- trans is a universal term referring to people whose gender identity or expression differs from their assigned sex
- intersex - is a general term used for a variety of conditions in which a person is born with a reproductive or sexual anatomy that doesn’t seem to fit the typical definitions of female or male
- non-binary or genderqueer is a variety of gender identities that are not exclusively masculine or feminine - identities that are outside the gender binary
- BAME - Black, Asian and minority ethnic people
- cisgender – someone whose identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex.
Intersectionality is a framework to understand that we have multiple identities, and that every part of our identities is connected.
Acknowledging this opens us up to being able to learn with greater understanding about people with intersecting identities and the multiple oppressions these people may face. Being mindful of this can help us to create a safer space for all.
Gender identity is not sexual identity
It is important to note gender identity and sexual identity are separate. Your gender identity does not necessarily inform your sexual identity.
Recognise that being transgender is not about how someone looks
Being trans is not about dressing and acting a certain way. For example, trans women don’t need to be feminine, trans men don’t need to be masculine and non-binary people don’t need to be androgynous.
The way people look, and act does not determine their identity.
If you don’t understand an identity, it doesn’t mean it is not real
Just because you’ve never heard about certain identities before does not mean that the don’t exist. Though understanding different identities can take time, as an ally it is important to keep striving to learn and educate yourself.
Trans people don’t have to explain everything to their allies. Having to explain or defend your identity can be emotionally and mentally draining. If someone does choose to share their identity with you, understand how difficult this may have been for them and respond with patience and kindness.
You can use someone's correct name and pronoun even if you don’t fully understand their identity yet.
BAME trans people are more likely to face discrimination due to the intersections of their race, gender, and religion.
Alongside that, there is a lack of accurate representation for BAME trans people in society.
As a result, many BAME trans people encounter more barriers to access healthcare and support, which can impact on their wellbeing.
Transphobia is a form of prejudice and discrimination towards people whose gender expression doesn’t conform to traditional gender roles. Transphobia prevents people from living their lives free from oppression and harm. Transphobia can sometimes exist in LGB+ communities, which can mean there are fewer safe space for trans people.
What you can do
Listen - experiences of transphobia can be dismissed. Listen to how you can provide support and be an ally.
Use gender inclusive language – “hi all” “hi everyone”.
Apologise - if you make a mistake. It is okay – apologise and move on.
Use pronouns - it can be helpful to introduce yourself as a cisgender person with your pronouns. “Hi, I’m Emma, I identify as she, her, hers”. This can feel awkward at first because we’re not used to doing it.
However, this can foster a more inclusive environment. Normalising the practice of sharing your pronouns can help others to do the same and lowers the chance for unintentional misgendering. One easy way to do this is to add your pronouns to your email signature and social media profiles.
Educate yourself - use social media, blogs, websites, and books to educate yourself on the issues facing trans communities. Don’t rely on trans, non-binary and intersex people to do it for you.
Being an ally
- being an ally is showing your support in changing the world for marginalised communities even if you do not share the same identities
- being an ally is actively challenging transphobic language and actions
- being an ally is recognising systemic inequalities and realising the impact of micro-aggressions
- being an ally is believing in underrepresented peoples experiences
- being an ally is listening, supporting, self-reflecting and changing
- being an ally is being aware of gendered terms.
This has been a basic guide on how to be a proactive and understanding ally. If you want to educate yourself further, we have compiled some useful links to help you along your journey: