What is the polite way to address a transgender person?
I am serious about this question. It is not about morality or religion. I work in the public and I attempt to treat all persons with dignity. ALL. What is the most respectful form of address if you don't know the person's name?
The best way to address a transgender person as whatever he or she wants to be addressed as. However, you cannot really know what gender identity that person is going for because it is often very ambiguous. I find that the best method is to strictly go by first or last names until you discover if the person relates more strongly to a male or female identity.
When it is obvious what gender they identify with then you would call them by that gender. Personally when in doubt politely ask. Simply say something like "I'd like to be respectful would you prefer I address you as Sir or Ma'am?" Transgender people are just like everyone else. Typically as long as you are polite and respectful you won't offend them. Many would prefer you ask rather than call them by the wrong term or avoid calling them anything. When in doubt just ask!
Thank you for this good answer. Yesterday this kind person appeared to be a beautiful young woman, with masculine features, in a nice summer dress. I would assume "she" identified with being a woman. It is about being most respectful. Thank you.
It's OK to ask a transgender person how they'd like to be addressed, so "forgive me, but which pronouns do you prefer?" would be polite if you're not sure.
The polite way is to ask them how they want to be addressed. If they say something stupid like "Your Majesty", go with "Hey you."
But seriously, the best way is to ask them what they prefer.
I would, wherever possible, ask them their name before I address them in any other manner. That way, you have their name; the sweetest word to anyone!
Thank you. I work in a public library where many people go as a sanctuary from the sometimes unrelenting ignorance found without. ALA Libraries are big on protecting privacy, so asking an unknown persons name may upset that feeling of safety.
Awesome question. And commendations on wanting to get it right.
As most people have said - if you aren't sure, it's okay to politely ask rather than assume and get it wrong. Most people - trans and not - are okay with people asking something to make sure they get it right (How to pronouce their name properly etc, pronouns etc).
Something else to think on is that it's not just people who are transgender who use pronouns that might not be clear to everyone on sight - there are those who do not identify as a gender, or those who are gender-fluid/bigendered. They may use pronouns that are genderless.
If it's confusing - don't worry - I'm LGBT and some of the terms I'm still coming to grips with how and when to use them!
I'm pretty sure though that if you are respectful and ask politely that you will not offend - they will be happy you thought to ask.
Thank you! I am happy to hear from you. We have a lot of books available helping LGBT / FTG to cope and get encouragement, so now that society must accept "other" genderedness, A new market for non fiction and literature can be filled. Thanks again.
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