• EMPWR Contributor

We asked 5 transgender people for their top tips on how to be an ally

Updated: Jul 1, 2020

By Phil Hill

Yesterday marked Trans Day Of Visibility; a day dedicated to celebrating the wonderful trans folk within our society alongside raising awareness of the discrimination they still face worldwide.

Many may wonder why such a day exists, but when we look at the shocking statistics surrounding trans people and their lives along with hearing their personal stories, hopefully, one can begin to understand why this day holds such importance within this community.

Trans folk are at a significantly higher risk than their cis counterparts when it comes to hate crime, work discrimination and suicidal tendencies, so we wanted to ask some of our favourite trans advocates for their top tips on how to be an ally.

But before we can begin, let’s quickly take a look at what’s meant by the term ‘trans’ ‘cis’ and ‘ally’.

Transgender, or trans for short, is an umbrella term for anyone whose gender doesn’t match the sex they were assigned at birth. Those who are trans may identify as a trans man, a trans woman, non-binary or genderqueer, although there are many terms people use to describe their gender identity.

Cisgender, or cis for short, is a term used to describe those who’s gender does align with the sex they were assigned at birth.

An ally is a term given to someone who proactively stands up for and advocates for the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.

Hopefully, this piece will inspire you to step up for your trans friends, family and colleagues and encourage others to do the same because although being an ally may sound like hard work, I can assure you, being trans is harder.

For me personally (Genderqueer, they/them) the biggest way someone can be an ally to trans/queer folk is to learn about their cisgender privilege. Just like white and male privilege, cis privilege exists.

How often does a cis person have hold in their need for the toilet because there isn’t a bathroom available for them in public spaces? How often are they asked to fill in a form that doesn’t provide an option for their gender so are forced to choose one that doesn’t resonate with their being? How often do they have to stress about everyday situations like getting a haircut, using a changing room or going swimming due to fear of discrimination?

I feel once a person learns about their cis privilege it enables them to have empathy for those who are trans and therefore encourages them to step up and be an ally.

We asked 5 other transgender people what they thought, and here's what they had to say:

Saoirse | Transgender woman | She/her

For me as a trans woman, the most important thing an ally can be is political. Help us to raise our voices but don’t speak for us!

We can always use more engaged and willing people to attend rallies, sign petitions and to engage with our content online. We need your support to try to move vital healthcare and gender laws through the government.

When something is not inclusive we need you to lobby with us.

Joe Longstreth | Transgender man | He/him

I think the single best thing that allies can do is ask their trans friends questions in good faith. I would much rather a friend ask me an honest question about what I need or how I view things than assume and feel unsure of the possible effects of their actions and words."

"Take a scenario where I’m misgendered by someone just meeting me. I actually prefer if people leave it up to me to decide whether it’s an appropriate time and situation to correct someone, but I have a trans friend who would much prefer if people do the exact opposite and do it themselves! "

"That’s why questions asked in good faith are so important—it’s truly the only way to know for sure how to best navigate these situations in terms of viewing trans people as individuals."

Kiran Evans | Non-binary | They/them

Listen to us and learn from us. Give us opportunities to be in your spaces. Adapt your language - always use our and your own pronouns and correct others around you. Being an ally doesn't stop when non-binary people aren't in the room.

Do your own research - Google and Stonewall are incredibly useful tools. Sign petitions, write to your MP and vote. Donate - not just money, but your time and resources. Engage with us - use your social media to broaden your content.

Noah Halpin | Transgender man | He/him

"A great ally is someone who is willing to listen to and learn from trans lives. Someone who seeks information about trans identities from trans people”.

We’re a small army, so we need people to stand with us and stand for us by helping trans people in fighting for the rights we still do not have such as adequate healthcare, legal gender recognition for non-binary people and young trans people. Let trans people take the lead and fall in beside us.

It can also be doing simple things, like introducing yourself with your pronouns to help normalize it for trans people who often have to explain their pronouns.

Standing up against transphobia and not accepting it both in your inner circle and the wider world.

Leighton Gray | Trans non-binary | They/them

I need trans allies to stop being afraid of us as trans people. Interactions with allies are often laced with fear. The worry of getting something wrong, or asking a stupid question, or offending us.

We are not some stupid online meme that is going to lose the rag if you get something wrong. People get stuff wrong about us all the time, we do not have the time or energy to fly into a fury every single time, and neither would we want to or feel the need to.

The effort to learn and correct yourself is all we are looking for. We are just people. We're not some different species or alien, so don't treat us like one.

© 2020 by EMPWR

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