This episode is for anyone wanting to do better as an ally for trans and gender diverse folks or learn about becoming one.
Because being an ally isn’t just a once off thing! It’s not just a performative practice for when TGD folks are around either.
It’s about doing the work even when TGD folks aren’t around.
Being an active ally is about having tough conversations. These may be with friends, colleagues, or family. And they come about because of transphobic things someone may say or do.
When you take steps to become an active ally, you’re making a choice to no longer be complicit in someone else’s transphobia.
If you are a member of the TGD community and are really struggling with those around you being understanding of your experience, this episode may help you out as well.
LGBTQIA+ INCLUSION TRAINING
I know how tough these conversations can be from my own experience with family and friends.
And sometimes it can be a challenge to have those closest to you actually listen and be open to your experiences. Or even see that what you may be requesting them to do, is to support you and not to attack them.
So give them a listen to this episode. And perhaps hearing from someone they don’t know but shares a similar experience to you, may help them see things a bit differently.
Especially when it’s coming from someone that has these types of conversations with trainers, physiotherapists, and doctors for a living.
Part of my every day work is educating cis folks about Queer and TGD inclusion and allyship.
As well as advocating for TGD inclusion in sports and physical activity at a state, national and international level.
WHAT DOES CIS MEAN
Before I go any further I just want to clarify what cis means for anyone who may not know.
I want to be really clear here. Cis is NOT a slur or insult. It is a term that defines any person whose gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth.
If you’re not trans or gender diverse, you’re cis.
And I’m gonna be using this word to reference non TGD folks throughout these show notes.
DO THE WORK
Now what I’m going to sharing may also bring up challenging feelings for you.
This is totally ok. Why? Because it is showing you where you have work to do on yourself.
If you feel challenged by anything I share, take a moment and ask yourself why you’re feeling what you’re feeling.
Get really clear on what exactly you’re feeling.
Because you can’t understand and grow from it until you know what’s coming up for you.
And there’s no shame in having any feelings come up either.
We all have beliefs about things that we’ve developed through our lives, based on our lived experiences and the environments were raised in.
And it can be hard to change a belief we may have. Especially when our belief is constantly being re-enforced in our everyday lives.
I do want to point out here that our beliefs aren’t truth. They may be our own truth but they are not the truth of everyone and they don’t have to be.
This is one of the biggest challenges that TGD folks face.
So many cis folks try to push their own beliefs of gender onto those around them.
And I get it. Unless you’re trans or gender diverse you could not possibly fathom what it could be like to not feel aligned with your assigned sex at birth.
The same way, I could never fathom what it is like to be cis.
And that’s ok. I don’t have to know what it feels like to be accepting of your experience.
I believe cis folks when they say they are cis and that they see gender as binary. It is their truth.
Just because I view gender as a spectrum and not linear doesn’t mean they are wrong. Our truths are just different.
But both are equally valid. This is the most important thing to remember.
GENDER IS SELF DEFINED
Let’s take a look at one of the most prominent challenges that TGD folks face in a majority cis society.
We are told every day that we are wrong to self define our gender identities. That we have to be one gender or the other based purely on our genitals.
And that because “most people” are cis then there must be something wrong with us.
When to be honest, there is nothing wrong with being trans or gender diverse. And it’s not hard being trans or gender diverse.
What makes things so hard for Trans and Gender Diverse folks are the attitudes and actions of cis people towards us.
Because cis folks make TGD identities about themselves.
This is ultimately what it comes down to.
LEARN TO MANAGE YOUR EMOTIONS
Remember at the start how I said that it’s ok to have stuff come up for you and to reflect on it and learn about yourself and why you’re having these feelings?
Well, what happens more often than not, when challenging feelings come up for a cis person regarding TGD identities is not self-reflective.
Most of the time, cis folks project those challenging feelings onto the trans or gender diverse person.
They lash out. They say transphobic things. In some cases, they physically harm a trans or gender diverse person. This is actually a disturbingly common scenario.
Because these people make their feelings the responsibility of someone else. When instead they need to be accountable for their own feelings.
This is what makes life so hard for trans and gender diverse folks.
It’s because cis people make the situation about themselves.
Now this may be hard to read. You may even be denying that this happens. Thinking things like, not ALL cis people. I don’t do that. It’s just science. My religion says it’s a sin…
Take notice of these thoughts friend. As well as the feelings you’re having. Because I’ve just shared some things that actually happen to TGD folks.
Is your first response to deny, reject or get defensive about what I’ve shared? If it is, it’s because you’re making things about yourself and your own beliefs.
Sure, you may not think you do or say transphobic things. And you probably don’t openly harass Trans or Gender Diverse people. But many cis folks do.
And the hard truth is that you probably do in some form as well. You may just not be aware of it.
Now I don’t believe that cis folks are intentionally trying to be hurtful either. You don’t know what you don’t know.
This is why it’s so important that the first step you take in being able to better support TGD folks is to understand your own feelings and emotions.
Regardless of what you believe, someone else’s identity is not about you. And your truth is not someone else’s truth.
So remember, there are so many ways that people can express themselves.
And being supportive of a Trans or Gender Diverse as they explore their gender identity is the truest act of love that you can show them.
It doesn’t matter if you understand their experience. Just trust that they know who they are