Trans allyship: a thread. I've been asked to speak on panels about trans activism a lot the last few years, esp through pride month. One question I *always* get asked is: what can people do to be in solidarity/allyship. I've been asked it year on year on year:
1. Remember Trans ppl are many ¬ the same: This is true in v.many ways; the spectrum of trans men, women, agender, nb, genderqueer folks. But Trans people are also Black, PoC, disabled, autistic, poor etc. Don't centre white non-disabled transness &add the rest of us on later.
1a. This should be at the forefront of your mind when thinking about Trans solidarity, Black trans women, Trans sex workers, disabled trans people and poor trans people are all the *most* affected by anti-trans violence, and systemic inequalities.
2. Educate yourself: Ppl ask this so much because it's easier to ask then to read and research for yourselves. Newness feels overwhelming, but many have put their stories out into the world for you already:
3a. BUT remember point 1: most trans ppl who get book deals etc. are more privileged then many who don't. Look a bit harder: Black on Both Sides by @CRileySnorton, Beyond the Gender Binary by @alokvmenon, I'm Afraid of Men by @vivekshraya, Redefining Realness by @janetmock
3b. Read I Hope We Choose Love by @razorfemme, Exile and Pride by Eli Clare, When the Chant Comes by Kay Ulanday Barrett. Watch the incredible Disclosure Doc on @netflix Netflix with @Lavernecox, @PoseOnFX and Paris is Burning. Read and watch So. Much. More.
4a. Base your solidarity on real life: When the conversation becomes about abstract theory on things like gender & sex, bring it back to our real lives. "52% of anti-LGBTQ homicides...were committed against trans & GNC people..."
4b. "...40% of anti-LGBTQ homicides were... against trans women of color". We are overrepresented in unemployment, poverty, homelessness. Are discriminated against in employment, medical care and civic life.
4c. In the UK, 9/10 young trans kids have considered suicide. 1/2 all trans ppl in UK have attempted suicide
5a. See our humanity: One of the reasons it's so easy to portray Trans folks as monsters, freaks and weirdos is because there are so few of us. We are about 1% of the population. Most people haven't (knowingly) ever met a Trans person. Seeking out voices of Trans ppl is important
5b. Follow trans voices (incl. the ones listed above) e.g. @IndyaMoore @MunroeBergdorf @aaronphilipxo @iHartEricka @autistichoya @travisalabanza @TheMrMilan BUT understand that we aren't here for your consumption. In increasing visibility, Trans people are forced to trade in
5c. our humanity. There is a real human cost. I hate public talking but feel compelled to speak on panels as an activist strategy so folks understand I'm just a person, & hearing from the real&full experience instead of the caricature of us, or the stats about violence against us
6a. Be led by safety not comfort: These things often get conflated when talking about trans lives and multiple oppressions. When there is comfort we should ask "whose safety does this comfort come at?".
6b. Making someone uncomfortable is also a primary weapon against oppressed and discriminated against people. Don't let non-trans people's comfort come at the expense of trans people's safety.
6c. Discomfort is important for learning. We need more trans allies leaning into uncomfortable conversations with misinformed, inquisitive, questioning and unsure people so that (a) they can grow in their understanding about us without (b) Trans people having to do that work.
6d. If they aren't being hateful then lean into those uncomfortable conversations. Remember you are still learning, and at a point had to learn what they are grappling with. Be compassionate. Be humble. I'm still learning too, so you must be!
7a. Recognise the Visible/Invisible dichotomy: As per point 5 Trans Visibility comes at an immense personal cost (esp. to trans women and femmes). It's also used as a way to divide and rule the Trans community
7b. In activism, platforms and visibility also often invisibilises all the work that has come before, and continues to happen behind the scenes. That doesn't mean it's bad --- not all activism should or needs to be seen, but we should be aware of it
7c. I often notice that when I talk to white trans people and non-trans allies my comments and analysis will appear in their tweets and articles uncredited. This isn't a subtweet because on a personal level I don't care, it's not why I do the work, but on a structural level...
7d. the erasure of trans, BPOC, disabled voices in their own narratives is one way that invisibilising works as a political tool against our communities
8a. Question who you've harmed: questions how in your pursuit to educate yourself and educate others you've recreated harm. “Allies” often start to think of themselves as a “good” white/cis/straight/non-disabled etc person: they refer to notable public figures as a symbolic way
8b. of profiling the work of the marginalised identity they are talking about; but rarely take the time to think about all the people from that identity who they did their *actual* learning through and who paid the price of their mistakes. You didn’t get to the position of
8c. awareness you’re in by solely reading books or watching public figures - you did it because of the small interventions, the teachings and the patience and grace of marginalised people around you. Take the time to recognise that and to thank them.
9a. Symbolism matters: It signals to us that we are safe(r) in a space if you share your pronouns, indicate you support trans people, have gender neutral toilets, speak up for trans rights. It also shows solidarity in numbers in a toxic anti-trans landscape.
9b. Symbolic demands are also a useful way to centre our activisms on the structures we are fighting. Ableism, racism, homo/lesbo/bi/queerphobias, transphobia are all structurally bound up in industrial&post-industrial global capitalism and the eugenicist underpinnings of this
9c. system; colonisation, extraction and removal of bodily autonomy are all part of this.
9d. It also helps us push forward our vision to stay symbolic. After decades of abolitionist activisms, "Abolition Now" no longer seems as symbollic as it did even 6 months ago. We don't need to limit ourselves to reformism.
10a. But, Instrumental demands matter too: Pragmatism isn't always reformism. Symbolic demands act as a north star, and help us mobilise for people "trans rights are human rights" is true and rings loud. But if all our allies are only ever shouting this one message...
10b. meaningful change won't necessarily happen. We need you to remember point 4 as a guiding principle. Focus on our material reality in the day to day. It's about murder, homelessness, suicide, poverty and more. Be led by symbolism, but act on instrumentalism.
11a. Systems change is won by small steps and huge leaps: weaving all of this together. We need you to do more than read and tweet and educate. We need you to ACT. Focussing on the systems can sometimes make us feel powerless, but we all have power.
11b. we need you to recognise your power and act on it in small and local ways. We need better trans inclusion in toilets, shops, homeless shelters and women's services. Pronouns on zoom calls. Trans inclusive health services. Uncomfortable conversations with aunt Karen.
11c. Identify where you can make change and doggedly make it, staying humble and compassionate and remembering we are all learning and growing. But safety has to be more important than comfort.