Tips for Trans* Allies
Tips For Trans* Allies.
This post is a list that hopefully will point allies in the right direction for being good allies, i’ve taken many ideas from the trans* folks on twitter and linked to their profiles as to amplify the voices of other trans* people and our real allies. I plan to do more voice amplifying articles in the future. This list is by no means comprehensive or intended to represent the entire trans* community only the voices shown here, individuals speaking their minds on the matter with some added commentary from myself. Points made without sources are my views alone.
1. Your experiences with one trans* person can’t be used to sum up the entire community’s (idea submitted by @richardselby)
Each trans* person is different, with different life experiences, likes, dislikes, perspectives and opinions. Just like everybody else. While common ideas might be found within the community its important to remember that not all trans* people are going to think and feel the same way about a given subject.
2. The fact that someone (or you ) “has a gay friend” or has a [insert minority] friend is completely irrelevant.
So if a trans* person calls you out for saying something or doing something thats transphobic or re enforces cissexism, don’t even try to use that as a defense, in fact all you should be doing is listening. The fact that you have a minority friend doesn’t inoculate you from having bigoted ideas or perspectives.
3. Be willing to face the same hate we do.
Often people will target allies by claiming that they must be trans* themselves or else they wouldn’t be trying to defend us. You need to be ok with that and willing to face the hate we do. This is not an easy struggle by any means and the raw reality of it is by siding with us you will face a degree of the oppression we do. Remember as hard as it might be for you, all you have to do is walk away, we can’t.
4. Listen to trans* people and don’t try to speak over us or speak for us.
Having backup from a cis ally in an argument or while facing down some kind of bigotry is great, but remember you aren’t trans* so make sure that while you are giving us backup you don’t inadvertently speak over us or speak for us. Listen to the people you are backing up and follow their lead. This might be difficult for some people but its very important you do it this way.
5. A lot of us are angry because we feel burned every day, we feel angry at the oppression we face daily and the pain we experience just for existing. (idea submitted by @ronnycary)
Understand our anger with cis-society and counter with compassion. Be a shoulder to cry on if needed, someone to listen and give empathy.
6. Don’t take trans* anger personally. (idea submitted by @samiJapan)
Its not about you, its about the cis-tem
7. Avoid terms like “like a man” or “like a woman” (idea submitted by @samiJapan)
When you do this you imply that we aren’t really the gender identity we say we are, and makes us feel like you are just humoring us to be polite. If you are just humoring us to be polite you aren’t an ally.
8. Pronouns matter.
Ask for someones pronouns when you meet them. No matter who they are. This has a dual effect, one if you ask everyone nobody is going to feel “targeted” or feel like someone outed them since you are asking everyone, and two it will make cis people wonder why you are asking such a thing and create the chance for you to discuss trans* issues with other cis people and it further challenges cisnormative ideas. This might be socially uncomfortable , but it is needed. (we did say this wouldn’t be easy)
9. Avoid the use of transphobic slurs and call out other people who say them
While some trans* folks might be fine with those words, many of us are not and many of us have been hurt by them. The fact that some people aren’t hurt isn’t relevant (see point one and two) because a lot of us *are* hurt by it. You don’t want to hurt people do you?
10. If they don’t “pass” today and people stare, that’s not their problem, it’s everyone else’s. Don’t be part of the problem. (idea submitted by @GivMeUrIndieLit)
Cisnormativity is what is oppressing us, not going against it. Some of us don’t even *want* to “pass” and are happy with who we are. Respect our identities just the same and don’t contribute to those stares.
11. Don’t gender their actions/clothes/gestures you do not write the gender final exam. (idea submitted by @GivMeUrIndieLit)
Support trans* people in their gender expressions no matter what they are. Remember challenging cisnormativity is the best path to true acceptance for trans* people, trying to force us into cisnormative roles only serves to further oppress us.
12. Reaffirm to the trans* people you know that they are more than just pieces of your diversity collection (idea submitted by @samiJapan)
Because we aren’t.
13. Call out transphobia when you see/hear it (idea submitted by @samiJapan)
See point three, you doing this is vital. It will also come at a cost. be prepared to pay it.
14. Your trans friend doesn’t want their experience to be used to silence other trans experiences (idea submitted by @GivMeUrIndieLit)
See point one.
15. Don’t force a narrative on any of us. You don’t understand. (idea submitted by @catskillmarina)
This cannot be said loud enough. We are all different.
16. Don’t out us.
Ever. Its not your place. Ever.
17. Urge businesses that have two single bathrooms, but label them men/women anyways to switch to gender neutral signage. (Idea submitted by @SnappyErika)
We are all adults here, we just want to use the restroom, single stall locking door gender neutral restrooms make sure everyone can can use it safely.
18. Don’t donate to the HRC. Don’t advocate the HRC, don’t tell us how great the HRC is.
Do some research if you want to donate to charities that do real good for trans* people. The HRC isn’t one of them.
19. Highlight that privilege is about awareness of the spectrum of experiences people have not an intellectual debate (idea submitted by @OccupyNation)
This is a good point.
20. Listen to us , respect us. and avoid the temptation to “speak” for us. (idea submitted by @aprilmcferran)
This theme keeps getting repeated, gee I wonder why.
Wish I could have added one to this list. Here’s a few I’ve gotten:
1) You’re too masculine to be a woman (or the reverse for a trans man).
2) Cis people feeling inclined to create baseless hypotheses about why you’re trans*, and/or insisting that if you get the “right kind of therapy” that we’ll be “Okay in our own skin”.
3) Cis people using hybridized pronouns because they find it confusing to call us by preferred names and pronouns. (feminizing old names or using inappropriate gender neutral pronouns, instead of correcting oneself when using an incorrect pronoun when you they forget to use the preferred one.)
4) Cis people taking the anger of a trans* person personal when they get angry about cissexist remarks they make, and claiming the “Trans person is unreasonable” when they emotionally triggered by their remarks.
5) Using contrived social, ideological, or faith-based notions as a justification for invalidating a person’s self identified gender and triggering dysphoria (and as above not understanding or being mindful of the distress you cause them).
6) Not taking the time to read basic Trans 101, terminology, or get a basic understanding of transgender mental healthcare to avoid saying doing things that will upset a trans person.
7) Cis people making assumptions that you can convince someone that they are trans* when they really aren’t, or the assertion that we a therapist with a secret agenda to make us trans*.
8) Cis people feeling they have the right to tell us how to execute our transitions if we’re to be “Real” or accepted as our gender identity, or any sort of passing/behavior guidance in like with cultural gender norms.
9) Cis people ignoring stories of lived experiences of trans* people in favor of conclusions drawn from the popular opinion of other cis people.
10) Cis people processing their discomfort with trans* people by claiming that behaviors that arise out of a need to mitigate gender dysphoria are offensive, selfish, or immature because they don’t see the point in it. (It’s a safe bet a newly out trans* person is going to take time to figure out who they are, and find their comfort zone. Expecting them to adjust their comfort level to yours is unreasonable and untenable.)
That’s my list of big ones I encountered from people who claimed to be my allies, some that many are blantantly oblivious too.