Have you ever been in a classroom and had your professor call you by the wrong name? This name being the one that you have come to own as your identity — the one you have grown with. How would you feel, even after you have told your professor what your name is, if they still call you by the wrong one? Probably not so great, right?
This happens daily to transgender (trans) youth and adults who identify as their chosen name rather than their birth name. This debacle makes it complicated when dealing with legal documents and healthcare; however, it should not make it difficult for people to refer to them as the name they prefer.
According to a study done in 2011 by the National Center of Transgender Equality, 82 percent of trans youth felt unsafe in their schools, while 44 percent have been physically abused. This extends to online bullying as well. According to the same study, 67 percent have reported being bullied online.
Bullying can be classified as refusing to identify trans youth and adults as their preferred name or pronouns; name-calling and blatant transphobic remarks; physical violence, such as shoving and tripping; abuse within the home or school; and sexual assault.
Transphobia extends outside of the home and school to the work place, although there are some laws that protect trans adults from being fired for transitioning from male to female or from female to male.
One that does is Executive Order 13672, an anti-discrimination law, which states that in federal employment, those who identify as LGBT are protected.
Some misconceptions that are an outright disgrace to those identifying as trans are that trans people are actually just drag queens or kings. Another misconception is that trans individuals are just men or women cross dressing. However, this is their identity and they choose to portray that in an outward manner. It is not a performance.
So before you act in a way that could be considered transphobic or an act of bullying, ask questions. Research is the first step to understanding those who identify differently as you. Asking questions allows those who have no history or experience with those identifying as trans to get an insight as to how to properly be an ally.
You don’t do a presentation on a book you’ve never read, and I’m sure we all know that Sparknotes never tells the entire story. You must do the research before you can say you fully understand.
If people are telling you that you aren’t being socially accurate, you should probably take that into consideration.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the writer and are not representative of The Slate or its staff as a whole