It’s International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia! Here at Ditch the Label, we definitely think this day is a pretty important one, as loads of people all over the world still get targeted daily for being gay, bi and trans. Here, we want to focus on tackling transphobia, and so put together this quick guide to being the best trans ally you possibly can!
A trans ally is someone who is cisgender but fights alongside the trans community to tackle prejudice and promote equality. So, whether you’re already clued up about transgender issues, or you’re not so sure and are always worrying that you’ll say the wrong thing – we’re here to help…
1) Backhanded compliments suck and need to stop…
“I never would have known you were trans…”- translates as “well done on passing as ‘normal.'” Newsflash: there is no normal! Also, this insinuates that if you had known, you might have treated them differently. Even if you meant it in the best way possible, just steer clear of things like this…
There are unfortunately many, many more of these so-called ‘backhanded compliments’ which most trans people will probably be familiar with. Steer clear of stuff like this, they have probably heard it all a lot and it certainly isn’t very complimentary – it usually comes from being uninformed or prejudiced. If you hear ‘compliments’ like this, try to challenge it by asking why they have said that.
2) See the person
Do you regularly ask everyone about what’s going on in their pants? The size, shape and history of their genitals? Didn’t think so! Please, pretty please don’t ask trans folks about it either! It’s deeply disrespectful and not ok…EVER! See the person, get to know them for who they are, being trans is only one small part of a person’s story and not their entire identity.
3) Don’t make assumptions about a transgender person’s sexual orientation
Gender identity is different than sexual orientation. Sexuality is about who we are attracted to, whereas gender identity is own personal sense of being male, female or outside the gender binary. Transgender people can be gay, lesbian, bisexual, asexual or heterosexual. Something else to remember is that it’s really none of your business what sexual orientation someone is until they decide to reveal it to you.
4) Ask questions rather than assume
If there is something you’re not clear about, most people will be open to answering your questions as long as they are polite, respectful and not too intrusive. So for example, asking someone which pronouns they use is usually fine (she/he/they). If you have anything else you want to ask, try having an open honest conversation in a safe space, and let them know that you have some questions, but they do not have to answer them if they don’t want to and that you mean no harm in asking them.
5) Shut transphobia down
When you see transphobic abuse, report it. Stand up for your friends and stand up for strangers when it feels safe to do so. No one deserves to be abused because of who they are and/or how they identify. By not saying anything, you are effectively justifying their prejudice and betraying your own beliefs in equality – standing shoulder to shoulder with the trans community to overcome hate and ignorance is the best thing you can do.
6) Do your research
Know about trans issues and current affairs. All you have to do is go online to see what’s going on in the world. Simply being in the know is a good place to start. Form your own opinion and go from there.
7) Be Yourself
You don’t need to be anything other than yourself. If you are a true ally, you believe in equality and overcoming prejudice, then that’s all you need to do: stand up for what you believe in and support others in the face of adversity.
There you have it! Seven quick tips on how to be the best ally to the trans community as you possibly can!
If you need support from a digital mentor or are dealing with transphobia or related issues, join the DTL community. There are a whole bunch of people who can help you today!