Trans* Summit Solidarity

photoIn attempt to create a safer Summit space for Trans* People we will have name tags that include  gender pronouns. Please see tips for being a Trans Ally below for more explanation

There are several gender neutral bathrooms available at the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. There will  be signs in the space. Map of Seminary Here

Ground floor of Long Hall – family single-stall restroom next to men’s and women’s restrooms (on the map, this is the one closest to the Shakarian Center #11 on Map)

First Floor of McNaugher Hall – unisex restroom close to McNaugher Lounge (there are some rooms on here labeled as “World Mission Office” #13 on Map)

Chapel Level B – unisex restroom at the top of the stairs by the entrance that is closest to Long Hall (#6 on Map).

June 24, 2015 Jennnicet Gutiérrez Undocumented Transgender Woman Who Interrupted President at White House Pride Event Calls to End Deportation. Click image for more info

Some Tips for Allies of Transgender People

(from GLAAD.ORG Updated May 2015 Adapted from MIT’s “Action Tips for Allies of Trans People.”)

You can’t tell if someone is transgender just by looking. Transgender people don’t all look a certain way or come from the same background, and many may not appear “visibly trans.” It’s not possible to look around a room and “see” if there are any transgender people. (It would be like a straight person looking around the room to “see” if there are any gay people.) You should assume that there may be transgender people at any gathering.

Don’t make assumptions about a transgender person’s sexual orientation.
Gender identity is different than sexual orientation. Sexual orientation is about who we’re attracted to. Gender identity is about our own personal sense of being male or female (or someone outside that binary.) Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual or straight.

If you don’t know what pronouns to use, listen first.
If you’re unsure which pronoun a person prefers, listen first to the pronoun other people use when referring to that person. Someone who knows the person well will probably use the correct pronoun. If you must ask which pronoun the person prefers, start with your own. For example, “Hi, I’m Dani and I prefer the pronouns she and her. What about you?” Then use that person’s preferred pronoun and encourage others to do so. If you accidently use the wrong pronoun, apologize quickly and sincerely, then move on. The bigger deal you make out of the situation, the more uncomfortable it is for everyone.

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. If you happen to know the name someone was given at birth but no longer uses, don’t share it without the person’s explicit permission. Similarly, don’t share photos of someone from before their transition, unless you have their permission.

Understand the differences between “coming out” as lesbian, bisexual, or gay and “coming out” as transgender.

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

The transgender community uses many different terms to describe their experiences. Respect the term (transgender, transsexual, genderqueer, cross-dresser, etc.) a person uses to describe themselves. If a person is not sure of which identity label fits them best, give them the time to figure it out for themselves and don’t tell them which term you think they should use. You wouldn’t like your identity to be defined by others, so please allow others to define themselves.

Be patient with a person who is questioning or exploring their gender identity.
A person who is questioning or exploring their gender identity may take some time to find out what identity and/or gender expression is best for them. They might, for example, choose a new name or pronoun, and then decide at a later time to change the name or pronoun again. Do your best to be respectful and use the name and/or pronoun requested.

click image to learn more about Keisha

Understand there is no “right” or “wrong” way to transition – and that it is different for every person. Some transgender people access medical care like hormones and surgery as part of their transition. Some transgender people want their authentic gender identity to be recognized without hormones or surgery. Some transgender people cannot access medical care, hormones, and/or surgery due to lack of financial resources. A transgender identity is not dependent on medical procedures. Just accept that if someone tells you they are transgender – they are.

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

It would be inappropriate to ask a non-transgender person about the appearance or status of their genitals, and it’s equally inappropriate to ask a transgender person those quesions. 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 such matters, they will bring it up. Similarly, it wouldn’t be appropriate to ask a non-transgender person about how they have sex, so the same courtesy should be extended to transgender people.

Avoid backhanded compliments or “helpful” tips.
While you may intend to be supportive, comments like the following can be hurtful or even insulting:

“I would have never known you were transgender. You look so pretty.”

“You look just like a real woman.”

“She’s so gorgeous, I would have never guessed she was transgender.”

“He’s so hot, I’d date him even though he’s transgender.”

“You’re so brave.”

“You’d pass so much better if you wore less/more make-up, had a better wig, etc.”

“Have you considered a voice coach?”

Challenge anti-transgender remarks or jokes in public spaces – including LGB spaces.You may hear anti-transgender comments from anti-LGBT activists – but you may also hear them from LGB people. Someone may think that because they’re gay it’s ok for them to use certain words or tell jokes about transgender people. It’s important to challenge anti-transgender remarks or jokes whenever they’re said and no matter who says them.

Support gender neutral public restrooms.
Some transgender and gender non-conforming people may not feel like they match the signs on the restroom door. Encourage schools, businesses, and agencies to have single user, unisex and/or gender neutral bathroom options. Make it clear that transgender and gender non-conforming people are welcome to use whichever restroom they feel comfortable using.

Listen to transgender people.
The best way to be an ally is to listen with an open mind to transgender people themselves. Talk to transgender people in your community. Check out books, films, YouTube channels, and transgender blogs to find out more about transgender lives.

Know your own limits as an ally.
Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something. It is better to admit you don’t know something than to make assumptions or say something that may be incorrect or hurtful. Then seek out the appropriate resources that will help you learn more.

Attend the closing Ceremony and hear from local Trans Voices.

Many thanks to Michael David Battle for advice!