Becoming A Trans Ally: A Few Tips
This past year has been big for the LGBTQ community. The marriage equality act was passed nationwide a day before the pride parade here in NYC, and what a day it was. Caitlyn Jenner was on the cover of Vanity Fair for the first time in June 2015. Laverne Cox has been a huge activist for trans rights— with a powerful portrayal of Sophia in Orange Is The New Black, a trans woman stripped of her dignity and rights in prison. Mainstream media is catching on, and we all know a large part of the world’s population needs to see something represented in mainstream media for it to be humanized in their conscience. Attempts have been made in big budget movies but the execution hasn’t quite delivered— such as Jared Leto in Dallas Buyers Club. You could say his efforts were genuine and his devotion to losing weight unwavering, but if you strip down his character, Rayon, a transgender woman, you only find an empty shell of the stereotype of trans people. Rayon was to 2013 what Mammy was to 1939 [Gone With The Wind]— at the time it seemed like a “generous” representation of a minority in Hollywood, only to look back at it decades later and cringe at our ignorance. They even have the Academy’s pat-yourself-on-the-back Oscar in common.
Being trans today could be compared to what being gay was like 50 years ago— facing transphobia in the forms of job unemployment and homelessness (due to eviction), dehumanization, ridicule and extreme violence; 2016 has been the deadliest year on record for transgender people in the United States. Fifty percent of transgender homicides in the last three years were transgender women of color. Not to say that LGB’s dont face discrimination, yet somehow trans discrimination seems to be way more prominent and socially “acceptable” these days. Trump was elected president recently. Now is more important than ever (and easier than ever with social media) to access and share information, educate ourselves, and support extremely vulnerable groups that Trump — and other grotesque leaders all over the world —have threatened.
So lets take a step towards compassion and love— and educate ourselves on how to be a respectful ally to the trans community.
Source: Tyler Ford
Study up a little bit on gender! Click here to read our article Demystifying: Gender
Do not assume sexual orientation.
Do not ask what their ‘real’ name or ‘real’ gender is.
Don’t assume the LGBTQ community always wants to share: A transgender person doesn't always want to disclose their life stories, dont treat them like encyclopedias. You wouldn’t go around asking a random person about their genitals and medical history. Basically ask questions you’d de comfortable asking a straight cisgender stranger.
PRONOUNS ARE IMPORTANT: try to ascertain the pronouns they prefer: listen to what pronoun the person uses, and listen to what a close friend calls the person. When in doubt, just kindly ask.
Be patient with a person who is questioning or exploring their gender identity. Acknowledge that pressuring a person to define their identity is simply trying to control the unknown. There’s no rush for anyone to define anything.
There is no right or wrong way to transition: A trans person does not need to be taking hormones or have undergone gender confirmation surgery to be a “true” transgender person.
Avoid backhanded compliments or helpful ‘tips’: Sometimes saying things like “you’re so brave” or “Omg I never would have known, she’s so hot” can be hurtful and downright insulting.
A transgender woman is not the same as a cross-dresser or drag-queen— these are generally people that identify as male (gay or not)that wear 'feminine' clothes for fun or for entertainment. Do not use the term "transvestite" unless someone explicitly identifies themselves as such.
Support gender neutral bathrooms.
Do not tolerate anti LGBTQ jokes and remarks.
Know your own limits: dont be afraid to admit when you don’t know something. its way better than making assumptions.
If you make a mistake (which will probably happen— and that’s ok as long as its from a kind-hearted place) apologize sincerely and move on.
Share this information with other people who might not have access to it or might be ignorant of the challenges LGBTQ community faces. Allies are people from all kinds of backgrounds, religions, races and preferences.
Sources: The Gender Book by Mel Reiff Hill, J. Mays
Source: Transparent Amazon
Source: Andreja Pejic
Source: Dark Matters
Source: Poem Baker
Source: M. Sharkey
Source: Tyler Ford