Be a Better Ally: How to Support Your Transgender Friends

From Huffington Post:


Nov. 11-17 is Transgender Awareness Week, during which many organizations and community groups work together to raise awareness about important issues facing transgender people. On Tuesday the Young Leaders Council of Fenway Health hosted an interactive and thoughtful discussion about what it means to be an ally for the transgender community.

We heard from two panelists: Donnie Collins, a college student whose fraternity brothers banded together to raise over $20,000 when Donnie’s insurance refused to cover his medical expenses, and Grace Stevens, who works with businesses to develop respectful, inclusive policies and a culture of acceptance.

I consider myself a strong ally for the LGBTQ community (I work at Fenway Health, after all), but this event really broadened my understanding and taught me a lot. When asked how the world could be a better place for trans people, Grace responded, “If they could not fear losing everything when they transition.” Wow. Donnie commented on how children are taught from a young age what is “appropriate” for their biological sex and cautioned, “We don’t want kids to feel unsafe expressing themselves.” We need to stop saying things like, “This is just a phase,” and just let them be.

John Lewis, one of Donnie’s fraternity brothers who helped lead the fundraising efforts and supported Donnie all along, made several insightful comments about being an ally. He didn’t know many trans people before Donnie, but he said that after they became friends, “his fight became my own.” He talked about having lots of questions and being nervous to ask them, but then being grateful when Donnie took the time to answer. Perhaps most importantly, John reminded us all that it’s a continuous learning process for everyone involved.

So what are my takeaways? Here are some of the most basic things we can do to better support our transgender friends:

Continue reading:

9 Responses to “Be a Better Ally: How to Support Your Transgender Friends”

  1. Edith Pilkington Says:

    Sorry to bother you but how many times are you going to run articles which use the term “biological sex” without comment?

    • Suzan Says:

      Probably until the language police kill the term and come up with a politically correct alternative that everyone uses.

      On an up note at least you didn’t chastise me for using fuck too much in something I wrote. FYI I work weekends and am really tired when I throw together a bunch of posts on Sunday night.

  2. Edith Pilkington Says:

    The language police arrived long ago.

  3. Edith Pilkington Says:

    “. . . come up with a politically correct alternative that everyone uses.”

    How long ago did someone come up with “sex assignment” and the post Ginsberg, “gender assignment” for the “politically correct”? Not too much to think about here. Some of us live near Boston, where this post was generated from. If you think “language” doesn’t matter, you’re living in your own past. I’ve talked to many of these people close up. I know what they mean and why they’re choosing the words they do. People who patronize are insidious.

    • Suzan Says:

      I just finished reading Julia Serano’s newest book. In a chapter near the end she writes about “call outs”.

      I haven’t lived in the world of LGBT activism for some time now, most of my personally dealing with the major issues of having been transsexual are part of the ancient past. I weighed the arguments regarding the usage of “trannie” and decided its was a word that fell in the category of being degrading and disrespectful. I fought to keep the word transsexual because I see it as more descriptive of what I did than the word transgender and now many people see it as a legitimate word and not one they need banish from their vocabulary. Indeed Julia used the word transsexual to describe herself through out “Excluded”.

      I’ve even come to use cissexual/cisgender and call out cis-privilege.

      I am no longer part of a community where I feel the need to call out every careless usage. I save my energy for bigger fights with people like the right wing TERFs who disguise themselves as feminists. The internecine Transwars where most of these battles over specific language go on seem to be games for people with a lot of time on their hands.

      I can accept imperfect allies as long as they will stand beside TS/TG folks in the insidious war the right wing and Taliban Christians have started waging against us now they have lost the marriage equality wars.

  4. Edith Pilkington Says:

    I am very capable of griping but “calling out”? No, I am not challenging anyone. I am very sorry if that is the impression I give, really. I hope you are right and I am very wrong. I haven’t forgotten I lack your perspective.

    Regardless, you can build sound arguments even if those arguments are built on faulty premises. This person seems just as worked up about this as I am:

    Call me crazy. Who can prove they’re not?

    • Suzan Says:

      Some gender is socialization or more accurately learned behavior based on core sex identity. Some is innate. There are no princess role models for female lion cubs yet little male and female lion cubs grow up exhibiting different gender traits.

      I get really tired of arguing with fuckwit gender studies rad fems who are every bit as dogmatic and stupid as the Taliban Christer tea bagger morons.

      Remember, “You cannot teach a pig to sing, It is a waste of time and annoys the pig.”

      I’d rather learn a new craft like making things from paracord to sell at swap meets or shaping knife handles to put on blades to sell at those same swap meets.

      I an old woman in a long standing relationship with another old woman. We are discovering frugal living and old age survival. The only real lesbian group I actually associate with is Older Wiser Lesbians.

      I don’t want to have to work in a big box store under some asshole boss.

      I withdrew from these idiotic semantic battles some three years back. Women Born Transsexual is a blog I keep going in my spare time, mostly it consiststs of news articles I find and think others should check out.

  5. Edith Pilkington Says:

    Macrame w/ the paracord? Interesting. You should put up some pictures of your work. I tried leather working when I was 19-20. I made some interesting belts but it was the same when I tried to do photography. I didn’t have a home base to work from. Eventually, I had every one of the few possessions I owned at the time ripped off. My early twenties were impossible. I just found some old calligraphy I did. I had a pretty good hand for someone without any training. Hope your new venture works out for you and Tina. Buena Suerte, seriously.

    • Suzan Says:

      We spent a few hours last week becoming much closer with a woman who works at our doctors office. They are into frugal living, composting, chickens, swap meets etc. Lowering their consumption foot print in a way that still allows them a good deal of comfort without the expense.

      I built a dulcimer from a kit a couple of years ago and a banjo from parts. Lately I’ve been looking at machining some knives from bare blades, putting handles on them and shaping the handles. putting some sheaths together and selling them.

      The same with paracord for guitar straps and gun slings. The stuff is really strong and doesn’t rot so it can be used for bunches of different things.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: