What is the difference between being aware of trans people and being a good ally? Surely awareness is enough, right? Wrong. Theres a huge difference between just doing bare minimum and knowing that trans people exist and supporting trans people to the best of your ability.
It is one thing to say “yeah trans people exist” and another to say that trans people exist as well as understanding that gender is a spectrum and accepting all trans people, regardless of if they’re binary or not. A good way to be aware is by taking time to learn about trans issues. Not only by talking to trans people (sometimes we get exhausted explaining ourselves to people constantly), google it. Many trans people have written guides to being aware of trans issues, utilise these resources. Trans people do not owe it to you to explain everything about their lives and experiences. It. Is. Exhausting.
Be “aware” of trans people all year. We don’t all come out of the woodwork just for November. We exist all year. We struggle all year. We want equal rights and awareness, all year. Understand that we are not the enemy, we are simply living life and would like the world to be more inclusive of not only trans people, but everyone. It genuinely hurts NO ONE to make things inclusive, it does however, make marginalised groups feel more comfortable living. It is a win-win situation.
HOW TO BE A GOOD ALLY
- Use a trans persons correct pronouns, even when they’re not around. I can’t believe this needs to be said, but if someone refers to your trans friend/family member/coworker with the wrong pronouns, correct them, don’t change how YOU refer to them. Most of the time, the person will be grateful that you corrected them. This is especially important with GNC pronouns. Always refer to people with the correct pronouns.
- Call out transphobia when you come across it. No matter where you are, call transphobia out. Transphobia can come in many forms; from physical violence, to off the cuff remarks. Sometimes, people don’t even realise they’re being transphobic, until they’re called out. This is why it is so important to call it out, so that people not as educated as yourself in trans matters, can become a better ally and not harm trans people.
- Dismantle the rigid gender norms. For everyone. Its all well and good saying “men should wear crop tops”, but when that translates to “cis men should wear crop tops”, it becomes an issue. Many times when trans people wear clothes that don’t fit the box that they’re confined into, they are accused of not being trans and this is so harmful. Be a good ally and say no to confining people to the gender norms. This includes non-binary people too. When a non binary person wears “mens” clothes, they are still non binary. When a non binary person wears “womens” clothes, they are still non binary. stop policing what genders can and cannot do and wear.
- Learn inclusive language. This can range from using they/them pronouns to refer to someone who’s gender you may not know (or to refer to GNC folks), to calling “feminine hygiene” products “menstrual products”. This also means you need to understand that trans men are men, trans women are women and that a persons genitals does not determine their gender. Understand that it really isn’t that hard to be inclusive and once you get into the mindset, it is one of the easiest things to do.
- Lastly, understand your cis privilege. Understand that people are more likely to listen to cis people as they are the minority, so amplify trans voices, rather than speaking over them. Understand that some trans people are in fact discriminated against and murdered, purely for being trans. This just isn’t the case for cis people. You. Are. Not. Discriminated. Against. For. Being. Cis.
Side Note: Support trans creators. Trans people are often discriminated against in the work place and find it harder to get and keep a job, so support them the best you can. It really is appreciated.
Go to your local TDoR (Trans day of remembrance) event on 20th November. A great way to kick off being a good ally, is to support your local TDoR event, where we mourn the trans people who have sadly lost their lives this year.