From normalising addressing pronouns to fact-checking your sources, here are some steps you can take towards allyship
BY NIC CROSARA, IMAGE BY THE GENDER SPECTRUM COLLECTION
Welcome to this month’s IMO AKA In My Opinion. This is a column where we approach some questions, queries and dilemmas we often hear from our readership and offer up some advice. Remember, this is by no means a one-size-fits-all kinda deal, but hopefully these words help you.
Trans and non-binary lives are under attack. We need allyship more than ever. So if you’re wanting to show support for trans lives, here are some tips to get you started this Trans Awareness Week that you can carry with you all-year round.
Before we dive in, let’s talk about some useful terms to make things easier to follow
Transitioning: For some people this will be socially transitioning (e.g changing their name, pronouns) for some this could be medical (e.g hormone therapy, gender affirming surgery) and some people do both. There is not one way to be trans, just like there is not just one way to be cis. Whether someone transitions medically or not, they are valid.
Transphobia: The fear, dislike or discrimination of someone based on the fact that they are trans. This includes denying their gender identity.
Misgendering: Referring to someone as the wrong gender. This could be done through the wrong pronoun or address that does not correctly reflect the gender that they are.
Deadnaming: Calling someone by their birth name after they have changed their name either socially or legally. Again, both are valid. Oh, and FYI, legal name changes are not cheap.
Let’s talk about pronouns
An easy place to start when talking about trans allyship is putting your pronouns in your social media bios. You might think you don’t need to put your pronouns in your bio as it’s “easy to tell what your gender is” however, this is definitely a misconception. There is no one way to look cisgender (someone who identifies as the gender they were assigned at birth) or transgender (someone who does not). Putting your pronouns in your bio helps to normalise the act of sharing your pronouns, and not just in LGBTQIA spaces.
Which leads to my next point. If you are unsure what pronouns someone uses, you can listen to what other people use when referring to them. If you want to be safe you can simply say, “Hi, I’m Jane, and I use she/her pronouns. What about you?” If you accidentally use the wrong pronoun after that, apologise quickly and sincerely. Correct your mistake, and move on.
Since trans issues have gained more awareness, I’ve noticed more people use they/them pronouns as a blanket for everyone. While this may be well-intentioned, referring to someone who uses she/her, he/him or any other pronouns that are not they/them is still misgendering.
Check your sources
One of the things I find most exhausting about being trans is how much misinformation is easily believed. The “trans debate” is very topical right now. Which unfortunately means that articles spreading anti-trans propaganda or harmful misinformation perform very well online. This has resulted in many mainstream publications intentionally perpetuating this on their platforms. With so much false information out there, a big step you can take is checking your sources. Is there bias? Does the author or publication have a history entrenched in transphobia as well as prejudices towards other marginalised groups? Where have they got their information from?
Listen to trans and non-binary people
To be a good ally, you have to be a good listener. While you shouldn’t expect the emotional labour of being educated by a trans person on all things trans allyship, simply listening is a great way to check your own unchecked misconceptions. From speaking with trans people, you’ll soon realise that gender does not equal sexuality, that you can’t tell if someone is trans or non-binary just by looking at them and many of the other myths and stigmas that surround the community.
Have your voice heard
So you’ve taken these first steps towards trans allyship. What’s next? Use your voice. Right now trans rights are under attack. As I write these words, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has been reported on planning to remove legal protections for trans people from the Equality Act 2010. Anti-trans propaganda is rampant within the majority of the media and hate crime is on the rise. We need allyship more than ever. Use your voice. Write to your local MP. Sign petitions. Make it clear that you are a trans ally. The world is a better place when we stand together and lift each other up.
Disclaimer: I am in no way a therapist, or professional coach in any way. This advice is just based on my own lived experience and would likely change for each nuanced individual. But I hope that you can take something from this. DIVA does not necessarily agree or disagree with the statements made in this column.
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