Transgender rights have come a long way over the years.
In the United States alone, 1.3 million adults identify as transgender. Dozens of celebrities are openly expressing their gender identities. The first openly transgender state senator was sworn in two years ago. Trans people are more visible than ever.
But because of this visibility, there has been increasing pushback against trans liberation. Dozens of bills have been introduced across the country limiting the rights of trans adults and children. Though many these bills have been stopped, it displays a concerning trend of anti-trans sentiment.
The world is especially dangerous for trans people of color. Black trans women make up 63% of transgender victims of violence since 2013. For these individuals, simply living their lives can be fatal.
Now, with a conservative-led House of Representatives, more legislation against trans lives may be passed. Which is why the community needs you.
Yes, you. The one reading this article. Changing a culture of hatred and misunderstanding starts with individuals. To push back against pervasive gender essentialism, the trans community needs cisgender allies to help.
The simplest way to help your trans loved ones is to give them basic respect. Use their correct name and pronouns, whether you’re referring to them in the past, present or future. It’s okay to make mistakes, but practice – even when they’re not around – in order to reduce them.
Simply extending this small gesture can make a huge difference in a person’s life. I know that when I am misgendered or deadnamed by someone who I see as an ally, it hurts. I suddenly reframe my relationship with them and question myself. Is this individual really a friend if they won’t provide me with simple respect?
Ask for pronouns and names. Make yourself an open door to anyone in your life. A friend who is questioning their gender identity will know whether you can be trusted with their most personal attribute. So, make yourself trustworthy.
Along with this, supporting trans-owned businesses and creative endeavors uplifts the community as a whole. Our voices need to be heard across all mediums.
Finally, work to change your own biases. Humans make snap judgements, whether we want to or not. Instead of assuming someone’s pronouns, make an effort to know them before you say anything. Confront your own perceptions of “masculinity” and “femininity.” It’s tough work, but it will help you be a better ally.
Your words matter, and you have a greater impact on the people around you than you may think. Don’t stand by while your friends make transphobic or ignorant comments. Again, change starts at the human level, and you must be an agent for it.
If enough people like you stand with the transgender community, our country can be a better place. Change is being made, even if there is pushback – so keep creating a world where anyone can be accepted. Though it’s impossible to brave the hurricane of bigotry by oneself, if we all work together, maybe we’ll make it through the storm.
Danny William (they/them) is a freshman studying media.