When your gender expression — the way you dress, the way you wish to be addressed, the way you present yourself to the world — differs from what people expect from the typical “guy” or “girl,” a lot of social obstacles are thrown your way, says activist Yee Won Chong at TEDxRainier. This is the case for most transgender people, he says, who face discrimination in the workplace, on the street, in bathrooms, and in everyday conversation — often out of pure ignorance — from those who do not understand what it’s like to be a transgender person.
Even if you have never met someone who is transgender, you should be aware of the issues the transgender community faces everyday, says Chong. Imagine that every trip to a public bathroom is a nerve-wracking experience, as you’re not sure in which restroom you will feel safer — the men’s or the women’s. Imagine being addressed by the wrong pronouns and names constantly: “he” when you are “she,” “ma’am,” when you are “sir,” or not identifying with any of these words at all. Imagine not being able to get a government ID that reflects the gender you live every day, and the complications that would follow — at an airport, a voting booth, a job interview.
Once you start to understand what it’s like to be a transgender person, you can be a better ally to those in the community, Chong says, offering three tips for making life easier for all people.
To learn more, watch Chong’s whole talk below:
Insight from the TEDx office — why we like this talk:
The speaker gives a clear, detailed and passionate talk on his idea — how empathy for the lives of transgender people can foster better understanding of, create safer spaces for and less negative judgment of transgender lives. He bolsters his talk with stories from his own experience as a transgender man as well as statistics and facts from throughout the transgender community. He creates a clear call-to-action — by keeping in mind transgender lives, the audience can be allies to all transgender people.