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7 Powerful Ways to Support Transgender People

7 Powerful Ways to Support Transgender People

  Watch Pose, new on FX

Watch Pose, new on FX

It’s June! That means, all month long, LGBTQIA people and allies are celebrating Pride. But Pride isn’t just about parades and parties. It is also about building support and solidarity in our communities.

Despite historic progress, transgender people remain one of the most vulnerable and targeted groups in the country. Here are seven ways that cis (non-transgender) allies can support the trans community, during Pride month and beyond:

Support transgender people in your daily life.

1. Brush up on the basics of being a good ally to trans people, using this guide from the National Center for Transgender Equality. Challenge assumptions about gender and biology that are used to invalidate trans identities and dismiss our lived experience. 

Despite what transphobes may tell you, the narrative around “biological sex” — that sex is assigned at birth, and doesn’t change — is an overly simplistic and false concept. It is being used to dismiss trans identities. As the ACLU’s Chase Strangio explains: “The medical experts I have spoken with could not identify a single medical purpose for assigning sex at birth and explain that the components of sex are far more complex than just external genitalia and include, at least, chromosomes, genes, hormones, internal genitalia, gender identity, and secondary sex characteristics...Our bodies are complex and dynamic, and if we classify people as male and female, such classifications should only be made based on a person’s gender identity.”

2. Read about the unique issues people with non-binary identities face and familiarize yourself with gender-neutral language and pronouns. Discussions of gender tend to focus on binary concepts of men and women, but there are many folks whose experience falls outside of those rigid categories. Be sure to respect the words people use to describe themselves, and do your best to use inclusive language even when they are not in the room.

3. Work to pass a non-discrimination policy in your workplace, using this guide from the Human Rights Campaign. Fewer than one-third of Americans are legally protected employment discrimination based on gender identity and expression.

Promote positive portrayals of transgender people in media.

4. If you see trans issues being misrepresented in the media, contact the writer or publication and urge them to correct the language using GLAAD’s Media Reference Guide. Many people learn about transgender people from watching television or reading stories in the newspaper.

5. Consume media written and produced by transgender people. There is more to choose from than ever before. Some recommendations:

  • Watch Pose, a new series which premiered on FX June 3, and centers five trans women of color in the legendary ballroom scene of 1980s New York. Trans pioneers Janet Mock and Our Lady J write for the show, and Mock directs an episode as well.
  • Watch The Last Sip with Imara Jones, a half-hour weekly news program partnering with How to Help to activate and mobilize historically marginalized communities.

  • Read Tomorrow Will Be Different, a stunning and powerful new memoir from Sarah McBride, who became the first openly transgender person to address a major party convention in 2016.
  • Catch up on Brothers, a groundbreaking webseries created by Emmett Lundberg that follows four transmasculine friends as they navigate their daily lives.

  • Check out Her Story, the first indie webseries to be nominated for an Emmy. The series is written and produced by Jen Richards and follows two trans women leads portrayed by Richards and Angelica Ross.

6. Submit an op-ed or letter to the editor to your local paper voicing your support for the transgender community. This is an effective way to educate others and distribute information on transgender issues from a variety of voices

Empower trans activists doing the work.

7. Donate your money and time. The transgender community has extremely high rates of poverty, and many leading activists in this space are fighting for their survival rather than collecting a paycheck. If you are able, consider offering financial, in-kind, or volunteer support to people and organizations fighting for trans rights and dignity — particularly smaller groups working to support trans people in your area. Focus on organizations led by transgender people, especially trans women of color, who so often lead this work without proper compensation.

If you are not sure where to start, here are examples of great groups to support:

  • Casa Ruby is run and led by transgender women of color in Washington, D.C. Their organization provides a multicultural, bilingual, LGBTQ safe space offering food, shelter, and numerous other health-related services.

  • The Brown Boi Project is a community of masculine of center women, men, two-spirit people, transmen, and allies committed to changing the way communities talk about gender and building the leadership, economic self-sufficiency and health of LGBTQ people of color.

  • Transgender Resource Center of New Mexico is a clearinghouse for resources to support, assist, educate and advocate for the transgender and gender-non-conforming folks in the Southwest.

  • St. James Infirmary is a peer-based occupational health and safety clinic for sex workers and their families in San Francisco. They literally wrote the book on health and safety in sex work, with an explicit focus on transgender identity support.

  • Black Transmen works to ensure that “all transmen and SLGBTQI individuals are provided food, shelter, a space for individual expression/creativity and celebration.” They have state chapters in Georgia, Illinois, Maryland, Michigan, New York, Texas, Virginia and Washington.

  • TransLatin@ Coalition advocates specifically for the needs of the trans Latinx community living in the U.S. Their Center for Violence Prevention & Transgender Wellness in Los Angeles distributes food, fosters leadership development, and supports survivors of immigration detention and incarceration with rental assistance, transportation and food vouchers.

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