- Never assume someone’s pronouns: Use neutral terms until you are told, or are able to ask for, someone’s pronouns. This applies to everyone — not just people you suspect are transgender or whose gender you are unsure of based on voice or appearance. You should be unsure of everyone’s pronouns until you know what to use, because not everyone can present as they’d like, or feels it necessary to present in a particular way for their pronoun.
- Avoid gendered language when talking to individuals: You might think slang like calling everyone “dude” or “girl” is playful and inoffensive, but many people feel uncomfortable with that language because it labels them with a gender they are not, or because it’s overly familiar. In addition, calling someone you perceive to be a woman pet names like “sweetie” can be very condescending. Calling a stranger “boy” has racist connotations if they are a person of color. This varies by region, but unless you know someone and how they would like to be referred to, don’t say it.
- Particularly avoid addressing strangers by “sir” or “miss: Saying “sir” or “miss” to be polite can easily misgender someone; “excuse me”, plus their name if you know it, can serve the same purpose in most situations. If you are going to be talking to that person longer, ask their pronoun.
- Use gender neutral language when talking to groups: Saying “ladies and gentlemen” is a start, but not everyone is a lady or a gentleman. Saying “everyone”, or referring to the audience by their roles (student, employee, parent, etc.) can substitute.
- If you do misgender someone, be graceful about it: Apologize briefly, use the correct pronoun, and continue. Don’t be long-winded, because that can draw attention to the mistake and rub it in. Don’t find excuses or argue.
- Allow people to use the bathroom they are comfortable with: You cannot tell somebody’s gender just by looking at them, and even if they identify as a particular gender, they may feel uneasy using that gender’s bathroom.
- Also have a gender neutral bathroomavailable for everyone’s use: Neutral bathrooms take the stress out of wondering if you are going to be harassed for taking care of a basic bodily function. But in order to be truly neutral, these bathrooms shouldn’t be segregated as “the transgender bathroom”. They should be freely available to anyone who needs them.
- Don’t allow sexist, transphobic, or homophobic jokes and comments: People may not mean these comments to be offensive, but they still hurt and make people feel like outsiders. Keep the space respectful of all genders and ways of presenting.
- Educate all people in the space on safe space rules: If you designate your space as safe, and then a guard starts telling someone they are in the wrong bathroom, or people are making rude comments about what they presume is in someone’s pants, your space is not safe for trans* people.
Does anyone have other rules, or comments to add?