ourselves so that we’re not contributing to discrimination and bullying. Transphobia isn’t just about the violent crimes committed against transgender people, it’s also little things like comments, jokes and stereotypes that are harmful and offensive to transgender people.
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