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Jessica Ensley - Columnist

Trans people are still people, so treat them as such

This week Jessica Ensley discusses Trans identities and pronouns. 

A few weeks ago, I was standing in line at Domino’s on Mill Street when I overheard a couple of men in front of me refer to a woman they met that night as a “tra--y.” They were discussing how a woman was interested in one of them, but when he found out she was transgender, he was no longer interested. By the way he was referring to her, it seemed clear he wasn’t interested because he was transmisogynistic. It is never OK to mock someone for being trans and refer to them using derogatory words.

I wanted strongly to say something to them, to correct them in saying that the word “tra--y” is incredibly offensive. However, these men were drunk and I feared if I said something, I would anger them to the point of aggression. All too often situations like these arise when those who want to speak out against transmisogyny are silenced out of fear of physical or mental harm.

CeCe McDonald was just on campus a few weeks ago to talk about her experiences as a trans woman of color. She was arrested in June 2011 for defending herself against a transphobic racist and sent to prison for manslaughter. Had she been white or cisgender (a term used for those who identify as the gender they were given at birth), she probably would have served no time for defending herself. Then again, if she weren’t trans or black, she probably wouldn’t have had to defend herself in the first place.

So far this year, six trans women have been victims of homicide in the U.S., according to the Huffington Post. Within the LGBTQ community, trans women and people of color experience a disproportionate rate of attacks. Fifty-three percent of homicides within the LGBTQ community are transgender people of color. In regard to race, 73 percent of homicides within the community are people of color.

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Because we live in a society that disregards those who are marginalized, we do not see the atrocities that are happening to them. By making a trans woman the butt of their jokes, those men I stood behind were letting everyone around them know that they don’t think trans people matter.

Let’s get something clear: Trans women are women. They are not men and they are not “tra--ies.” They are not gay men or gross or not a “real” woman. The only person who gets to decide someone’s gender is the individual.

Even within feminist communities on campus, I have heard people mispronounce people, and it needs to be called out. If someone asks to be referred to as a certain pronoun, such as she, he, they, zie or it, then everyone should respect their personal decision. It is important that we call people by their preferred names and pronouns, even when they are out of the room. We need to educate ourselves. Some trans people might feel comfortable educating others, but it is not their responsibility to do so. Know that transmisogyny and phobia are acts of violence and aggression and that they are unacceptable.

Whether someone is cis, trans, intersex, nonbinary, dyadic, straight or queer, it is only up to that person and no one else. Trans identities are valid identities and no one should be saying otherwise.

Jessica Ensley is a senior studying journalism and an active member of F--kRapeCulture. Email her at

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