A roommate can become a support system, which is crucial for everyone, especially if you have a gay or transgender roommate. Want to know how to make your roommate feel comfortable? Let’s find out!
Here’s What to Keep in Mind
Understanding the needs and expectations of your roommates can help you build good co-living situations. But when you’re rooming with a member of the LGBTQ+ community, being a good Ally is just as important as being a good roommate.
Whether you’re sharing an apartment with your roommate, or living in a college dorm, it is a personal space. Hence, it is crucial that you both feel comfortable and at home. Being a good ally and a supportive roommate is, thus, crucial to ensure that your roommate feels at ease.
While Allies usually mean well, lack of knowledge or familiarity with the LGBTQ+ community can inevitably make for some awkward situations. When you want to ensure that you’re a Queer-friendly roommate, keeping a few terms and concepts in mind can help you understand them better.
Understanding the Difference Between Gender, Trans and Non-binary
Language is a powerful tool, but sometimes, we can unknowingly hurt people with the words we use. Language within the LGBTQ+ community can be diverse, and when you want to be a LGTBQ+ friendly roommate, understanding different terms can help you make your transgender, non-binary, lesbian or gay roommate feel at ease.
What is Gender?
Gender is an internal sense of self which can be expressed in several ways, commonly through clothing, pronouns and behavior. Often, gender is linked to stereotypical ideas of femininity and masculinity. Gender is what you feel you are, whether it is male, female, or having no strong feelings towards any gender.
Some people identify with the same gender they were assigned at birth. This is known as being cisgender. Some people feel that they are a different gender than what they were assigned at birth. They may identify as transgender or non-binary.
What is Trans?
Trans or transgender is an inclusive umbrella term. With this term people can either refer to a transman, transwoman, people who cross-dress or even non-binary people. Broadly, it is used to refer to anyone who does not identify as cisgender.
What is Non-binary?
Those who feel that their sense of gender cannot be defined by the traditional gender binary use the term non-binary. For them, their understanding of their gender can go beyond a sense of feeling like a man or a woman. While some non-binary people may feel comfortable in trans communities, as it is a way of meeting non-cisgender people, it is not true for everyone.
Keep in mind that this is not all there is to learn about gender and gender-expression, but it is a good place to start. Interacting with more people of the community and keeping an open mind can help you learn more about the different ways in which people identify themselves.
How to Be a Good Ally: What You Should Know
While you may consider yourself to be queer or LGBTQ+ friendly, expressing it is important. You should not only be supportive of your gay roommate, but make them feel comfortable as well. Every person is unique; hence, it is important not to generalize one person’s experience to the entire community.
Just as you would assume that every straight person does not behave the same way, it is important to remember that every transgender person may not be the same.
So, how can you become a better ally to make your transgender roommate feel comfortable?
Don’t Assume Their Sexual Orientation
Often, people confuse gender identity and sexual orientation. Gender identity is the expression and sense of self, but sexual orientation refers to who people are attracted to. Transgender people can identify as straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual.
Use Correct Pronouns
When referring to your roommate, ensure that you use the right pronouns. If you aren’t sure which pronouns to use, you can either listen to what pronouns others use for them, or ask them yourself. A good example of asking for pronouns would be, “Hi, my name is __, I use he/she and her/him. What about you?” If you accidentally use the wrong pronouns, ensure that you apologize, but move on from the situation and not make it a big deal.
Don’t Ask Them for Their Birth Name or Real Name
If someone introduced themselves to you, you wouldn’t ask them if it was their “real name”, and it shouldn’t be different for transgender people as well. Some transgender people continue to use their birth name, while others feel that it is a part of their life they want to leave behind. If you happen to know someone’s name before they transitioned, do not share it without their permission.
Everyone is trying to figure out their place in the world, and whether they are a member of the LGBTQ+ community or not. While we may not understand other people’s experiences, it is essential to be patient with them, no matter who they are. Ensure that you listen to your roommate, understand their needs and provide them with a listening ear. This tip is useful even if you aren’t living with a gay roommate.
Can’t find a Transgender Roommate?
A common problem that many LGTBQ+ people face is the inability to find queer or gay roommates. No matter how many roommates wanted ads they may apply to, their options are quite limited. As a queer person, finding a new roommate can be a scary experience. After all, how can you be sure they will be accepting of your identity and needs? At Roomi, we understand your hesitation. Hence, we’ve tried our best to be as inclusive as possible.
D’you know what else Roomi does outside of helping its readers co-live better with a transgender roommate? With our ever-increasing lists of rooms and roommates across the world, we help you find your perfect match! Download the app here and hop on the easiest ride home, ever!