How to Respect a Transsexual Person
This page is about transsexual people, i.e. people born with
a brain that is normal for one gender, and chromosomes and an
external body that seemed normal for the opposite sex. The term
gender, when used below, always means the gender the person identifies
- Accept me as a full-fledged member of the gender I identify
- Always use the language that corresponds to my gender identity,
e.g. he, she, even if my body does not seem to match yet and
even when talking about my past.
- If you are still adjusting, it's normal to make mistakes.
Don't draw attention to it by saying "sorry". Just
correct yourself right after and carry on.
- If I identify as male, never use female-marked words like
girl, waitress, breasts, vagina, etc. to describe anything about
me, and vice versa. Always use language that corresponds to my
gender. For example, if I am a female-to-male transsexual person,
I am always a guy and never a girl. Don't call me "female-bodied",
unless I use that term myself.
- A transsexual girl is male-to-female. A transsexual guy is
female-to-male. Never the other way around.
- Gender identity has nothing to do with sexual orientation.
Whether I am attracted to men, women, both or neither is a totally
separate thing from whether I am male or female. For example,
if I am a trans girl who likes girls, treat me no differently
than any other lesbian woman.
- Don't expect me to conform to the stereotypes of my gender.
I'll wear whatever clothes I like and have whatever interests
I have. Being masculine or feminine (i.e. having mannerisms or
interests that are seen by society as stereotypical of one gender)
has nothing to do with being male or female (i.e. identifying
as a certain gender). Butch trans women and feminine trans guys
exist, just like they do among non-transsexual people.
- For almost all trans people, being transsexual is not a choice
or a decision. It is a simple reality. The only "decision"
is whether to accept my situation and fix it to live a healthier
life, or deny it and suffer.
- Never mention my old name or ever ask what it was. Instead
of saying "back when you were Fred", say "before
you came out as female".
- Don't use my name in the 3rd person as if I was a person
separate from myself, e.g. "are you dressing as Lisa now?"
- I am a person, a guy or a girl, a man or a woman, foremost.
If you must use the word transsexual (or trans), it's better
to use it as an adjective to describe a person, not as a noun
onto itself, e.g. trans people, trans folks, trans guy.
- When it comes down to it, the matter is very simple: I am
a guy or a girl. That's all!
- Use the word "transition" to describe what I am
going through or went though.
- The changes I make to my body are not purely cosmetic, but
rather reconstructive. Having a body I am comfortable with is
vital to my health and in my social and physical interactions
with other people.
- Don't openly talk about my genitals any more than you would
for a non-trans person, unless I bring up the topic myself.
- Don't immediately assume that genital sexual reassignment
surgery (SRS) is my priority. Every transsexual person is unique
and chooses different steps during their transition, based on
many factors. Not everyone wants SRS.
- Being transsexual is a very personal matter. Treat it with
- I'm not here to shock anyone or get attention. I am not selfish.
I'm just a person like anyone else, and I have a right to be
healthy and live in my honest gender.
- If I blend well (i.e. I pass) or if I am online, then don't
tell anyone I am transsexual unless they are too. Just talk about
me like any other normal guy or girl, according to my gender
- If I am visibly gender variant (i.e. I don't pass) and am
out as transsexual, it's OK to educate your friends, e.g. about
pronouns, before meeting me in person.
- Don't introduce me as your "transsexual" friend.
Don't ask me to explain my life story or my gender situation
to people I just met.
- Ask permission before taking a photo of me or before displaying
old, pre-transition pictures of me.
- Don't call me whenever a documentary about transsexuals is
on TV just because I am transsexual. I already know what being
transsexual is about! But do it if I am genuinely interested
in the subject.
The Nature of Gender
- Gender comes from the way our brain, mind and/or soul is
configured, not from the body. Chromosomes, hormones, upbringing,
etc. do not determine or change a person's gender.
- The only person who can know about their gender is themself.
No external "clues" can prove or disprove somebody's
true inner gender. Some people knew it their entire lives. Some
manage to deny it for a long time. Some always knew there was
something different. Some did a lot of soul searching to figure
out they were male or female and that this was a legitimate medical
- Don't call a non-transsexual woman a "real girl"
or "completely female".
- This page only deals with transsexual people specifically.
- Do not confuse transsexuality with cross-dressing. Cross-dressers
are men who like to wear women's clothing for sexual or fetishized
reasons. These men do not identify as female and are often straight.
- Do not confuse transsexual people with drag queens or kings.
Drag performers will wear elaborate and often stereotypical clothes
of the opposite gender on stage for show or to do impersonations.
This is most often done by gays and lesbians.
- The term "transgendered" is an umbrella term that
includes any and all gender variant people: transsexual people,
cross-dressers, drag kings and queens, intersex, genderqueer
and bigendered people, and many other types. Be careful when
using it. For example, many transsexual people don't like to
be associated with cross-dressers.
- The short form "trans" can mean either transsexual
or transgendered. On this page, we use it to mean transsexual.
- The term "tranny" is slang for transsexual, either
as an adjective or noun. Many feel that it is offensive, on par
with words like fag, dyke and nigger. As such, many feel that
only trans people themselves can reclaim it and use it. In some
cities, however, it only means cross-dresser and not transsexual.
Use it with much caution, if at all.
- The term "she-male" is vulgar and never appropriate.
It is used by the pornography industry to objectify and fetishize
pre-operative transsexual women.
- Don't call it cross-dressing if I am wearing clothes that
match my gender. Cross-dressing is if I wear clothes of the opposite
gender, e.g. a female-to-male transsexual man wearing women's
- If I am a transsexual guy getting top surgery, then I am
not "getting my breasts removed", I am getting a chest
If I Just Came Out
- If I have just come out as my new gender, you should use
my new name and pronouns with me and with all (and only those)
who know about me, even (and especially!) with people who are
still struggling to adjust to my correct gender. Be casual about
it. Don't make a big deal about it.
- If I haven't told everyone yet that I am trans, then don't