This blog is in response to being asked about how one cis person can support another cis person’s understanding of trans+ experiences. I’ll be moving slightly out of my usual format today.
Raise trans+ voices
The most basic ways to do this are quoting people who are trans+ and reposting trans+ voices on social media. Maybe instead of “oh, that means such and such” when someone cis is unsure about something you could share a blog or post by a trans+ author with them.
Speak alongside, not in front
If there’s a trans+ person involved in the conversation, support the conversation rather than leading it. If you are in a larger group, actively hand the conversation back to the trans+ voice(s) in the room if they don’t have an opportunity to speak – “I’d like to hear what Alex has to say on this.”
Be an ally – that means asking questions
No, I don’t mean go and ask someone trans+ all the questions. What I do mean is that you can find resources that people have already put online, attend an event with a speaker who you might be able to learn from, or get some training from us*.
Know your limits
Sometimes this can be as simple as knowing that you need to find out more before you can answer something. Other times it might be going back to finding a trans+ voice or three to explain a topic (social media posts can be great for this). Also, don’t forget that saying “to my understanding” in front of something that you know that you only loosely understand can clarify that you’re not sure but are trying to be helpful to people who know less than you do.
Acknowledge you don’t know it all
Don’t have an answer to something? That’s great! It’s an opportunity to both learn and model to someone how to find out their own answers. Find the answers with them – and don’t forget to talk through how you’re doing it.