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Ally to Activist: The Basics

It’s not new ground, but it’s worth repeating as a disclaimer: showing up looks different for everyone. Not all of us can afford to donate significant portions of our money or time, and there are many other worthy causes and communities out there in need of attention as well. Terms like ‘slacktivism’ are utterly unproductive. There is absolutely value in posting on social media about Trans* issues; it keeps these issues in the public conscience and shows Trans* people that they have allies out there. On the other hand, there is absolutely no value in criticizing people for showing support to the Trans* community. Of course, people can be doing more than posting on social media, but policing the activism of others is a waste of time, creates division, and only weakens the cause. Stay in your own lane, and focus on the positive!

The very basics of allyship don’t actually take any extra time or effort. I would hope that most of us try to be supportive of the people in our lives. Sort of like a happy birthday message, if you see someone post for International Transgender Day of Visibility, you might send a positive message their way to mark the occasion. I would hope that most of us do some research into the political candidate we are considering voting for. Even when busy, we can hopefully find a few moments to Google the candidate’s stance on certain policies and issues or read their flyer. I would hope that most of us call people out on their bigotry when we judge ourselves able to do so safely, in the same way we would call people out who are just being mean without the bigotry angle. An asshole is an asshole.

Going beyond the basics, I would urge you to join the conversation. A lot has been said about the importance of listening to and not speaking over Trans* voices, but it is equally important not to take this as an instruction to withdraw from the conversation altogether. In a reversal of the idea of ‘slacktivism’, where people’s real motivations and commitment to a cause are doubted and penalized, many people seem afraid that their good intentions will be disregarded in the face of their perhaps poorly-chosen words. One of the most important things an activist or ally to any cause can do is lose their fear of discomfort. Learning comes from a space of discomfort – and this can apply to anyone in any situation. Without putting ourselves in unfamiliar spaces where we may make mistakes, we cannot learn and grow. Put simply: stick around after the talk for the Q&A, and don’t be afraid to put your hand up.

If you’re looking for somewhere to start, we’ve compiled some FAQs about the Trans* community here

If you’re looking for ways to get more involved – why not take action with us?


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