How to be an Ally of the Transgender Community
June is LGBTQ+ Pride Month and we want to talk about what it means to be an ally. This marginalized community is making massive moves towards equality, but still has a long way to go, unfortunately. In recent years, we’ve heard a lot of news surrounding the transgender community. From Trump’s military ban to increasing hate crime against trans people, this news is often disheartening and hard to hear.
This injustice is why we all need to pledge to be allies. An ally is a person who is not part of the community but shows support to those in the community.
There has also been a lot of discussion and confusion about gender identity and gender pronouns. Yes, this can be confusing, because many people don’t know what they don’t know. Love Squad wants to help change this by squashing some of the misconceptions and giving you tools on how to be a ally of the trans community.
Here we go!
You can’t know someone’s gender identity by the way they look.
It is important to steer clear of generalizations. Just because someone looks "masculine" doesn't mean someone identifies as a man, and vice versa. Don't make assumptions!
Singular “they/them” is a legitimate pronoun.
Some people point to grammar rules when they get uncomfortable about this pronoun. We have actually been using the singular "they" for generations in everyday speech. Plus, in 2017, the AP Stylebook included "they" as a singular gender-neutral pronoun. English grammar was exclusive for way too long; it's finally starting to evolve with the times.
It is OK to ask what pronouns someone prefers, but share yours first.
If you are in a group setting and are not sure how to refer to someone, listen to how their friends refer to that person. If you are still not sure, or not in a group setting, ask that person directly! For example, you can say, "My name is ___ and I prefer 'she' and 'her.' Which pronouns do you prefer?"
If you misuse a pronoun, quickly correct yourself, apologize, and move on.
If you are used to one pronoun, it can be hard to get used to another one. However, this is someone's identity you are referring to, so it is so important to use the correct pronoun. Humans do make mistakes sometimes, though, so if you use an incorrect pronoun, make the adjustment and don't harp on it.
Understand that each trans journey is unique and doesn’t always include medical care.
Some people use hormones and surgery in their journey to match their bodies to their identities, while others do not. Medical care is very expensive so some people are unable to access the services they would like to incorporate in the journey. There is no correct way to transition, so whatever the trans individual does to transition is perfectly normal.
Avoid backhanded compliments.
Sometimes backhanded compliments are not meant to be offensive, but they can be hurtful no matter the intention. Saying things like, "You're so pretty; I would have never guessed you were transgender" or "Wow, you look like a real man" have no place in the community. Compliment your trans friends the way you would compliment your cisgender friends!
Don’t assume someone’s sexuality based on their gender.
Gender and sexuality do not correlate. Just because someone is transgender doesn't mean they are homosexual. Both gender and sexuality are spectrums. A trans person can be gay, straight, bi, pansexual, asexual, etc, just like a cisgender person can be gay, straight, bi, pansexual, asexual, etc.
Speak up against misinformation, hateful speech and anti-transgender jokes!
It is not enough to use the right pronouns and ensure you don’t make offensive assumptions if you are going to condone other people spreading hate and misinformation. If someone says something hateful, let them know it is not OK. If you hear someone say something about the community or someone in the community that is false, correct them. As an ally, you must help combat these things as well.
This is an opportunity to be better. We must help our sisters, brothers, and neighbors by practicing tolerance and love each and every day. Do you take the pledge??
Happy Pride Month!