Five ways you can be a better ally to trans people

Stock image of a person holding a trans flag

As 2023 comes to a close – leaving behind a significant wave of transphobia – we look ahead to what will hopefully be a better year for LGBTQ+ people, and ask how cis people can be better allies to trans and non-binary people in 2024.

In a year that has seen Rishi Sunak claim misgendering trans people is “common sense”, the Tories propose a ban on trans women in female hospital wards, hundreds of anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+ laws passed in the US, and rising transphobic hate crimes, trans and non-binary people need vocal allyship more than ever before.

In March, it was found that the UK had slid down the rankings of LGBTQ-friendly nations in Europe, with anti-trans rhetoric being cited as a reason for the country being rated 17th.

Despite this, allyship and trans resistance has been growing louder, with thousands of people marching in London’s Trans+ Pride event in July, trans artists getting the representation they deserve, celebrities like Dolly Parton speaking out for trans rights, and many bigoted laws being overturned thanks to the hard work of trans activists.

Now it’s time to build on the allyship we’ve seen, and give some advice about how best to treat the trans and non-binary people in your life.

In the video below, Fox Fisher and Owl (Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir) share their five top ways you can support and show true allyship to transgender and non-binary people.

  1. Check in with trans people: Fox and Owl explained that trans people are “often struggling” due to issues like transphobia, misgendering or “negative attention”, so if you have a trans or non-binary person in your life, check in on them and make sure their mental health is okay and they’re not feeling isolated.
  2. Challenge everyday transphobia: The two explained that allies should use their voices to challenge everyday transphobia, like misgendering or using dead names, and engage people in conversations that might change their view or “open their eyes” to trans people’s viewpoints. They warn not to be aggressive, and assess the situation, because it may not be safe. If you witness a violent hate crime or an emergency, always dial 999.
  3. Respect pronouns: Fox and Owl explain that if you want to be a good ally, respecting people’s pronouns is a necessity. They explain that this doesn’t mean getting it perfect “off the bat”, but making the effort to learn and respect people’s pronouns. If you mess up, “just say sorry and choose to move on”. You could also get into the habit of sharing your own pronouns, so people feel safe sharing theirs with you.
  4. Support and donate: If you have the means to do so, volunteering or supporting trans charities or a person’s individual transition fundraiser can be a great way to help the community access the resources they need. According to the Human Rights Campaign, almost three in ten trans adults live in poverty, so sharing resources if you can is a great way to help the community.
  5. Be actively and visibly supportive: Fox and Owl say allies could support trans people on social media, share articles, talk about trans people, and generally “make people know that you’re a trans ally”. If you answer questions about trans people as an ally, it can “take heat” and emotional labour off trans people to do the same thing.

If you’re a young trans person looking for support, or an ally looking to support a trans person close to you, charities including Just Like Us and The Trevor Project are always there with information and resources.

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