Every year, Trans Awareness Week (13 - 19 November) helps create visibility and address the very real (and shitty) issues our trans and gender diverse friends. Trans and gender diverse people are disproportionately affected by discrimination, violence, mental health issues, bullying and even homelessness. 

But you know what? Enough is enough. Genuine inclusion is all of our responsibility. So we’re here to give you a crash course on how to leave your judgements at the door (throw them in the bin really), what inclusive language should sound like and just some pretty basic courtesies that our trans and gender diverse friends actually deserve.

First up: Pronouns.

Pronouns are words that can be used to refer to a person, other than their name. When a trans person comes out they may have new pronouns they want to use. Using the correct pronouns can help to make people feel heard, understood and respected.

  • They, She and He are all common pronouns. They, Xe and Ey are a few common gender-neutral pronouns.
  • She and He are gendered pronouns. She is typically used by female-identifying people. Similarly, He is typically used by male-identifying people.
  • They, them, theirs are common gender-neutral pronouns and are typically used by gender diverse and non-binary identifying people. They don’t imply ‘male’ or ‘female’.

There are lots of other gender neutral pronouns too. They can take a bit of getting used to, but it’s important to use the right ones. If you’re not sure, politely ask the person. To hear first hand why these matter, watch this video or check out Minus18’s very helpful language guide!

Next? Gender inclusivity in the workplace  

Around 30% of transgender and gender diverse people report experiencing mistreatment in the workplace due to their gender identity. Let that sink in… What can you do to change this?

Don't make assumptions about a transgender person's sexual orientation

Gender identity is different to sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is about who we're attracted to, whereas gender identity is about our own personal sense of being a man or a woman, or neither of those binary genders. Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or straight.

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

If you're unsure which pronoun a person uses, you can politely ask, or introduce yourself using yours. If you do ask which pronoun the person uses, start with your own. For example, "Hi, I'm Taylah, and I use she/her pronouns. What about you?" Then use that person's pronoun and encourage others to do so. 

If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun, apologise (sincerely) then move on. If you continue to use the incorrect pronoun or name, that is considered misgendering and is a harmful form of bullying.

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

For some transgender people, being associated with their birth name is a tremendous source of anxiety, or it is simply a part of their life they wish to leave behind. Respect the name a transgender person is currently using. If you happen to know the name someone was given at birth but no longer uses (called a ‘dead name’), don't share it without the person's explicit permission.

Use gender-neutral and inclusive language

The words and phrases that we use every day are often gendered, unnecessarily. By using terms like “hi guys” or addressing a group with “welcome ladies and gentlemen”, we assume a lot… Consider using gender inclusive language like “hi friends”, or “welcome folks” instead (it’s honestly one of the easiest, but most inclusive things you can do!)

Be careful about confidentiality, disclosure, and "outing"

Some transgender people feel comfortable disclosing their gender history, and some do not. A transgender person's gender history is personal information and it is up to them to share it, not yours. Don’t casually share this information, speculate, or gossip about a person you know or think is transgender. It’s an invasion of their privacy, and it can have devastating consequences on their psychological and physical safety. 

Respect the terminology a transgender person uses to describe their identity

Transgender people use many different terms to describe their experiences. Respect the term (transgender, transsexual, non-binary, genderqueer etc.) a person uses to describe themselves. If a person is not sure of which identity label fits them best, give them the time to figure it out for themselves and don't tell them which term you think they should use.

Be patient with a person who is questioning or exploring their gender identity

A person who is questioning or exploring their gender identity may take some time to figure out what's true for them. They might, for example, use a name or pronoun, and then decide at a later time to change the name or pronoun again. Do your best to be respectful and use the name and pronoun requested. 

There is no "right" or "wrong" way to transition - it is different for every person. Respect it.

Some transgender people access medical care like HRT (hormone replacement therapy) and surgery and some want their authentic gender identity to be recognized without hormones or surgery. Some are excluded from the personal choice due to a lack of financial resources or access to healthcare. A transgender person's identity is not dependent on any of these factors. If someone shares with you that they are transgender – accept it, respect it and move on.

Support all-gender public restrooms

Some transgender and gender non-conforming people may not feel like they match the signs on the restroom door. Encourage your school, workplace and local shops to have single user, unisex and/or all-gender restroom options. Make it clear that transgender and gender non-conforming people are welcome to use whichever restroom they feel comfortable using.

At meetings and events, set an inclusive tone

In group settings, identify people by articles of clothing instead of using gendered language. For example, the "person in the blue shirt," instead of the "woman in the front”. Encourage people to introduce themselves with their names and pronouns. For example, "Hi, I'm Tyler and I use they/them pronouns." If you feel like this could cause the effect of singling out people in the room or put them on the spot, perhaps just encourage people to simply just use their preferred names.

Using pronouns on email signatures

Adding your preferred pronouns beside your name or alongside your contact details on an email signature is an easy way of showing the pronouns you prefer to use. But it goes deeper than that - it normalises discussions around gender. It’s also a great way to show that as an employer/workplace, you value the individuals in your workplace and can help avoid accidental misgendering.

What else? All of this.



Here at Youth Projects, we think Trans Awareness Week is more than just that. It’s an opportunity to celebrate the enormous contributions our trans and gender diverse community makes to broader society. To educate and inform people on being better allies. And above all, throwing the “You and I” conversations out the window so it becomes a genuine “us” conversation.