Today I am handing over the blog to a volunteer who wishes to remain anonymous. I ask that you read this with the idea of allyship in mind – and maybe you could also pass it on to those who don’t see why disclosure is an issue.
A dear friend of mine was outed as trans recently. It wasn’t done deliberately or maliciously. It was a thoughtless, throwaway comment made to a stranger by someone who should have known better, resulting in a lot of distress and uncertainty for my friend, plus the eating of industrial quantities of ice cream. That’s not me being flippant, by the way, but comfort eating is a thing.
So, why am I writing a blog?
As a trans ally it’s the first time I’ve felt strongly enough about something to put virtual pen to paper. When I found out about what had happened, I was surprised at the depth of my feelings given that it wasn’t about me.
If I was angry and upset for my friend, I can’t imagine how they must have been feeling. Knowing that something so personal is out there in the public domain when you haven’t chosen to share it can bring up a lot of very strong emotions, and then you have to consider what the resulting consequences may be for life as you know it.
Could it affect your personal or professional life in any way? Not to mention the mental health aspect, both short and long term.
Some of you may think that something so seemingly trivial doesn’t matter and that my friend should just get over it. Put yourself in their shoes.
If a private and personal aspect of your own life was shared with people you don’t know and you had no control over what was done with the information, how would you feel? It could come back to bite you at any time in the future and you’d have no idea when or in what form. That careless remark could have lasting effects.
The upshot of this is a plea to think before you speak. Engage your brain before opening your mouth.
If you’re not sure if you should share something, just don’t. If you feel a burning desire to talk about someone else’s gender/sexuality/anything personal for any reason, just don’t. If it’s to help someone else, perhaps to share an experience, speak to the person concerned and either get their permission or work out another way that you can help. Respect their privacy.
And my friend? Well, the local ice cream shop has run dry, but I hope that my friend will eventually come to terms with what has happened and be able to move forward without constantly wondering ‘what if’?
Protecting trans people by respecting their privacy should be a no-brainer, whether you are trans or a trans ally.
Want another way to be a trans ally? You can apply to volunteer with us here.