How Language Can Foster Inclusivity For Transpersons

Levenfeld Pearlstein, LLC

March 31st of each year is Trans Day of Visibility. For the first time, ever, a sitting President issued a proclamation commemorating the day. At LP, our goal is to provide a consistent and unparalleled client experience. Part and parcel with that common goal necessitates meeting everyone where they are and creating an open and inclusive environment.

Transpeople, and particularly black transwomen, are more likely than other groups to be the subjects of violence, just for being open about who they are. Many transpeople report having a negative experience with attorneys, just for being an openly transperson. One way to start to create an open environment for transpersons is to start with language.

One place to start is with the term “transgender.” Transgender is used as an adjective, and not a noun. Instead of saying “she is a transgender” or “she is transgendered,” it is preferred to say, “she is a transgender woman” or “she is a transperson.” If you want to know more about the language to use, check out this handy GLAAD Media Reference Guide: GLAAD Media Reference Guide - Transgender | GLAAD.

In addition to vocabulary, many trans and non-binary persons (that is, a person who does not identify exclusively as a man or a woman) use pronouns that more closely match their identity. Some use the traditional he/him/his or she/her/hers, while other people use broader pronouns such as they/them/theirs. The use of they/them/theirs may seem to be contrary to what many of us have been taught in primary school (especially those of us with strict grammar school upbringings!), but using “they” to refer to a single individual has been part of our language for hundreds of years and mirrors the development of the singular “you” from the plural “you.” Yes, language, like people, is constantly evolving. There are many other combinations of pronouns that people use. Many people who prefer a certain pronoun will tell you, but if you want to show you are open to this, you can find ways to share your own pronouns.

Here in our Trusts and Estates Group, we have made, and are continuing to make, thoughtful changes in our approach to estate planning. We are always in the process of educating ourselves on how we can create an open environment. We are also looking at thoughtful ways to shape our documents to be sure that they contain modern provisions that mirror our clients’ lives. It’s just another way that we provide a consistent and unparalleled client experience.

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DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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