I am a mentor on an FRC team and one of my students just informed us that she is a transgender female. What can we as mentors do to support her and help her share this information with the team as a whole? Are there any resources available? Thank you!
Hello! FIRSTly, we’re so glad that you’re being accepting and showing support by asking questions! We have some resources for trans women and parents/support on our resources tab of our blog [x].
Remember that she is the same person as she was before coming out. Any interests she had before she will likely have now. So if she loved mechanical work before, she’s still as competent now. Just remember to use the right pronouns and name while treating her with respect. You can also ask her if there is anything she would like to feel more comfortable on the team.
Don’t beat yourself up over using her old name or pronouns; just apologize and move on. Everyone makes mistakes and the longer you dwell on it, the more uncomfortable she’ll feel.
One thing many people do is ask questions, but make sure to be respectful. Don’t ask about anything you wouldn’t ask a cisgender person (AKA don’t ask about her private parts). Some questions that are appropriate would be “What are your pronouns?”, “What name do you go by?”, and “Are you out?”. The last question is important because you do not want to share information about her gender with anyone unless she gives permission.
If she has come out to the team, support is as simple as reminding people to use the right name and pronouns. Try to use gender inclusive language such as “hello, team” instead of “hello, boys and girls.” If your team has separate uniforms for masculine and feminine people, ask her which one she would prefer. If you are staying at a hotel for a competition, allow her to room with girls if she is comfortable.
If anyone on the team is having problems accepting her, speak with them. Everyone deserves to feel safe on the team.
Lastly, treat her like you would treat any other girl on the team. If you usually compliment girl’s makeup skills or shoes, do that with her. If you see something online that you think she would like, tell her. Simply being there for her is the end goal. Tell her that if she has any problems, she can talk to you, even if it doesn’t involve the team. Make her feel validated and important.
If you have any other questions, just send us another ask and we’d be happy to answer.
About LGBTQ+ of FIRST
LGBTQ+ of FIRST is an organization dedicated to raising awareness and acceptance of LGBTQ+ participants in FIRST Robotics. LGBTQ+ of FIRST was started to spread visibility of the LGBTQ+ community within FIRST and help teams become safe spaces for their members.