Action Steps for Being a Trans Ally Presented at the Conference for Teachers for Social Justice

Transgender encompasses many different gender presentations and identities. From Male to Female to-Female to Male to Femme Queen, Boio, Trannfag, Female-born man, Transwoman, Tomboy, Butch, Crossdresser, and many more. Many people do not identify as “transgendered” but still face discrimination based on their gender expressions and for not conforming to traditional gender presentations.

1. Don’t make assumptions about trans person’s sexual orientation

Gender identity is different than sexual orientation. Being gay doesn’t mean that you are trans and being trans doesn’t mean that you are gay. Sexual orientation is about who we’re attracted to. Gender identity is about how we see ourselves. Transpeople can identify as gay, straight, bisexual, pansexual, or asexual.

2. If you don’t know what prounouns to use, ask. Politely and respectfully

Then use the pronoun and encourage others to do so also.

3. Confidentiality, Disclosure, and Outing

Some trans people “pass” and some do not. Knowing a trans person’s status is personal information and up to them to share with other people. Gwen Araujo and Brandon Teena were both murdered when others revealed their trans status. Others routinely lose housing, jobs, and friends. Do not casually share the information, or gossip about a person you know or this is trans.

4. Don’t assume what path a transperson is on regarding surgery or hormones

Affirm the many ways all of us can and do transcend gender boundaries, including the choices some of us make to use medical technology or change our bodies. Some trans people wish to be recognized as their gender of choice without surgery or hormones. Some need support and advocacy to get respectful medical care, hormones, and or surgery.

5. Don’t police public restrooms

Recognize that gender variant people may not match the little signs on the restroom door- or your expectations. Encourage businesses and agencies to have unisex bathrooms, and offer to accompany a trans person to the bathroom so they are less vulnerable

6. Don’t just add the T without doing work.

GLBT is now commonplace to show support for queerness. To be an ally for Transpeople, Gays, Lesbians, and bisexual people need to examine their own gender stereotypes and transphobia and be willing to defend trans people and celebrate trans lives.

7. Listen to trans voices

The best way to be an ally is to listen to transpeople themselves. Check out sites and books below. Talk to transfolk in your community. They are the experts of their own lives! Allies Do’s and Don’t’s

Do… Take Action!

  1. Become aware of the similarities and differences between you and others (through conversations, literature, workshops, etc.
  2. Gain knowledge about the issues (LGBTQ policy, culture, and laws)
  3. Address homophobic individuals without being defensive or threatening
  4. Go to LGBTQ events/spaces
  5. Build dialogues around LBGTQ issues (make sure to have a foundational knowledge about it)
  6. Examine LGBTQ stereotypes and assumptions that you have
  7. Expect to make mistakes, but also hold yourself accountable when you do make them
  8. Be an ally to all groups and not just one community
  9. See that people have multiple identities i.e. queer Latinas
  10. Understand that LGBTQ identities can be fluid
  11. Use your privilege to support others who are not as privileged
  12. Challenge stereotypes

Don’t

  1. Make assumptions LGBTQ communities are diverse
  2. Automatically associate sex with sexual orientation
  3. Ask intimate questions without assuring that it is appropriate to the situation and relationship
  4. Disregard or ignore people’s experience and identities
  5. Segregate the LGBTQ communities- these are issues affects everyone day in and day out. (Don’t fall into the LGBTQ month mentality)