A Guide on How to Better Educate Yourself About Trans Issues

A Guide on How to Better Educate Yourself About Trans Issues
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March 31 is Trans Day of Visibility – an annual celebration of trans pride and a time to spread awareness of the experiences of trans people all over the world.

Now, one of the best ways to learn about trans issues and experiences is to listen to stories from people within the trans community. There are loads of phenomenal people who have openly spoken about their experiences: people like Laverne Cox, Indya Moore, Hunter Schafer, NikkieTutorials, Elliot Page and iO Tillet Wright are just a few examples.

If you’d like to educate yourself further on transgender issues, here’s a list of useful resources you can refer to.

Educational websites

There are loads out there. But here is a handful to start off with.

  • The National LGBTI Health Alliance – this website has lots of information but the Knowledge Hub is a great place to start.
  • If you’re looking for advice on appropriate terms, (i.e. how to properly refer to trans people and what not to say) GLAAD has a glossary of terms available. In fact, GLAAD has loads of information in general.
  • UNSW’s The Kirby Institute has also published a paper detailing the findings from their 2018 Australian Trans and Gender Diverse Sexual Health Survey. It touches on where we need to do better in supporting the trans community.

Books that speak on the trans experience

If you want to learn about the experiences of trans or genderqueer people, pick up a book by those who have lived through these journeys themselves.

Podcasts that cover trans and queer issues:

Trans 20:20s, Studio Voltaire:

Adventures in Time and Gender:

QueerAF:

This podcast touches on Queer experiences of all varieties. Well worth a listen to hear these stories.

Trans stories in film and TV

trans issues The Oprah Conversation, Elliot Page Trans Rights
How to learn more about trans issues. Image credit: The Oprah Conversation, Elliot Page

The depiction and lack of inclusion of trans people in film and television have been widely criticised for many years. In a recent New York Times article, Erik Piepenburg spoke with a handful of transgender artists about their views on specific films and TV shows – read that here if you’d like to see what they had to say.

However, there are steps being taken in the right direction.

  • Netflix documentary Disclosure – produced by Laverne Cox – sought to examine the portrayal of transgender people on the screen.
  • Transhood is another documentary by HBO which covers the experience of trans youths navigating through their journeys.
  • Then, of course, there’s Elliot Page’s interview on The Oprah Conversation where the actor opens up about his experiences through his transition.

A few more points…

And as a general guide, please follow the advice of GLAAD in creating a safer more inclusive environment for folx.

On their website, GLAAD writes:

“You can’t tell if someone is transgender just by looking.”

“Don’t make assumptions about a transgender person’s sexual orientation.”

“If you don’t know what pronouns to use, listen first… If you must ask which pronoun the person uses, start with your own. For example, ‘Hi, I’m Alex and I use the pronouns he and him. What about you?'”

“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…”

“Be careful about confidentiality, disclosure, and “outing.”

“Respect the terminology a transgender person uses to describe their identity.”

“Don’t ask about a transgender person’s genitals, surgical status, or sex life.”

It is also worth pointing out that there are a lot of mental health resources available to trans folx if ever you or someone you love is in need of support.

Please contact Lifeline if you need immediate support on 13 11 14. QLife, Intersex Peer Support Australia and Organisation Intersex International are also available to those who may need it.

There are loads more points to remember, and much more listed on GLAAD’s website. Remember, this is just a starting point. But taking those steps towards learning more is so important if we want to become better, more supportive allies.

This article on trans issues and education has been updated since its original publish date.