Misconceptions Every Transgender Ally Should Know

Understanding the difference between gay, lesbian, and transgender lives and experiences is crucial for being a positive ally and member of the community. In regards to trans men and women, there some common misconceptions about their everyday lives:

Getting a job as a transgender person is the same as getting a job as a gay person.
Just about all transgender people are outed during the vetting process. This might be because the person does not “pass” in some way or their background check might reveal their previous name. A Google search might do it. If you’re transgender, chances are you will eventually be outed during the process and it will most likely have a negative effect on your chances of getting an interview, much less hired.

It’s just like LGB dating.
No, it’s a unique experience. Violence is often a result of a trans person telling their story. Even when there isn’t violence, the experience can be humiliating. Also, transgender women often do not fit within the traditional ideas of beauty.  Many times men who find them attractive are acting on a fetish rather than an interest in them as individuals. Trans women who are attracted to women often have a more difficult time finding romantic partners than those attracted to men.

Geography is meaningless.
Depending on where you live, you can go from being a person protected on many levels, with full recognition and access to transgender specific health care, to a person who has human rights in name only. In some areas, you might as well be a member of an untouchable caste. Just because some people in your area seem to be doing okay, doesn’t mean that’s even near reality in other areas.

Career field doesn’t matter.
Not everyone is fortunate enough to have a career that is LGB friendly. Many have to keep their lives a secret, often when they know others are talking behind their back–like they’re an ‘elephant in the room’.

People know the difference between transgender and drag. The difference between the two is quite obvious to people who have been around either or both communities at all.  The fact that only about 9 percent of Americans know someone who is transgender means this difference escapes most people.

Race doesn’t matter when it comes to these issues.
Complete myth. Most LGBT people murdered in hate crimes are transgender women. Of that group, a vast majority are persons of color. It is important to include trans women of color when you’re having a discussion about the transgender community.

“No, stop. You’re hurting me,” means “Keep doing what you’re doing.”
When a non-trans person is behaving in a way that transgender women find offensive or painful, there’s this idea that they’re just “doing their thing” and that people should be quiet about it.  These actions are damaging.  Regardless of your intentions, your behavior needs to be modified.

“Transgender” has clear definitions.
There is a fair amount of debate over who fits under this umbrella term. Only some accept it.

One voice can speak for all.
This is untrue. Whether or not we are transgender, we all speak from our own truth and life experiences.

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