Guide: How to say “Transgender” in American Sign Language (ASL)

Learning to communicate respectfully and inclusively is essential in today’s diverse world. American Sign Language (ASL) plays a crucial role in connecting with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing community, including those who identify as transgender. Understanding how to sign “transgender” in ASL can help foster understanding and support. In this guide, we’ll cover both formal and informal ways to express the term, along with some tips and examples.

Formal Way to Say “Transgender” in ASL

Here is the formal way to sign “transgender” in ASL:

1. Sign for “TRANS”:

Make a flat handshape with your dominant hand, palm facing toward your body. Place it in front of your chest and move it outward, away from your body, in a smooth arc.

2. Sign for “GENDER”:

Hold your non-dominant hand out in front of you, palm up. Place the tip of your dominant index finger on the palm of your non-dominant hand and make a small rotating motion as if representing the concept of gender.

3. Put the signs together:

First, sign “TRANS” and then transition smoothly to signing “GENDER” immediately after.

Remember, when signing “transgender” in a formal context, ensure your movements are deliberate, clear, and properly articulated.

Informal Ways to Say “Transgender” in ASL

In informal settings, there are variations and shorthand ways to sign “transgender” in ASL. These signs are used more frequently in everyday conversations:

1. Fingerspelling “T-R-A-N-S”:

If you’re in a casual conversation, you can fingerspell the term “T-R-A-N-S” using the ASL manual alphabet. It’s a quick and commonly used way to communicate the concept of being transgender.

2. Use the sign “CHANGE”:

Another alternative is using the sign for “CHANGE.” Make a flattened “C” handshape with your dominant hand. Starting with your hand near your chest, move it forward while changing the orientation to a flattened “K” handshape as you extend.

While these informal signs may be quicker to use, it’s important to remember the formal sign for “transgender” for situations where clarity and respect are paramount.

Tips and Examples

When communicating and signing about transgender individuals, there are a few essential tips to keep in mind:

  • Respect and Sensitivity: Approach the topic with respect and an open mind. Recognize that everyone’s identity and experiences are unique.
  • Active Listening: Take the time to actively listen to the person you are signing with and try to understand their perspective.
  • Non-Verbal Cues: Pay attention to facial expressions, body language, and other non-verbal cues to better understand the person’s emotions and intentions during the conversation.
  • Check-In: If you are unsure about someone’s preferred pronouns or how they identify, it’s okay to politely ask for clarification.
  • Be Inclusive: Use your signing skills to create an inclusive environment. Encourage others to learn and respect sign language, improving overall communication.

Here are a few examples of how you can use the signs for “transgender” in conversations:

Example 1:
Signer A: “Have you met Alex?”
Signer B: “Yes, Alex is TRANS GENDER.”
Signer A: “That’s wonderful! I’d love to meet them.”

Example 2:
Signer A: “I’m learning about LGBTQ+ identities.”
Signer B: “That’s great! Did you know that the sign for TRANS is a flat hand that moves away from the chest?”
Signer A: “No, I didn’t! Thanks for sharing.”

Remember, language and signs evolve, so be open to learning and adapting as you develop your ASL skills.

By using the formal and informal signs for “transgender” in ASL, you can contribute to a more inclusive and accepting society. Remember to approach discussions about gender identity with compassion, respect, and a willingness to learn.

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