Transgender and gender nonconforming people may experience harassment or discrimination from people who are scared or uncomfortable with these identities.

What’s transphobia?

Transphobia is the fear, hatred, disbelief, or mistrust of people who are transgender, thought to be transgender, or whose gender expression doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles. Transphobia can prevent transgender and gender nonconforming people from living full lives free from harm.

Transphobia can take many different forms, including

  • negative attitudes and beliefs

  • aversion to and prejudice against transgender people

  • irrational fear and misunderstanding

  • disbelief or discounting preferred pronouns or gender identity

  • derogatory language and name-calling

  • bullying, abuse, and even violence

Transphobia can create both subtle and overt forms of discrimination. For example, people who are transgender (or even just thought to be transgender) may be denied jobs, housing, or health care, just because they’re transgender.

People may hold transphobic beliefs if they were taught them by other people, including parents and families who encourage negative ideas about trans people and who hold strict beliefs about traditional gender roles.

Some people are transphobic because they have misinformation or have no information at all about trans identities. They may not be aware of transgender people or trans issues or personally know anyone who is trans.

The stress of transphobia on trans people can be very harmful and can cause:

  • depression

  • fear

  • isolation

  • feelings of hopelessness

  • suicide

What’s outing?

Outing is the act of revealing someone else's transgender identity or sexual orientation without their consent or permission. Sometimes outing is intentional and sometimes it’s accidental, but by sharing information about someone's gender identity against their wishes, you risk making them feel embarrassed, upset, and vulnerable. You may also put them at risk for discrimination and violence.

If someone shares their trans identity with you, remember that this is very personal information and it's an honor that they trusted you enough to tell you. Always ask them what you're allowed to share with others, and respect their wishes.

Where can I get help if I’m dealing with transphobia?

People who experience transphobic harassment often feel alone and afraid to tell anyone what’s happening. You should never have to deal with transphobia, and you’re not alone.

You may find support from:

  • Other transgender people

  • Online communities for transgender people

  • Trans support groups at your local LGBTQ community center

  • Cisgender people who are allies to trans people

  • National organizations such as the National Center for Transgender Equality, the Human Rights Campaign, the ACLU, or GLAAD.

  • If you’re a student, try to find an adult you trust, like a teacher or a school administrator, who’s an ally.

Not everyone lives in a place that has a supportive school administration or an LGBTQ community center. In this situation, the Internet can help you find online communities and support with dealing with transphobia and discrimination.

If you’re a young person who’s experiencing transphobic harassment at school, it’s important to tell someone, even if that seems scary. Young people who experience transphobia at school sometimes stop going, which can affect your grades, friendships, and future plans. Some schools may have an anti-bullying and harassment policy, and some states have adopted a Safe Schools Law, which means that your school administrators are legally required to stop the harassment. If possible, find a teacher or adult who’s an ally to LGBTQ students and ask for their help.

If you’re experiencing transphobia and it’s causing you to feel depressed or suicidal, there’s help available:

What can I do to help stop transphobia?

No one has the right to discriminate against another person, or to hurt them emotionally or physically. There are things you can do to help stop transphobia:

  • Don’t ever use slurs against transgender people.

  • Don’t ask personal questions about a transgender person’s genitals, surgery, or sex life.

  • Avoid giving trans people compliments that are actually insults. Some examples include: “You look just like a real girl!” or “I never would have guessed you were transgender!”

  • Don’t believe stereotypes about trans people or make assumptions about them.

  • Be a vocal supporter of the transgender community, regardless of your own gender identity.

  • Let the transgender people in your life know that you’re a friend and ally.

  • Educate yourself on transgender issues.

  • Respect someone’s decisions about when and where to come out.

  • If you don’t know a person’s preferred pronouns or name, ask them.

  • Use gender neutral language, such as “they” and “them” or “folks” and “people” instead of “he/she” or “girls and boys.”

  • Respect trans people’s chosen pronouns and names and use them.

  • Remember that being transgender is just one part of a person’s life.

  • If you feel safe doing so, speak up when other people are being transphobic, like making transphobic jokes, using slurs, or bullying or harassing someone because of their gender identity.

When addressing transphobia in others:

  • Ask questions and stay calm. Often, people don’t know what language is insensitive. Avoid insulting them and instead tell them why you find their words offensive.

  • Decide if it’s safe to address the issue. Some things to consider: Will you be confronting a stranger in public? Or a friend or family member in private? Do you want to speak up now or wait until you’re alone with the person? Would it be safest for you stay quiet and walk away?

It’s okay if you mess up a person’s pronouns or name by accident sometimes, especially if their transition is new to you. If this happens, apologize and make an effort to use the correct pronoun in the future.

When it comes to language, the following things are bullying:

  • Intentionally calling them the name they no longer use

  • Intentionally using the wrong pronouns