4 ways we can all be better trans allies

12th Aug 18 | Lifestyle

Charity Stonewall shares its tips for understanding and empathising with the experiences of trans men and women.

Pride Glasgow 2017

Despite various campaigns and activists doing great work, sometimes it can feel as though the battle for trans rights is almost going backwards.

This year’s London Pride was highjacked by a group of anti-trans cisgender women, who led the parade for around 20 minutes.

Even though it was just a small group of women pushing a transphobic agenda, it highlights the transgender community’s struggle for acceptance. According to a report from the charity Stonewall – which campaigns for the equality of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people across Britain – a third of trans people were discriminated against in a cafe, restaurant, bar or nightclub last year because of their gender identity.

That’s why it’s more important than ever for people to work on being better allies, to help support our trans brothers and sisters. We spoke to the head of empowerment programmes at Stonewall, Kate Williams, for tips on how to be a better ally to the transgender community.

1. Educate yourself

Education is at the core of being a good ally to anyone – in order to understand and empathise with someone, you need to read up on their struggles and experiences.

Williams says: “Doing some research to educate yourself and confront your own assumptions is a great first step.” She recommends starting with Stonewall’s Q&A The Truth About Trans.

There are plenty of trans activists you can follow on Twitter – such as Jake Graf, Munroe Bergdorf and Shon Faye. With Faye, not only will you get her opinions on the issues surrounding trans people today, but totally incidental to this, her fashion sense is amazing and her wit is razor sharp.

2. Show visible support

“The next step is to show visible support for trans and non-binary people,” Williams says. “This means speaking out and taking action to help improve the lives of trans people everywhere.”

The most recent trans report Stonewall conducted alongside YouGov outlined just how hard life for trans people in Britain is – with two in five having to deal with a hate crime in the past 12 months, and one in eight physically attacked by a colleague or customer at work.

“It’s everyone’s job to call out discrimination, when it’s safe to do so,” says Williams. “You can do this by challenging people who use hurtful or abusive language toward trans people, and reporting transphobic media coverage or anti-trans content on social media.”

3. Encourage everyone to get involved

“We need more organisations, communities and individuals to come together, work as allies with trans people, and ultimately, challenge the huge barriers they currently face,” says Williams.

“Extending equality to others doesn’t take away from anyone else. If we want to live in a world where people are accepted without exception, we all need to be part of the solution.”

4. Translate thoughts into action

Words and intentions are a good start, but won’t necessarily bring about real change – action is needed.

“One way that everyone can step up and Come Out For Trans Equality is by responding to the government’s public consultation on reform of the Gender Recognition Act. There is some helpful guidance for filling out the consultation on the Stonewall website,” Williams says.

“Reforming the current system that trans people must go through to obtain a Gender Recognition Certificate will be another milestone in the journey towards full LGBT equality. Together we can win this fight.”

© Press Association 2018

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