Tips on how to be a trans ally – written by the Trans*Form Group
- Respect people’s pronouns!
If someone tells you their pronouns, use them, even if you knew them before they changed their pronouns! If you mess up someone’s pronouns, correct yourself and continue the conversation. Don’t make a big deal out of it as this can be embarrassing and make the individual uncomfortable. The same applies to names.
- Don’t ask invasive questions!
Questions like ‘what gender were you born as?’ ‘have you had surgery?’ ‘are you on hormones?’ ‘what genitals do you have?’ are all questions you shouldn’t ask a trans individual. Another question to avoid is ‘what is your birth name?’ Although you may be curious as to what someone’s name was before they changed it, do not ask them.
- Don’t out anyone!
If someone has told you in confidence that they are trans, but are not ready to come out publicly or to certain people, make sure you do not tell anyone. They will come out in their own time when they feel ready to do so. This may mean misgendering them or calling them a different name in front of certain people, make sure to ask when and where it is appropriate to use certain names or pronouns.
- Don’t assume!
If you’re not sure what pronouns to use for someone, just ask. They would much rather you ask than just assume (and possibly end up using the wrong ones). If you’re not comfortable with outright asking, maybe introduce yourself by saying your name and pronouns and then asking theirs in return, or even just listen to what pronouns other people use for that person, and then once you’re sure, use them.
- Gender does not equal sexual orientation!
Don’t assume a trans person’s sexual orientation. Trans people can have many different sexualities, just the same as cisgender people can.
- Be patient and supportive!
Many people spend time exploring or unsure of their gender identity, whilst they are still figuring things out. They may change name and pronouns multiple times, this is perfectly okay, not everyone knows right away. Make sure to always use the name and pronouns that fit them at the time, and don’t get irritated if they do change their name and pronouns a lot.
- Always ask!
If you know someone who’s gender changes regularly, for example, one day they are male, and the next they are non-binary, and another they’re female, make sure to ask them what pronouns to use for them that day so that you don’t offend or misgender them.
- Stand up for us!
If you hear someone using transphobic language or slurs, call them out, explain to them why what they have said is wrong, and tell them the correct term or way of saying something. This also goes for misgendering, if someone you know is being misgendered, correct the person who is doing so. Some trans people struggle to correct people themselves, so they will probably appreciate the help and support, this also shows them that you respect their identity.
- Make pronouns a ‘normal’ thing to ask someone!
At the beginning of meetings or other events where everyone may not know each other, suggest starting the session with everyone introducing themselves and stating their name and pronouns, that way everyone in that space knows how to refer to one another.
- Respect privacy!
Make sure that the trans people you know are aware that they can talk to you in confidence, although there are many things you shouldn’t ask, some trans individuals may want to talk to someone about these things, make sure you’re always there to listen, and make sure the conversation stays between the two of you.