I’m sure you’ve all seen some variation of Twitch etiquette for different Twitch streamers. They typically have suggested rules that will make the viewing and chatting experience better for you and the streamer. But not everyone has met a transgender person before, or how to be an ally to them. I’m going to share some basic Twitch etiquette (feel free to skip if you’re familiar with it) plus a few things any potential trans allies should do or avoid when interacting with transgender streamers.
Going forward, I am a transgender woman and I speak for my own experiences. I don’t use trans masc or many nonbinary or agender examples because I don’t experience what they do and I don’t want to misrepresent them. Keep in mind that one trans person doesn’t represent every trans person. If you don’t know what transgender is, it’s a person who doesn’t identify as their assigned sex. For more info on that click here.
- Read their rules: Each streamer has their own set of rules of what works out for for them. I’d recommend reading each one’s rules and following them the best you can. You won’t get reprimanded if you don’t screw up. Keep in mind that the streamer owns their channel and while sometimes you don’t understand the reasoning for their rules and how they handle them you just have to trust that they know what they are doing. Trust that they know what works for their community and their channel.
- Don’t advertise your’s or a friend’s content and channel: The show isn’t about you and other people’s channels don’t exist as a marketing tool. Some streamers are ok with this but I can tell when someone doesn’t want to be my friend and just wants to use me. This goes hand in hand with shout outs, don’t ask for them and don’t donate just to put your channel link in the message
- Don’t de-lurk: If a user is lurking don’t force them or try to get them to be more active and join the conversation. Twitch nowadays is available on several platforms not all of them are capable of chat. Some people are also very socially anxious and waiting to be comfortable first. It’s like videogames some people have a specific way of playing a videogame and that’s how they enjoy it. Sometimes users think they are helping by de-lurking, you’re not you’re singling that person out and making them feel isolated. That person might leave and never come back because they can’t just watch a streamer in silence.
- Don’t backseat game: Backseat gaming is when a viewer tells the streamer how to play. It can happen in a lot of ways but typically involves explaining the mechanics and telling the streamer they’re wrong or playing wrong. People have their own playstyles and want to experience the game on their own. Me for example I love figuring out the mechanics on my own and I feel really smart once I’ve got a complete understanding. Most streamers have a rule against this one because it’s annoying and very frustrating.
- Like someone? Show it: If you like a channel be sure to let the streamer know. It lets us know we are on the right track you can also show appreciation for the stream through advertising. If a channel you like goes live maybe host their channel on yours, send out a tweet or make a facebook post about them going live. It gets your friends in there and it helps your favorite streamer for free. Promoting some LGBT+ streamers is especially helpful we don’t get the same recognition as everyone else and make sure to use their pronouns when adverting for them.
- Don’t tell a streamer what to play: Chances are they are playing what they want to or they have a schedule. They are playing the game because they like it or if they don’t like it then it’s probably a part of a schedule or theme. This goes along with don’t ask them to change games, play something else, or drill them over why they are no longer playing a specific game. I remember when I finished Portal Knights “Why aren’t your playing Portal Knights I thought you were a PK streamer?” I’m not, except for competitive games it’s rare for a streamer to stay with just one game. These questions get annoying.
- Don’t beg to play with them: Most streamers have a night they have open lobbies or have some sort of system for in place for viewers to join lobbies. Otherwise they are intentionally playing alone, in the case of solo queuing it’s more efficient for climbing ranks. If they are doing an open lobby night or playing with subs and followers you’ll know.
- Don’t complain about someone else’s success: If I have more followers or I’m partnered/affiliate I don’t want to hear people complaining about how they aren’t. You’ll find out what works for you and you’ll grow, but complaining will not help. Streaming is work as much as people would like to shut that idea down. Basically this can make me feel guilty even though I’m doing nothing wrong.
Trans Ally Etiquette
- Don’t assume everyone is male: This goes for viewers and streamers. Not everyone in your audience is going to be male, look for pronoun giveaways. For example I stream under the Girl Streamers community, my bio and info below the video say I’m a trans woman and use female pronouns. If you don’t know someone’s pronouns, just ask. The thing is, anyone you meet could be trans. There is no “looking” trans or trans behavior and we are more common than you might think.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions: This one is more of a case by case, make sure it’s ok to ask questions about being trans and trans things. I understand meeting a trans person can be a rare occurrence for some and I’m willing to help teach and clear up any confusion I can. Also, sometimes people are questioning and want to know stuff to help with their identity. Personally I’m very ok with answering questions.
- No single trans person represents the entire community: Some of us feel a tremendous amount of pressure knowing that our interactions with a cis person can dictate their future interactions with trans people. So when a trans person says something keep in mind it means in their terms, to them. If one says “It’s ok to call me a shemale” that doesn’t mean it’s okay to call all trans women shemales. We are all different and have our own thoughts and opinions.
- Trans people can be transphobic too: Just because one trans person says something transphobic it doesn’t mean you should say it. I can’t tell you how many times I hear the “Trans Friend” argument. If a trans person tells you something is transphobic trust that they know what they are talking about since they experience it. I’m guilty of some transphobia too, but the difference between me and a transphobic person is I apologize and I try harder to do better.
- Avoid trans slurs and border slurs: With our own brand of targeted hate comes our own slurs. I’m saying this only as an example of what not to say. Tranny, some people think adding ‘y’ to something makes it cute. No, this is a slur that has been in use for a long time and originally refers to transvestites or transsexuals in a very negative way. The term is made to do harm. Transgender people are not transvestites, we dress to our gender we don’t crossdress. We aren’t impersonating another gender, we are our gender. More examples of slurs are shemale, trap, futa, dickgirl, femboy; all are fetish terms with some implying that we aren’t actually the gender we say we are. Basically it’s transphobic if the term suggests we aren’t the gender we say we are or if it implies that we are deceitful and only want to trick men. There are also slurs specific to trans men, but I’m a trans woman and I don’t want to speak outside my own experience.
