Q&A - an excerpt from Stonewall Org in the UK
How do you know you’re trans?
Many people know they’re trans from a young age. Some trans people might not have the language or understanding of what it means to be trans until later in life. But it is always something innate and absolutely core to your sense of self. It’s not something that’s a fad, a 'lifestyle choice' or something that comes and goes.
It is an essential part of who you are that can’t be changed. If you aren’t recognized as being the gender you know you are, it’s extremely damaging.
What process do you have to go through to be recognized as trans in daily life?
For most things, nothing formal or legal. If you’re a trans man or woman, your gender is protected under Bill C-!6. You can use the bathroom that fits your gender, expect your employers and schools to recognize your gender, and access any public service that’s appropriate for your gender (with a few exceptions).
That’s what’s so frustrating about some of the current media debate – most of the things people are discussing now are already established and protected by law. Non-binary people though, aren’t currently recognized by the law at all, which is deeply wrong and needs to be changed.
One thing that causes a lot of difficulty and pain for some trans people is getting the gender on their birth certificate changed.
Do you need to have gender reassignment surgery (a 'sex change operation') to be trans?
A lot of media coverage is obsessed with details of body parts and surgical procedures. For some trans people, having gender reassignment surgery is an important part of their transition. Getting access to that surgery is extremely difficult at the moment, and more investment is desperately needed so that trans people can get the procedures they need.
But for other trans people surgery isn’t something they want. Being trans isn’t about having (or not having) particular body parts. It’s something that’s absolutely core to a trans person’s identity and doesn’t alter - whatever outward appearances might be.
And frankly, it’s no one else’s business: you wouldn’t dream of asking someone else what they’ve got going on under their clothes, so why would anyone think it’s appropriate to ask a trans person?!
What does ‘cis’ mean?
Cis is short for ‘cisgender’ which means somebody whose gender identity matches the sex they were given at birth. When we are talking about gender identity, it's important to disempower the class which is not marginalized. It is important to acknowledge it is not alright to make a classification comparison between between 'transgender and normal'. An appropriate reference is necessary, therefore 'cisgender' refers to those whose gender identity coincides with the gender they were assigned at birth. Transgender is an umbrella term to reference a person whose gender identity differs from the sex they were assigned at birth.
What does non-binary mean, and what’s the right way to talk about it?
Non-binary is a term for people who don’t solely identify as either male or female, or may identify as both. Because the binary terms don’t fit, using pronouns such as ‘he’ or ‘she’ might not be right, so when you talk to someone who’s non-binary simply find a good moment and ask them how they would prefer to be addressed. It might be ‘they’, it might be something different.
It may take a bit of getting used to, but it causes you no harm and it will make that person feel acknowledged and valid. It’s not that long ago that some people struggled with accepting that some women wanted to be called Ms instead of Miss, but people got used to the common courtesy of simply asking people how they wanted to be addressed. This is no different.
The above Q&A info is Quoted from a UK site with Canadian relevance. For more information please visit Stonewall Org UK.