Ally isn’t just a noun, it is a verb. The most important role of an ally is to use their privilege to help make our communities safer and more inclusive of transgender individuals. Transgender individuals can only do so much to advance their cause. Visibility helps to inspire and embolden other transgender individuals to live open and affirming lives. However, visibility can put transgender people at risk for increased violence and social problems.

Allies, on the other hand, can be visible with less risk to their personal safety. Moreover, allies tend to have more respect, privilege, and economic resources than transgender individuals. For this reason, allies must be a visible presence, support system, and force for change for the transgender community. Here are some simple steps for radical change:

Stand Up, Speak Out

Speaking out requires that you listen and learn. If you listen to transgender individuals and learn more about their identity and struggles, then you will be better equipped to speak out against oppression. This doesn’t mean that you have to hold rallies or give speeches on behalf of the transgender community. In fact, it is preferable for trans voices to be the more prominent voices in these arenas. Sometimes, standing up and speaking out is merely stopping transphobic jokes or comments, correcting myths and information, or stepping in when a transgender peer is victimized. Be a peer educator and compassionately and firmly educate your friends, family, and colleagues about gender identity. Be an ally and use your privilege to stand up and speak out.

Being an Ally Isn’t a Part-Time Job

You cannot be an ally at work but ignore transphobia at home. You cannot be an ally when you are with other allies but silent when you are alone among transphobic people. When you take the pledge to be an ally to the transgender community, you have to be passionate about supporting the transgender community all the time. It can be hard to be an ally and to stand up and speak out, but with practice you will become better and stronger at being an ally. The takeaway: Be passionate about social justice in every facet of your life.

Demand Change in Your Community

Social acceptance is only one part of creating social change. Until transgender individuals are protected equally under the law, our communities will not be truly safe, inclusive, or affirming of transgender individuals. Be bold and demand that your government, the businesses you support, your school, your workplace, and your community be inclusive and affirming of your transgender friends and family members. Remember, that you are not an ally unless allyship is part of your entire life. If you say you are an ally but vote for a transphobic lawmaker, then you aren’t an ally. If you say you are an ally but support businesses which openly discriminate against transgender customers, then you are not  an ally.

Show Consistent Support

Many people who claim to be allies say that they support transgender individuals. While this is great, if you are not actually actively supporting transgender individuals or organizations, then your allyship is incomplete. Your transgender loved ones need your affirmation and support as they go through their transition, especially during the early stages of transition and during a difficult time for the transgender community. Be there for them and make sure to follow up and follow through when you say “I’m here for you.” The majority of support for transgender individuals comes from organizations and foundations created specifically for transgender individuals. Major LGBTQ+ organizations, and most state-level organizations, have to serve the community equally. Transgender individuals have very unique needs, and their organizations provide the exact support they need. Giving financial support to these organization helps them help transgender people and demonstrates how serious you are in your pledge to support transgender people.

Take the next step: Take the Ally Pledge ›

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