Transphobia: A Conversation


Lily Doty

Transphobia. It’s a very big topic nowadays, and it can be shown in many different ways. Some examples of transphobia could be intentionally calling someone by their dead name, calling someone by their old pronouns, or degrading someone because of their gender or their transition. These things are really harmful to the people facing transphobia, and it could be harmful to the people around you who aren’t transgender or nonbinary.
When someone is projecting transphobia, that person may be hurting more people than you think. If someone has a loved one who is planning on coming out to them as transgender, or discussing sensitive matters, their actions matter. If they constantly disrespect people who are transgender, that could make their loved ones feel like they can’t trust them and can’t come out to them. Even joking about transgender people in a derogatory way can be hurtful to their friends and family. While people may not be transphobic towards their friends who are openly transgender, even projecting transphobia towards celebrities or authority figures can make their friends and family feel unsafe.
Everyone might not be projecting transphobia intentionally, but even saying things like, “He’s a she now?” or “Samuel is Samantha now” can be harmful, too. Saying something like “He’s a she now” takes away from the fact that the person who has transitioned is who they are now, not who they were before. There is no reason to bring up someone’s life that they do not identify with. It can remind the person of a life when they felt uncomfortable, marginalized, or even unsafe and threatened, and they weren’t able to be who they truly are.
Difficult scenarios can be avoided in the nicest and simplest way: get to know them. Call them by their correct pronouns. The same thing goes for saying someone’s dead name in order to classify them to other people. It takes away from the effect of the new name and anchors the person to their deadname, which is the opposite of what people normally want. Transphobia goes away once people get to know more of the transgender or nonbinary community. When people are able to understand those transgender or nonbinary people and the struggles they go through, there will be less fear and hatred towards them.
It is okay to make mistakes. People will forgive a mistake. When people have transgender or nonbinary friends, misgendering and misnaming within the first few weeks is common, and it is okay to make these mistakes once or twice, as long as you try to become better about it. But many will never know when that line is being crossed if people don’t communicate. When people start trying to understand and become better about these things, different communities will be able to come together and become one.