Those of you who are not transgender I get it, you’re doing your best to get your head around it. What to say? How do you say it? Is it he, she, they, it? It can get REALLY complicated, but I’ll keep it short and simple here…
Let me start by saying “transgender” is an adjective (at least for now.) If you flunked out of English in elementary school, that means it DESCRIBES something else, a noun. When they bring your dinner at a Mexican restaurant what kind of plate do they always tell you about? About the HOT plate! HOT is the adjective. It is NOT the object. What this means is that you shouldn’t refer to someone as “a transgender”. Someone may BE transgender just like they may be tall or they may be short or they may be skinny. You wouldn’t say “look at that tall.” The person next to you would say “tall what?” Granted, we know we’re talking about people. A transgender woman (someone like me) was born with a male body but surprise, I’m a girl in all the ways you CAN’T see. A transgender man is someone who was born with a female body but yes, is just “one of the guys” in more ways than might be visible. So someone can BE transgender but they are not A transgender. Now the term that is no longer used much (and more specific in situations like mine) is transsexual, and yes, it can at times be a noun, I would be referred to as a transsexual or as a transsexual woman. I’m quite happy just being referred to as a woman and leaving it right there. Look, I don’t make up the rules, common usage does – “ain’t” wasn’t a word in the dictionary until 1993, why? Common usage made it inevitable. 75 years ago if you were gay that meant you were just happy, not anymore (and I’m guessing some of you are too young to even make sense of this very sentence.)
Though I don’t use the term on this website, I could be referenced as a “transgender-Christian”. I’ve already written why I don’t like that term any more than I like “Asian-American” or other hyphenated terms used to put people into groups. So yes, I AM transgender, I’m not A transgender. I am a Christian who happens to be transgender, sorry but I can’t help that. So it would be considered equally incorrect (and yes I see it all the time) when a news site talks about “the transgenders” (as if it were a pop group from the 1960’s) It is totally possible for there to be activists who are transgender that are activists for issues having nothing to do with being transgender. And there are also activist who are NOT transgender and yet they are activists for transgender issues. I know, it gives me a headache too. Just don’t assume that everyone fighting for “transgender rights” is transgender, sometimes there is a bigger political ideology driving it all.
It is an equal faux pas to refer to someone as being “transgendered”. It is not something DONE to you. If someone is Irish you wouldn’t say they were Irished, Irish isn’t done to you, it’s what you are. You likewise wouldn’t refer to someone as “blacked”, “gayed”, “Chinesed” (you get the point.)
As to the PRONOUNS (yes, I’m sorry – more English) obviously people like myself expect to be referred to as “her” and “she”. It would frankly crush me if someone referred to me as “he” or “him”, I would take that as an insult, a total denial from that person as to who I really am, my very existence as a person (I had close friends when I first transitioned who slipped, even using my male name by accident but that’s because they needed time to adjust and I gave it to them.) If you are talking with someone who is transgender and you’re not sure about how to address them without insulting them, it’s ok to ask them what they prefer. Unfortunately for people trying to keep up with how fast it all changes, the umbrella for being “transgender” seems to keep getting bigger and bigger. Some claim the freedom to shift back and forth (from day to day if they feel like it) and expect others to keep up – even I don’t know how a normal person does that. But just FYI, it’s out there.
You may now resume your normal life, but first stop and thank the good Lord that you don’t have write stuff like this to explain stuff like this.