Trans 101 Guide


trans & gender nonconforming reality

  • Transgender people are four times more likely to live in poverty.

  • They face staggering levels of discrimination & violence. In 2013, 72% of anti-LGBT homicide victims were trans women.

  • Transgender people experience unemployment at twice the rate of the general population, with rates for people of color up to four times the national unemployment rate.

  • 90% of transgender people report experiencing harassment, mistreatment or discrimination on the job.

  • 41% of respondents reported attempting suicide, compared to 1.6% of the general population.

  • Transgender people, particularly transgender women of color, face shockingly high rates of murder, homelessness, and incarceration. Most states and countries offer no legal protections in housing, employment, health care, and other areas where individuals experience discrimination based on their gender identity or expression.

things to consider

  • Be aware of your attitudes concerning people who are trans & gender nonconforming. Confronting biases and judgments are important for any human more or less professional. Unfortunately, cultural competency courses often ignore gender identity.

  • Know that transgender people have membership in various sociocultural identity groups (e.g., race, social class, religion, age, disability, etc.) and there is not one universal way to look or be transgender.

  • Don’t make assumptions about transgender people’s sexual orientation. Who you go to bed AS (gender) is different than who you go to bed WITH (sexuality).

  • Don’t make assumptions about desire for hormonal or medical treatment, or other aspects of their identity or transition plans.

  • Don’t confuse gender nonconformity with being transgender. Not all people who appear androgynous or gender nonconforming identify as transgender or desire gender affirmation treatment.

  • Advocate for transgender rights, including social and economic justice and appropriate psychological care. Familiarize yourself with the local and state or provincial laws that protect transgender people from discrimination.

  • When you become an ally of transgender people, your actions will help change the culture, making society a better, safer place for transgender people - and for all people (trans or not) who do not conform to gender expectations.


  • You can't tell if someone is transgender just by looking

  • If you don't know what pronouns to use, listen first or ask

  • Don't ask a transgender person what their "real name" is

  • Be careful about confidentiality, disclosure, and "outing"

  • Respect the terminology a transgender person uses to describe their identity

  • Understand there is no "right" or "wrong" way to transition - and that it is different for every person

  • Don't ask about a transgender person's genitals, surgical status, or sex life

  • Avoid backhanded compliments or "helpful" tips

  • If bathrooms in the meeting space are not already gender neutral, ask if it's possible to put gender neutral signs on them.

  • Adopt gender neutral terms for addressing a group. (y’all, you all, or everyone instead of guys, ladies, etc.)

  • Identify people by clothing instead of gendered language ("person in the blue shirt" instead of the "woman in the front")

  • Avoid other gendered language such as "sir" and "miss"

  • At meetings/events, set an inclusive tone.
    Ask people to introduce themselves with their name and pronouns. For example, "Hi, I'm Nick and I use he, him, his." This shows you are not making assumptions about anyone's gender & that people are free to self-identify. Start with yourself and use a serious tone that will discourage others from dismissing the activity. However, if you feel this practice will have the effect of singling out the transgender people in the room, avoid it.

info/stats adopted from:


  • Injustice at Every Turn

  • MIT's "Action Tips for Allies of Trans People"

  • The National Center for Transgender Equality

  • The National LGBTQ Task Force