My tips on gender
I wanted to share some advice I've gathered over the years, whether you want to know how to be a good ally or if you’re trans or non-binary yourself. There’s also a bunch of youtube vids below with some great honest advice and experiences.
My name's Milo :)
What I’m going to be writing here is a sort of gender guide that someone struggling to define their gender can follow to help figure themselves out, or even label themselves (which isn’t a thing you need but we’ll get to that…)
My tips for being an Ally
Remember that expression, gender, sex and sexuality are all completely different things – try not to get them muddled up!
Get the right pronoun! Make that effort, especially if someone’s pronouns have recently changed – it makes a huge difference. If you get the wrong pronoun, just apologise and move on, there’s no need to make a big hairy deal about it. If you’re really not sure, then just ask! Assuming you actually know them… Asking random people in the street is a tad weird…
Don’t ask if someone’s had “the surgery”. For starters, there isn’t just one surgery trans people might be interested in. And then asking what’s going on under someone’s clothes isn’t really on either. Try not to treat that one trans or non-binary person you know as your own personal Gender Wiki – look stuff up for yourself too.
Don’t “out” someone without their permission – at best it’s rude and at worst it might be dangerous for that person.
My tips if you’re trans or non-binary
Come out in your own time – don’t let anyone rush you before you’re ready.
Don’t feel like you have to be a fountain of knowledge for every gender related issue or suddenly be a representative for the whole community – it’s your journey, no one else’s and there’s plenty of resources you can direct people to if you need to.
Remember it’s a learning curve for other people. If someone’s being unpleasant then by all means get mad (!) but be patient if people make honest mistakes about your gender too.
There might not be a time when you completely understand gender, and that' OK too. Gender is confusing and how you see your gender identity may change under different circumstances and that is completely fine!
Using a personal story, I was 100% sure I was a cis female until I was 14, when I first started doubting my gender identity. This lead to me identifying as genderfluid when I was 16 for about 4 months before understanding myself to be trans masculine.
Somewhere down the road I might feel more genderfluid or nonbinary than I do now and I think that's completely fine, for me it might not be something that is ever concrete and official.
You don't have to dress like society's understanding of gender... Using myself as another example, I identify as trans masculine but I still wear heels because I dislike the fact I’m 5 ft 4″. I know a trans woman who wears cologne and suits, doesn’t mean she’s any less of a woman. What you wear doesn’t define your gender. Sometimes this is called gender performance – it’s different to gender identity.
About changing your name
If you want to get your name changed there’s a few options;
Friends and family
Get your friends/family to call you by your new name!
OK, so a lot of the time coming out like this is a lot harder than just saying “Hey, I want to be called this name and pronouns, just saying” but this is just a guide! Some of you might be able to actually do this and have everyone agree to and, in that case, keep hold of those people. They’re great.
Like coming out, there’s loads of way you could do this. Some people have made songs or written down what they want say in advance. Sometimes picking just one person you really trust to go to first helps.
School and college
If you are okay with family seeing this new name, ask your school/college to change your preferred name if you don’t want to get a deedpoll yet.
This ought to be as easy as going to your student services and saying “Hi, I would like to change my preferred name on the register to this and can you let all my teachers know about this change.” They aren’t allowed to refuse you as you aren’t actually changing your name, just your preferred one.
If you get hassle with this you can point out you’re protected from discrimination such as this under the 2010 Equalities Act which clearly highlights gender re-assignment as a protected category. It also specifically mentions social transition (i.e. changing your name), so you don’t have to be even considering hormones or physical transition to be protected – the school needs to change your preferred name if request it or they’re discriminating against you.
Also you can point out the current Ofsted framework looks for inclusivity of protected categories, such as treatment and inclusiveness of trans pupils.
You can find useful docs about this on the Mermaids website. Here’s a couple of excerpts that might be handy…
“The equality Act protection from discrimination because of gender reassignment in schools… means that it is unlawful for schools to treat pupils less favourably because of their gender reassignments, and that schools will have to factor in gender reassignment when considering their obligations.
Gender reassignment is defined in the Equality Act as… anyone who is undergoing, has undergone, or is proposing to undergo, a process (or part of a process) of reassigning their sex by changing physiological or other attributes. This means… a pupil will not necessarily have to be undertaking a medical procedure to change their sex.
Pupils who are undergoing a social transition, for example, going by a preferred name or pronoun are protected by the Equality Act.”
Getting a deed poll
If you want to permanently change your name and title, you can get a deed poll done. You can pay for the government to do this for you (normally costing about £40 for multiple copies and an online saved copy) or you can do it yourself. There are many sites that allow you to do this, but I’d suggest not trusting any that doesn’t include “.gov” at the end of the URL as some places (like banks) may not recognise this as an official deed poll (and a lot of sites charge you unnecessarily for the service…)
Most people, myself included, printed this deed poll on parchment paper to make it seem more professional but honestly, it doesn’t matter much.
To make your own deed poll, you simply use the wording below (this is for 16+ people, anyone below this age will need a parent/guardian to do this for them unless they’re in special circumstances such as emancipation):
“I [old name] of [your address] have given up my name [old name] and have adopted for all purposes the name [new name].
“Signed as a deed on [date] as [old name] and [new name] in the presence of [witness 1 name] of [witness 1 address], and [witness 2 name] of [witness 2 address].
“[your new signature], [your old signature]
“[witness 1 signature], [witness 2 signature]”
This is from www.gov.uk/change-name-deed-poll/make-an-adult-deed-poll - so it’s official and not a con! Once you’ve done this deedpoll, you can basically use it everywhere. Very few places don’t accept this deed poll, but the places like banks, schools and the DVLA do accept this so yay I guess.
Anyway, that’s it for now! Thanks for reading!