- Don’t talk about your kinks and fetishes: Dude I just want to play videogames. I don’t want to hear about how you like guys in dresses and girly clothes, I’m not one. I’m a woman who just happens to have not been assigned female. I exist as a person and my identity is not inherently sexually or a subject of sexuality.
- Don’t make me explain my gender and identity: I exist, I’m valid, I say I’m female therefore I am. I shouldn’t have to validate my identity to anyone and if you think something you’re asking is witty or never been asked before, you’re wrong. I’ve heard it and answered it.
- Don’t talk over me: My experiences are my own. They apply in terms to myself, if a trans person decides to open up about who they are and what they go through don’t shut them down. For example mansplaining, it’s when a man denies a woman’s experience by saying he doesn’t experience it so it must not be real. It’s patronizing and makes you look like a dick. Don’t do that. We have it hard, but that doesn’t mean we are invalidating your experiences. Some of us have to go through things no one else does just because we exist. Please show us respect, don’t make us regret opening up to you.
- Cisgender isn’t a slur: Nor is it a new word. If I say cis or cisgender it just means that you are someone who identifies as the same gender as you were assigned. Let’s say the doctor shouts “Mazeltov! It’s a boy” and you continue to identify as a man the rest of your life, you are a cisgender male. Saying cis is an insult or a slur is like saying being trans is a slur or any other gender identifier is an insult.
- For the Nonbinary and Agender peeps: “They” in singular use or referring to someone of an unidentified gender is grammatically correct. Shakespeare uses they in a singular manner and we do it all the time. Always try to use the correct pronouns with people when you can, but if you can’t then calling someone “they” is generally safe. I’ve gotten so used to use they when I don’t know that I just default to it now. For more info on what nonbinary is click here or click here for agender.
It’s important to use their pronouns if you can though, even if you consider them “unconventional” pronouns. You don’t get to say what makes other comfortable, but you can always help them feel comfortable by using the right pronouns.
- The memes, stop with the memes: Memes are ok, I love a good dat boi, and kermit is great, but don’t come in and use the helicopter meme or “Did you just assume my gender”. In my entire life I have never heard another trans person say “Did you just assume my gender”. Both memes were made to be hateful towards trans people and mock them and their “absurd” gender identities.
- It’s not always about you: If we talk about cisgender people in general and that generalization doesn’t apply to you, then I’m not talking about you.
- Don’t like what I do? Don’t watch: The rules I have set in place are in place because of experience. If I ban someone understand that I ban them because I think that person’s presence is more harmful to the stream than positive. It’s really not hard to follow the rules and not treat others like crap. If they can’t even manage that then they don’t have a place in my streams. If you don’t like how I handle things don’t tell me I’m wrong or I’m being unreasonable, leave.
- Don’t tell me you’re an ally: If you’re an ally let your actions speak for it. So many people claim to be allies then just show how little they understand. It’s no different than the “Trans Friend” argument. It’s trying to shut down my feelings by using other trans people against me. Being an ally means you’re a friend and you try to be, you want us to have rights and to grow into acceptance, but it also means being wrong sometimes and learning from it. Show me how much of an ally you are by just apologizing.
- Being trans is not politics nor is it political: We have been in the media a lot lately but remember being trans doesn’t mean we are a subject of politics. We just want to be allowed to exist and be happy. We want the same rights and basic respect as everyone else and for people to see us in a more positive way. Being treated with respect isn’t political. Me talking about trans positivity isn’t politics.
- Being trans isn’t a mental illness: Letting it be treated as a medical condition does mean we get to cover some of the costs under our healthcare. So please don’t call it a mental illness, Besides, countries such as Denmark have even come out and said it isn’t. Trust that people who go to school for 7+ years on this subject know more about it than you do. Here’s some more info on gender dysphoria and why it isn’t a mental illness.
- Share us with your friends: Some of us don’t have a support network, so more viewers is more friends. Growing for us can sometimes be hard as that requires us to be open about ourselves and a lot of us have experience with being shut down anytime we try to open up. Also, some people love to hate us, something that makes it very hard to grow. So if you like us and you want to see us succeed then share us.
- Donations are welcome: Donations are welcome with most streamers, but transitioning (if we choose to) isn’t free. It costs me 72 dollars a month for my Estrogen, and I used to have a therapist I saw twice a month for 125 dollars a visit. Some of us do name changes, therapy is required in some states, if you’re a trans woman you’ll want laser treatments for facial hair, and some need surgeries. This isn’t something we do for fun, for those with dysphoria transitioning means we don’t have to feel like we want to die all the time. Consider the donation an investment in our future happiness and you can help us cover the cost of transition. As greedy as it may sound, the most ally like thing you can do is donate to someone’s transitioning fund. When I was still identifying as my assigned gender I contributed to few funds and commissioned trans content creators. Even just a dollar or two helps.
If you’re a trans streamer and you have some suggestions to share, make sure to let me know in the comments or tweet me @queenhellcat. If you feel like I got something wrong let me know. I am not infallible but I feel like this is a pretty darn good list of things that should be kept in mind for Twitch etiquette.
It’s pretty easy to not be transphobic, just don’t argue a person’s identity and don’t undermine it. If they tell you what’s up, listen because they know their identity better than you do. Thank you for reading and watching. If you want to test out your etiquette you can on my stream just click here!
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