5 Main Tips for Being a Better Trans Ally

Hey pals,

November is Trans Visibility month, and this week is specifically Trans Visibility and Awareness week with Trans Day of Remembrance landing next Friday (20th). We still have a long way to go with Trans Rights in the UK, but also globally. being a trans person of multiple marginalised identities is even more scary, isolating and dangerous. Many trans people are also mentally ill, neuro-diverse, disabled, chronically ill, Black, Indigenous, a person of colour, or queer in some form as well, or any combo of these things all at once. If you are new here, I am Artie, I am a nonbinary trans person with multiple disabilities and chronic illnesses, neuro-diverse, mentally ill and queer. Many people like to mock these long lists of identities, claiming it isn’t possible to be all of these things. I have to say, though, a lot of these things end up becoming several things in one go or leading to other things. Being trans alone can lead to mental illness because of the lived experiences we go through. Like, PTSD from a traumatic event that only happened because we are trans. Or depression from living with dysphoria or having to hide our identity for survival. I could go on, but I’ll leave it at that.

I wanted to bring you a list (incomplete, obviously) to help you become a better ally to trans people and giving you more direct ways you can help make a positive impact on someone’s life. It’s all fine and dandy thinking about the bigger picture, voting in people who are trans or support trans people, but we have a way to go before laws are changed. However, the U.S election did make me feel a sense of hope for trans politics as many trans people of different lived experiences were elected. Maureen Turner, for example, is the first Muslim nonbinary person elected as a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives! With the hundreds of deaths every year of trans people being murdered or committing suicide, I thought this list might be more helpful to make a more direct impact and maybe help some trans people reach the safety they need.

1. Stand up for us, use your voice: lots of people are all talk with their trans friends, but when it matters, many people stay quiet. Now that almost everything is online, it’s easier than ever to offer assistance to your trans and nonbinary friends, and help make their corner of the internet safer. It’s really draining being harrassed by transphobes and TERFs and can often be really demeaning and humiliating. Many of us struggle with mental illness as well, which can make standing up for ourselves really difficult. In a calm conversation with friends, I can explain why trans lives matter and the many facts I have memorised to help myself feel validated in my identity, but if someone chooses to confront me or question my right to live peacefully, everything goes out of the window and I can’t think! It’s a lot easier to stand up for a friend than it is yourself, so speak to your friends and offer to help them if this happens. I’ve had a couple of cis friends say I can send them to any post of mine that is being targeted by a transphobe, and they will sort it for me, and they did! That’s something small you can do that means a lot to trans people. 

2. Write some official Letters: similar to the point above, arguing with people about our rights as human beings is really draining and endless. If you know of a business or company that aren’t doing enough for trans customers or workers, contact them! If you follow politics and hear trans rights being threatened (as they always are) or you hear your MP say something uninformed and ignorant about trans people, send them an email! Contact local schools, or schools of family members and ask what they are doing to support trans students and teachers. The list really is endless, but start at home. Where do you go regularly? When do your trans friends and family go regularly? are those locations doing enough? I’ve found publically tweeting these businesses can do quite a lot, they don’t like the bad publicity… You can send them emails, contact them on social media, or do it the old fashioned way and send a letter. The more people who make these moves, the more the outside world will be forced to change. 

3. Stop Supporting Transphobic Celebrities: This goes for any kind of celebrity. Writers of all kinds, actors, people in film at all levels, social media stars, influencers, reality stars. etc. etc. Unfollow them, stop consuming their content, stop buying their merchandise, and tell your friends and family to do the same. Obviously, you’re not going to know all the time if someone is transphobic or has declared transphobic views to the world. That’s fine. But make a habit of maybe doing a quick Google search every now and again. If someone tells you someone you like is transphobic, ask them a bit more about it and do your own research. I’m not telling you to blindly follow what people tell you, but I’m telling you to start making the effort to educate yourself and help to educate others.

4. Educate yourself. A follow up to the end of my last point. I’ve given Beverly a long list of books that are a good place to start but there is so much more out there. Following trans and nonbinary activists online is a great way to learn from someone’s experience in real time. My Genderation make great trans films and projects on YouTube, a mixture of fun things and informative documentaries. Google is a free resource to learn more, and you can request books at your local libraries. Trans charities are a great place to go to find useful resources, Stonewall, Gendered Intelligence and Mermaids are three you can start with. Also, there are Facebook groups made especially for cis people to ask questions and learn in a non-judgmental space and allow for accidents and clumsy language. I also recommend looking into some of my past content as I have talked about my personal experience with gender across platforms like instagram, youtube, twitter and this blog.

5. MONEY! Redirect your cash. One way is supporting trans charities. Think about things you like to buy for yourself or others as presents and find some trans creatives who make something like it (because there will be many, trust me!) many trans people have their own small businesses or are freelancers of some kind. Support local shops and businesses that also provide a safe space for trans people to go and have groups. If you don’t often have a lot of money to spare, there are other ways you can fundraise for charities. I recommend you read up on some and decide which you would like to support and ask them directly the ways you can help. Some examples are the recycling schemes, many charities accept or are part of the ink cartridge scheme, or you can decide to make your Facebook birthday fundraiser for them. But all in all, support trans people all year round, not just when we are being attacked again from whatever news source, celebrity, or politician. 

Being trans can be really lonely, and many trans people also overlap with other marginalised communities. It’s important to support all trans people not just the skinny, white, non-disabled, cis-passing ones. Fill your feeds with diversity of all kinds. Learn to open your mind and get used to a bruised ego, it comes with the territory of learning to be a better ally. You won’t always do the right thing, no one is expecting or demanding perfection. We just want more people to try.

I hope this post was helpful. Don’t forget to follow my blog and subscribe to my youtube channel. Follow my instagram too for posts kind of like this but short form. I hope you take some time to find trans creatives and activists that appeal to you and your learning. Hopefully next year will be better.

~ Artie

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