D. Smith is a Grammy Award-winning producer, model and singer. She’s also a woman who is transgender. Ever since she was young, D. Smith knew that she was a woman, even if her birth certificate said male. Chris Gould is dating Mimi, but Chris identifies as a male so they are not in a lesbian relationship. Though Chris doesn’t use the word transgender to describe himself, he dresses and feels masculine and, in his words, identifies “as a man in a female vessel.” We are proud that D.Smith and Chris have joined the Love & Hip Hop Atlanta cast, and that their participation is creating a dialogue about gender identity. In an effort to continue that conversation, we’d like to provide a list of definitions and resources for anyone in need of help — defining what transgender means, supporting others in the community, and educating yourself and those around you.
Transgender is a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate. For transgender people, the sex they were assigned at birth and their own internal sense of being a man or a woman do not match.
A transgender woman was assigned male at birth but identifies and lives as a woman. A transgender man was assigned female at birth but identifies and lives as a man. And some transgender people identify as non-binary, meaning their identities don’t neatly fit into either “man” or “woman.”
Transgender people, especially transgender women of color, face staggering levels of discrimination, poverty, and violence. The latest research reports that 90% of transgender people report experiencing harassment or discrimination on the job.
Have questions about what it means to be transgender? GLAAD has a FAQ with answers.
If you or someone you know is transgender, check out these resources:
GLAAD: Gender Proud
IF YOUR FRIEND OR FAMILY MEMBER IS TRANSGENDER: Straight for Equality
5 ways you can take action and support transgender people:
1. Learn more and educate yourself
Learn more about transgender people by checking out GLAAD’s information about the transgender community. Follow LGBT news from outlets like The Advocate and listen to transgender people tell their own stories by following well-known transgender leaders on Twitter like actress Laverne Cox, author Janet Mock, VH1 star Carmen Carrera, transgender man and public speaker Tiq Milan, transgender teen Jazz Jennings, and models Geena Rocero and Isis King.
2. Use a person’s preferred pronouns:
Use a person’s preferred pronouns (he/him, she/her, them/they) when referring to or speaking with a transgender person. If you aren’t sure what pronouns to use, it’s alright to politely ask. Do not ask for a transgender person’s “real name.” Instead, respect the name a transgender person is currently using.
3. Respect privacy:
You wouldn’t ask a non-transgender person about their genitals or how they have sex and it’s equally inappropriate to ask a transgender person those questions. Don’t ask if a transgender person has had “the surgery” or if they are “pre-op” or “post-op.” If a transgender person wants to talk to you about those personal matters, they will bring it up.
4. Talk to a Transgender Person the way you talk to a non-transgender person.
Speak to transgender people like you would non-transgender people. Think twice before comments that you wouldn’t say to non trans-people such as:
-“You look so pretty, I would have never known you weren’t a real woman.”
-“He’s so hot. I’d date him even though he’s transgender.”
-“Wow! You look like a real woman!”
-“What was it like being born a boy?”
Remember that a transgender woman is a “real woman” and you should treat her like you would any other woman.
5. Speak out against hate crimes:
Transgender people, especially transgender women of color, are often victims of violence just because they are transgender. Learn more about the transgender women who were murdered last year in hate crimes and stand up with the community on November 20, the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance.
You can hear from survivors of hate violence in this video.
For even more tips on how to be a friend to trans people, check out these lists from GLAAD and the Look Different campaign.