With the rise of the hashtag #transally I thought it timely to write a piece on how to be a Trans Ally.
The way I see it, a Trans Ally is someone who is cisgender (i.e. not trans) who supports the trans community by taking an active role to help tackle prejudice and promote equality.
I see myself as a Trans Ally and hope that these 5 tips will help more cisgender people join me.
1. Respect pronouns
It is so important to ask for and use people’s pronouns. Make sure you don’t just do this if you think someone might be trans but get in the habit of doing it with everyone. If you make a mistake apologise, correct yourself and move on; don’t make a big deal of it but try to get it right next time.
2. Start with gender neutral language
If you are not sure what someone’s pronouns are or don’t have the opportunity to ask, it is usually best to start with gender neutral language (such as ' the children' rather than ‘the girls’) and gender neutral pronouns (such as they/them). Make an effort to get in the habit of doing this in your day-to-day life so that it comes naturally to you.
3. Don’t ask invasive questions
Just as you wouldn’t ask cis people what’s in their pants it is totally disrespectful to ask trans people this. Being a good ally involves respecting the privacy of trans people’s bodies and also being aware that being trans doesn’t always need to involve hormones or surgery.
4. Stand up to transphobia
Being a Trans Ally involves speaking up. Don’t stay silent when you see transphobic abuse as staying silent betrays your beliefs and makes others think you think it’s OK. Stand up for strangers in public, your friends and any time you see transphobia online. Tell the transphobe that they are being offensive and their behaviour is unacceptable. Always report transphobia.
5. Educate yourself
Trans people have created a huge number of resources and lots have recorded their journeys. This is a good place to start in educating yourself with these books/blogs/films.
It can also be helpful to keep up to date with current affairs as there is a lot of transphobia in the mainstream press which is affecting trans people daily. By educating yourself you can become a better ally and help counter the attack on trans people by spreading more information with the general public to help our society become more aware.
Lastly, please share this with as many people as you can and help create more Trans Allies.