In recognition of International Transgender Day of Visibility on the 31st of March, BSUH NHS Trust is running a month of weekly information and activities. Part One can be found here. This is Part Two and you can use the resources to explore gender identity. If you need advice or guidance please contact the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team directly.
While some people who identify as trans choose to be visible at different points in their life or all their life , it is worthwhile recognising that different circumstances may make it more difficult for others to do so or it may not be something that a trans identified person chooses to do or someone who has undergone a trans journey may prefer to identify fully as their chosen gender identity and live within the pre-existing socio-economic-political- cultural framework. It is important to recognise this choice as equally valid in terms of the human rights of an individual, and it doesn’t stop their journey being any less relevant.
It is also worthwhile using this opportunity to consider how the notion of being trans is configured differently across the world and impacts trans people from different ethnic and religious/belief groups in the UK. Gender was considered as a spectrum rather than as a binary and trans individuals were an integral part of communities in countries and cultures in Africa, Asia and indigenous American (North and South) communities prior to the imposition of binary structures and legal frameworks by colonising nations. It is important to recognise this in terms of the historical contribution to gender identity theories, formation and inclusion of people from all over the world. It also helps people who are allies be alert to difference and minorities within the trans community itself. Finally it helps us to also realise the length of time being taken to achieve human rights for the trans community.
Week Two: Allies – being a good ally
‘What’s more important: how you see me, or respecting how I see me?’
So what is a trans ally? An ally in general, is ‘someone who advocates for and supports members of a community other than their own; reaching across differences to achieve mutual goals’. Trans allies are non-trans people whose support is focussed on the trans community. An additional resources is a toolkit developed by Eli Green.
Things not to say to a trans person: BBC3
This is what non-binary looks like – a video resource created by Fox & Owl for London Pride.
Sh*t people say to trans people – a comedy sketch highlighting some of the more ridiculous and bizarre things people say about trans people.
Learning: Understand the differences between ‘coming out’ as lesbian, bisexual or gay and ‘coming out’ as transgender. Recognise that ‘coming out’ can be a lifelong process within current binary structures.
Practice: Being a good ally – the Straight for Equality program aims to provide allies with key learning tools. Additional tips:
- Do your research.
- Speak up.
- It is not the responsibility of a trans person to be your teacher, so look things up on your own.
- Politely correct others if they use the wrong pronoun for a trans individual.
- Call out friends, peers and media sources who make transphobic, hateful or simply ignorant remarks.
- Know your own limits as an ally.