Trans issues are much more prevalent in the media than they were even a few years ago; and many more cis people are now describing themselves as trans allies. Shockingly however transphobia hasn’t been solved. As a non-binary person I’ve often had to deal with transphobia and cis-splaining (when a cis person tries to educate trans people about trans things) from people who publicly identify as a trans ally. So I thought I’d write a handy guide to being a trans ally:
- Educate yourself, talk to trans people and research things online. Most importantly, listen to what you’re told.
- Don’t ask about trans peoples genitals. Really shouldn’t have to say this, but apparently it’s still hard for some people to wrap their heads around?!!
- Listen to trans people.
- Offer what support you can to those who are struggling, but be aware of your own limitations.
- Continue to listen to trans people.
- Educate and stand up to other cis people when they are ignorant or transphobic.
- Seriously, fucking listen to trans people! I don’t care how well educated or experienced you are when it comes to trans issues. You should always be open to listen to, and prepared to learn from, the lived experiences of trans people.
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but do be careful how you phrase them. I’m genderfluid and AMAB, but often present as masculine because it’s easier on that day, in response to this I have often been told I must be “not feeling that trans today”. Instead of criticising how trans people choose to act or speak, explain that this is not something you’ve come across and ask if they could help you understand. If they say no, respect that. Most trans people I know don’t love being treated as an unpaid 24/7 helpline.
- Recognise when you fuck up, apologise meaningfully and don’t make it about you e.g. “I’m SO SORRY I misgendered you, this is just awful I would never normally do this, I’m the worst, I’M JUST SO SORRY”.(this definitely happens and it’s weird and uncomfortable).
- Be aware of the difference in your position. It can be easy for cis people to see trans issues as a debate topic. To call for calm and civility. To treat it dispassionately and play devils advocate. As a trans person, this is my fucking life. To me debates around trans issues are not intellectual pursuits or opportunities to show how clever or well read you are. They are emotional. Discussions about the validity of trans identities are discussions about whether me and other trans people have a right to exist. And I can’t just walk away from these issues when I’m bored or the same stupid points come up over, and over, and over again.
If you are a self-described ally reading this and it makes you uncomfortable, take a moment to ask yourself why. Perhaps I am an entitled snowflake who hates cis people. Or perhaps you need to do better.
To Caz, Daisy, Jake, Katie, and Joanna. Thank you, you supported me as I worked out who I was and always listened when I needed to talk <3