The last eight years have meant a lot of progress on transgender rights, thanks to the Obama administration's use of existing legislation that protects against discrimination based on sex. His administration argued that those statutes inherently include gender identity — and that has helped legal protections move along quickly. But now we're in Trump land, and as we've seen with the transgender protections in schools that were just revoked, the administration is not going to be a leader in this area anymore. So, it's up to us. Here are 11 ways you can help trans people in everyday life, because culture isn't going to change on its own.
There were many federal agencies working on the side of trans Americans under Obama, among them the DOJ, the Education Department, and the Department of Health & Human Services. And even though I realize you and I can't fully take on all the work that they've done, there is still hope. If we all work on being good allies, we can try to hold the Trump administration accountable and influence society to change in the absence of leadership from the White House. It doesn't even have to be hard; you can be an effective trans ally in your day-to-day life.
1) Meet People Better
Just like anything else in life, don't make assumptions regarding gender identity and expression. In group settings, you should always make sure the environment is safe and welcoming of trans folk — but you can adapt this to your day-to-day interactions. You often can't tell when someone is transgender — and if they are, it's something for them to share with you if they feel comfortable.
2) Read Books
It's important to be an informed ally — you can't advocate for something that you don't understand. Read Gender Outlaw by Kate Bornstein or Redefining Realness by Janet Mock to try and understand the transgender experience. That's in addition to information that you should find and learn from trans advocacy groups.
Gavin Grimm is a remarkable youngster. Listen to him & maybe you will feel differently towards transgender rights https://t.co/66kqpKyQG1— Dr. Suanne (@healthpby) February 12, 2017
This is good advice in life, generally. In addition to the typical social norms that suggest you let others do some of the talking, you should listen to trans people because they know more than you do about this. You'll never know what a trans' person experience is like unless you let them tell you.
4) Share Your Pronouns & Listen For Theirs
Let people know the pronouns that you prefer to use — even if you've known each other for years. It's a great way to get to raise the topic of transgender rights in a way that's relatable. Explain how it works and why it matters.
Then, when you meet people, make sure you don't assume their pronouns. Listen to see which ones they use.
5) Buy Your Conservative Relatives A Jackie Evancho CD
This might sound ridiculous since she performed at Trump's inauguration, but Evancho has done a great job speaking out on trans rights, and Trump might actually listen to her. Plus her sister just won a court case that could help protect trans rights in schools.
But why stop with Trump learning from Evancho? When you gift the album, include articles about Evancho and her sister, or make it a teaching moment and explain trans issues yourself.
6) Call Your Legislators
People who are looking to resist but don't know what to do-- voila. Take five minutes and speak out— Caroline Devereaux (@CarolineRoseDev) February 24, 2017
This might not seem like a day-to-day activity, but it should be! This is a great way to resist Trump. There is the Five Calls website to make the job easier, so make it a part of your routine. When you do, mention trans rights and voila!
7) Ask Where The Gender Neutral Toilets Are
We’re thrilled that our new gender neutral toilet signage has arrived! pic.twitter.com/iJ9i9SgO7c— Museum Studies Leics (@LeicsMusStud) February 16, 2017
Have to pee? Ask where the gender-neutral bathroom is. If the business doesn't have one, express your disappointment.
8) Watch TV Critically
See something that doesn't jive right on TV? When you're watching, make sure they treat trans issues correctly. If they don't, fill out a media defamation report with GLAAD.
9) Go On Vacation To Malta
No, seriously. They have the world's best trans legislation. Show your support for societies that treat trans people justly. Spend your money there. Plus, you know, it's gorgeous.
10) Follow @TransEquality
11) Go To Your School Board Meetings
Remember the big trans rights case that Trump's Department of Justice decided it wouldn't support? Well, it's against a school board. Even if the trans protections are removed — and hopefully the Supreme Court will rule in support of students — the fight's not over.
You can still push your local school board to recognize transgender students (and employees) in their non-discrimination policy. Go to the school board meetings. Ask to speak. Let them know that trans rights matter in your community. Start now.
These are just some things you can do to be a trans ally throughout your day-to-day. But consider going out of your way to step up too: go to protests, go to rallies. Routine is great, but why stop there?