Dealing with Transphobia

No one deserves to be bullied for their gender identity. It's time to be proud of who you are and conquer transphobia.

Illustration of girl in a white t-shirt standing proudly with the words written " I can only be me" written on the front

It's time to be proud of who you are

Transphobia is a term used to describe prejudice against transgender people. That might mean nasty comments and actions, either online or in person that are intentionally hurtful. Sadly, if you’re transgender, this might sound familiar. It may even be affecting your mental health or making it harder to come out. But remember – you have the right to be accepted for who you are without being bullied. Here’s how to deal with the haters.  

Why are people transphobic?

People are often scared of what they don’t understand and in response, they turn to bullying. It’s all pretty illogical but that doesn’t mean it’s any less hurtful when it happens to you. For transgender people, this bullying can be especially difficult. Whether you’re experiencing dodgy comments from your family, or you’ve been stopped from entering the toilets of the gender you identify with, it can feel like transphobia is everywhere. Forms of transphobia include:

  • Physical violence.
  • Threats, mean comments and calling names.
  • Misgendering you on purpose. This means, for example, intentionally using the male pronoun ‘he’ when speaking to a trans woman with the intent of upsetting that person. 
  • Ignoring you or excluding you. Whether it’s at school, in the workplace, or at home, if people are intentionally leaving you out because of your gender identity, this is transphobia.

Transphobia online

As they say, haters gonna hate. There will always be people who get a thrill from hurting others and these people feel most at home on the internet. The key is, to see it as their issue. But we know that doesn’t make their comments any less harmful. If you’re experiencing online, transphobic, abuse, try the following:

  • Create a positive, online environment by blocking negative people or accounts and instead, try following empowering accounts. This should fill your feeds with uplifting content.
  • Try not to react. When we read something offensive, our immediate reaction is to want to hurl abuse right back at that person. But it’s best not to engage – knowing they have upset or angered you is exactly what they want so don’t give them that satisfaction.
  • Report transphobic behaviour online. Transphobia is a hate crime and people spreading hate need to be stopped. Read Childline’s guide on how to report abuse on social media.

What if my friends and family are the transphobic ones?

It can be really hurtful if the people closest to you don’t understand you. But remember, this is your life and it’s important to live it authentically. Don’t let the attitudes of your parents or friends stop you from being who you want to be. Instead…

  • Put yourself first. If it no longer feels safe to be at home because of your family’s transphobic attitude, it’s important you seek the support you deserve. Organisations such as Galop can provide advice in this situation. In extreme cases, where you feel at immediate risk, call the police.    
  • Try educating them. For parents or friends with no knowledge of the trans community, it can feel quite overwhelming and confusing. Suggest books, documentaries and websites which you think might help them understand.  
  • Create your own support network by surrounding yourself with people who understand you. That might be people at school or work, teachers, or friends you’ve met online. These people will raise you up even if your family and friends don’t.
  • If you’re scared to come out because of transphobic attitudes, read our article on coming out as trans.
  • Boost your self-esteem. The better you feel about yourself, the less these comments will hurt.

How else can I find support?

  • If you’re under 19, organisations like Mermaids and Childline are a fantastic place to find expert support. Either call their helpline or use webchat to talk about your experience of transphobia or any other issue.
  • Join a support group in your area (and boost your social life). Trans Unite will show you where your nearest support group is.
  • Join online support networks such as The Queer Youth Network where members discuss everything LGBT+ related.
  • If you feel unsafe in a public space or someone has committed a hate crime against you, you can call the police on 101 (or 999 in an emergency).

Next Steps

  • Do you want to understand your relationship better? Love Smart helps you work it all out.
  • Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
  • Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.

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Updated on 29-Mar-2019

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