Resources and advice for the friends, family members, and allies of nonbinary people. This also deals with some advice for getting along with and helping other kinds of transgender people, and some issues of concern to intersex people, too.
A lot of people forget their manners when they're talking to transgender people. Some allies think they mean well, but they say rude things to trans people that they would never say to cisgender people. This is just because most people haven't brought up with a good idea of the social protocol for some situations that are new to them. A lot of hurtful media has given people wrong ideas of what to do in these situations. For example, television shows where transgender women get asked intrusive questions give people the idea that this is what to do as soon as they find out that someone is transgender.
Use proper language and pronouns
- If someone asks you to use specific language such as gendered nouns and pronouns, use it! It may be difficult for you to change the way you speak, but if you put effort in, it will show. Practice in your head and try your best to change the way you think about the other person, this will make language come more naturally.
- In an ideal world, you would always get things right, but you are bound to slip up now and again. If you accidentally misgender someone, don't make a big deal about it. Quickly apologize, correct yourself, and move on. Drawing more attention to a mistake by profusely apologizing or justifying yourself will only make the other person more uncomfortable.
- Keep in mind that the language you use in front of a person, should be the same language you use when they aren't in the room. This is not only polite, it goes a long way to keeping transgender people safe in potentially transphobic spaces.
Don't give unsolicited advice
Telling somebody what you think they should do, when they didn't ask you for your ideas, is always rude to anyone. It's common for people to do this as soon as they find out that their friend is transgender.
- Don't give unsolicited fashion advice. If someone wants your opinion on how they look, they'll ask. It's always rude to tell any person how to change their looks if they haven't asked. If you have good fashion advice for nonbinary people, and none of them have asked, you can put it in this wiki on the clothing page.
- Don't give unsolicited advice about how to pass as a certain gender presentation. As is often the case with unsolicited advice to anybody, this tends to be insulting rather than helpful.
- Don't give unsolicited advice about surgery, or about things about their body that could be hard to change. This can be very offensive because it sounds like you're passing judgement on their bodies. Nobody likes to be treated like that. The person might not even be interested in changing or hearing about those things.
Respect their privacy
- Private parts are private. If the nonbinary person isn't your patient or your lover, don't ask about their private parts, whether they've had surgery, or what gender they were assigned at birth. It's always rude to ask any person about their private parts, unless if you are their doctor or their lover. Some nonbinary people don't want everybody to know about that, or what gender they were assigned at birth.
- Learn to be content with not knowing certain intimate details about all people, such as their private parts, or their gender assigned at birth, or what part of the gender binary you think they're the most like. If you start wondering about it, don't blurt it out. Put the thought away, and focus your attention on what people are saying and doing, instead of speculating about private parts of their lives. This is very important when having to do with people who you think look androgynous, who you aren't sure how to fit into a female or male category.
- Don't violate confidences or "out" nonbinary people. It's always rude to spread information about a person that they don't want to make public. Some nonbinary people are very public and out. Others want some sensitive details to be kept private. That might include their gender assigned at birth, the name they had before they changed it, and so on. Your nonbinary friend might be out to some people, and not out to others. Let them decide how much they want to tell about themselves. Don't do it for them.
- It's not helpful to introduce your nonbinary friend to others as being nonbinary. You might be outing them. Let your friend decide whether they want to be open about that to each person.
- Don't gossip about your guess that someone you don't know well might be transgender or nonbinary.
Take up gender-inclusive things
When binary people take up things for themselves that are gender neutral or gender inclusive, this often isn't an example of cultural appropriation, but is an example of the "curb effect". Making a sidewalk curb accessible to wheelchair users makes a more usable street design for everybody else, too: people with baby carriages, shopping carts, and so on. The curb effect means any kind of change that society takes up to make life less hard on marginalized groups of people, making life easier for other people, too. Accessible design is good design. Gender inclusive things are a benefit to nonbinary people, as well as to binary transgender people, and to women of all kinds.
- Take up a gender neutral title for yourself, such as Mx. This isn't appropriating from nonbinary people something that belongs only to them, because the Mx title is for anyone who doesn't want their title to tell their gender. Everyone has the right to leave their gender undisclosed. Ask organizations if they will let you or others to be listed under a Mx title in their paperwork. Also ask if they let people go without a title entirely.
- When you introduce yourself, tell your name and pronouns. When you meet someone new, ask for their name and pronouns. This isn't appropriating from transgender people. It helps create a society that is friendly to transgender people if you make it standard etiquette to ask about someone's pronouns, rather than guessing someone's pronouns.