1 post tagged allyship
The Do’s and Don’ts of being a Social Justice Ally, Trans* Edition:
- Ask for pronouns and such in a way that doesn’t put individuals on the spot. This can be accomplished by making pronoun announcements part of introductions for your group or asking someone in a private setting (the latter option is probably the better choice to keep from messing up on the next point).
- Respect someone’s closeted/stealth/out status. Each trans* person is going to have their own reasons for how open they are about their trans* status/history. Don’t out people or shame them for being closeted/stealth, even if you have an out trans* friend who thinks that all trans* folks have an obligation to be out ~to further the cause~.
- Ask permission to ask someone personal questions. People aren’t textbooks; sometimes they don’t have the energy for your questions. Or maybe a question is inappropriate in certain environments or around certain people.
- Educate yourself. I and many (though not all) other trans* people are more than happy to help you out, but there are many Trans* 101 resources available to answer most basic questions. Please try to find an answer to a question before using the trans person/people you know as your own personal transyclopedia.
- Remember that allyship is something you do, not something you are. Some trans* people will be suspicious of you because of a lot of self-identified allies are terrible at allyship and refuse to listen when they’re called out. As someone who is part of a society that devalues trans people, you will inevitably mess up and, at the very least, commit a lot of microaggressions. Working towards allyship means accepting any call-outs, acknowledging your oppressive behavior, and working to fix that behavior.
- Keep private things private. If someone tells you personal information, assume it’s private unless otherwise specified. If you’re unsure, ask if the person if they consider the information between the two of you.
- Be intersectional! There are certain groups such as trans people of color and trans women who are hit particularly hard by anti-trans* bigotry. Make sure any activist work you do does not erase this reality or only speak to more privileged trans people’s realities.
- Ask questions about body parts and surgeries without specifically requesting permission to ask about these things. These conversations can be particularly dysphoria-inducing. Also? They’re really personal questions. You wouldn’t just ask a cis person about the state of their genitals in public; please extend trans people the same courtesy.
- Complain how hard it is to remember someone’s new name, pronouns, or other identifiers. It’s a minor inconvenience for you and trans* people already get a lot of messages telling us that living out our realities is wrong and/or selfish. It hurts even worse when people who claim to be allies send us these messages.
- Equate genitals with gender. For example, do not name your women’s-only bicycle group The Ovarian Psychos. Not everyone with ovaries is a woman, and not every woman has ovaries. Some women have what is normally called a penis (she may not call her bits a penis though) and/or may be intersex. Yes, this is important; you don’t get to erase marginalized groups because their realities inconvenience your sloganeering.
- Assume you know someone’s gender until told. This is super-basic. You cannot discern someone’s gender just by looking at them. Assuming you can reinforces cissexism.
This list isn’t complete by any means, and will probably be added to at some point.