Maybe you are new to the whole idea of trans people. Or you know someone but you aren’t sure what “the rules” are. With my limited knowledge and perspective I will try to help. These are not the be all and end all of rules or answers about being trans. I’m not trans so I spend more time asking than knowing. But here it goes.

What is transgender?

A person who is transgender identifies with a different gender than the one they were biologically identified as at birth. So I was born a biological female. If I felt like a boy I could be trans. But it’s more complex than that and it isn’t just “a feeling.” It’s called gender dysphoria and it can cause people to commit suicide if untreated.

What is the bathroom thing about?

It’s about discrimination and fear. Trans women want to pee in the bathroom that fits their gender. They don’t want to hurt you or scandalize your kids. Just go in a stall, do their business, wash their hands, and go. That’s really all they want.

Does everyone who’s transgender have surgery?

No. First, there are many types of surgeries a trans person might undergo and it’s beyond the scope of this blog to explore them but no, there is no single treatment for being trans. Some people just change their outward appearance. Some people are happy just knowing they are female or male and make few changes. The most common treatment is hormones, or HRT (hormone replacement therapy.) Taking gender specific hormones can do everything from changing your body to making you feel emotionally much better. Depending on the age you start it may keep you from developing male or female characteristics at all. For older people it can reduce but not reverse those characteristics.

What about pronouns?

For many transgender people using the correct pronouns, he or she, is very important. It affirms that you support them. But if you mess up don’t flog yourself. Apologize and move on. Intent is more important than getting it right every time. Some people take new names also. This can be hard if you’ve known someone for many years by another name. Admit that you are having trouble remembering and that you are doing your best.

Does Being Married to a Women Mean You Are Now a Lesbian? 

No. I’m still straight. But I love my spouse and have for almost twenty years. You don’t fall out of love because the package changes. If so that’s pretty shallow. However the process for partners and spouses is fluid. Trying to determine our own identity is hard. I identify as queer now but I am not entirely sure what that means to other people. To me it means my life doesn’t fit into the traditional heterosexual mold.