The term "transgender" encompasses a wide variety of gender identity and expression possibilities. Some transgender people have undergone sexual reassignment surgery, some are "transitioning" towards another sex while others choose to present themselves through dress and name in the gender opposite their birth, without actually undergoing medical procedures. Others prefer to be perceived s neither male or female.
Proper use of chosen names and pronouns is important to transgender students and it is their right. They should always be referred to by the pronouns of the gender with which they identify. When a student prefers to be perceived as neither male or female, they may wish to be referred to as "they", "ze" or "xe" instead of "he" or "she" and prefer "hir" or "xir" over "his" or "her". Other pronoun preferences are also used.
Transgender student's name choice must be respected. It is a violation of their rights to persist in addressing them by their birth name if they have clearly indicated a desire to be addressed by a different name.
The following are examples of how teacher's misunderstanding of transgender students influences their classroom behavior.
- Professors using examples which indicate that there are only two possible genders (e.g. "either men or women...")
- A faculty member insisting on calling a student in class by their birth name even thought the student has adopted a different name and gender
- A display of attitudinal and dismissive behaviors indicating a lack of sensitivity and understanding of the transgender person's rights.