For those who do not know, this week is Transgender Awareness Week! Celebrated yearly between November 13th through November 19th, Transgender Awareness Week is used to raise visibility and address issues that the community faces.
The day after Transgender Awareness Week is the Transgender Day of Remembrance. Transgender Day of Remembrance is observed November 20th to honor those who have lost their lives due to anti-transgender acts of violence. In 2018, the Human Rights Campaign counted at least 26 deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming people. So far in 2019, they have already counted at least 22 deaths. The vast majority being black transgender women.
So how do we advocate for our trans and gender non-conforming neighbors, classmates, friends, family, and loved ones? Lucky for you, I have created a handy-dandy advocation list:
1. Do Your Research
This is so important. In order to be the best ally you can be, you need to make sure you know what you are talking about! Research pronouns, read up on jargon or what it means to transition, etc., know the difference between sex and gender, watch documentaries, use Google, whatever you need to do, get educated. Three websites that are always helpful are https://www.hrc.org/, https://www.glaad.org/, and http://www.transstudent.org/.
2. Normalize All Pronouns
Whether you are cisgender, transgender, or gender non-conforming, sharing your pronouns is a good first step in showing your allyship. Put your pronouns in your Twitter bio, place a pronoun button on your backpack or jacket, and when your teacher/professor tells your class to “go around the room and say your name and pronouns”, do it! Do not roll your eyes or let out an audible *sigh*. You never know who is around you, so be courteous.
3. Use Your Voice For Good
Stand up for those who can not stand up for themselves. If you hear others using transphobic slurs, call them out. Words hurt; you can be the reason someone else feels safer.
4. Use Inclusive Language
When talking about individuals, try using “they” or “them” instead of assuming their gender. Inclusive language is important in all situations, but especially important when speaking with and to those who you are not familiar with yet. This makes the atmosphere much more open to all involved.
5. Make Your Allyship Known
If you know someone who is transgender or gender non-conforming, reach out to them and let them know that you are there if they need you. Not everyone has a solid support system, whether that be at home or friends, and would love to know that they have someone there for them. Allyship comes in all forms. For example, I do not like needles and am unable to do my testosterone shot, which I use as a part of hormone replacement therapy, so my partner does it for me. I know not everyone is able to or comfortable with doing this, but anything they need can help immensely.
And most importantly…
6. DO NOT OUT PEOPLE
THIS IS EXTREMELY IMPORTANT!! It is not always safe for those to be out. Even though we all so desperately wish we lived in a world where we could be out, some trans and gender non-conforming folk have to be stealth. It is only okay to talk openly about someone’s identity if given explicit consent from that individual. If they have not said that it is okay or they have told you they are not out/open, YOU DO NOT HAVE THE RIGHT TO OUT THEM!
Being an ally, mainly in today’s world, is essential. Especially if you have the power and privilege that others do not. No one is perfect, but we are learning more every day. Keep educating yourselves and keep fighting for those who do not have the means to fight for themselves right now. For more information on how to be a good transgender and gender non-conforming ally, you can refer to this PDF.
Happy Transgender Awareness Week!