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Although not always visible, trans* people exist in every walk of life and in your day to day life you will come across them without noticing. Research has found that 1% of people are trans* Although that doesn’t seem a great deal, if we think of this in number then it become apparent that 1% is actually quite a significant amount.
This is not to be confused with genitals. But usually those born with vaginas are assigned female and those born with penises are assigned male, there are a lot of complications that can result in intersex individuals. This may be someone who defines as the opposite gender, someone who doesn’t define gender or someone who defines as both genders at different times. Arguably it’s easier for social interactions if we have secure and recognisable gender roles and gender rules, however the way in which we prescribe gender in our society is often detrimental to those who don’t fit into a simple cisgender binary. Pivilege- although this sounds more complex than it is, our cisgender privilege is really just us acknowledging that we don’t have this form of oppression. It doesn’t mean that we don’t suffer any other type of oppression though. Cisgenderism- without meaning to, a lot of the things we do, such as confuse genitals and gender identity is cisgenderist.
Ifyou’re unsure about pronouns it’s acceptable to politely and discretely ask which pronouns a person prefers. Pronouns are important and it’s not acceptable to attach a pronouns to someone because of how you perceive their gender (if someone says they prefer a certain pronoun, despite how you feel they present their gender, it’s plain courtesy to use their chose pronoun).Using transphobic language is counter productive to secure trans* people are respected. It doesn’t matter if it’s a joke or if you have trans*. By using this language you legitimise a culture where trans* people are looked down upon. Examples of transphobic language most commonly found are the shortening of the word transvestite, this word has been used to marginalise and segregate trans* people and even if a trans* person uses it in a humours way themselves, it’s not acceptable. Other words like ‘shemale’ or ‘ladyboy’ are also extremely offensive and unacceptable.Especially if it relates to an experience only trans* people haveAlthough we’re really lucky top have a trans* rep who is happy to educate us but it’s not the job of every trans* person to answer your questions, go out and educate yourself. Challenging transphobia can be a particularly daunting experience, especially seeing as it’s often usualised for transphobic jokes to be part of every day interactions. But even just stating that transphobic language and jokes make you feel uncomfortable can go a long way in changing the dynamic of a conversation. This mean the person wonders and maybe even asks why rather than feeling attacked.
Other people’s bodies aren’t our business and however curious you are remember how personal a process transitioning gender is. Asking questions about someone’s surgery also implies that you won’t see them as their chosen gender until they have had surgery, which in itself is problematic because.Not all trans* people have surgery. Some trans* people define into both genders, are gender fluid, don’t define gender or simply don’t want surgery and that doesn’t make their gender identity less important or valid.A trans* person’s ‘real’ gender IS their chosen gender. Obviously this is quite basic, just respecting people’s privacy. Outting someone who is stealth about their gender identity or gender reassignment isn’t Ok. Nor is saying things like ‘Blahblah was assigned female at birth but think she is secretly a trans* man’. Stop trying to discern gender. If someone presents an androgynous gender identity and you get the burning desire to know how they define or which ender they are, ask yourself if your knowledge about their gender identity is needed. It’s usually not. Please don’t use what you’ve learned here today to spot trans* people when you’re out and about, this session is about making you aware of how to support and include trans* people, not giving you tips on spotting them.
Trans* people are often ignored or silenced. Our society is set up to listen to cisgender people. As trans* allies one of the best things we can do is just shut up for a bit. As society is cisnormative and we often become used to the tried and tested systems of cisnormativity, we can often let our cisgender privilege get in the way of our being good allies to trans* people. Checking privilege is just reminding yourself that you have an advantage out in the big bad world and that you should give time and assistance to those that don’t.41% of trans* people will attempt suicide at some point, mental wellbeing in trans* people is disproportionately bad. This isn’t simply because they are struggling with their gender identity, this is because fo the way society interacts with people who are trans*. We need to protect trans* rights and help fight with our trans* activists to change this. Pronouns are extremely important, and it’s important that we get them right. If in doubt; ask. And if you do slip up, apologise and move on, don’t make a massive deal out of it. Challenging transphobia isn’t about ‘not being able to take a joke. There may be social awkwardness when you challenge transphobic language, but you shouldn’t feel bad about doing so. The good you are doing far outweighs the few moment of awkward silence.
There are many places to get information on trans* issues and advice on how to be a trans* ally. A lot of resources are on line including guides to language, posters, and personal accounts of experiences/
Being an ally to trans
Being an Ally to
How you can do your bit in making the
world a better place for trans* people.
Where are they?
• Although not always visible, trans* people
exist in every walk of life.
• Research has found that 1% of people are
• 1% of the UK’s population is 653,500
• 1% of Edge Hill’s population is 270
Assigned gender- the gender you’re assigned at birth
Trans*- a person for whom the gender they were assigned a birth
doesn’t match with the gender they define into
Cisgender- a person for whom the gender they were assigned at
birth does match up with the gender they define into.
Gender Binary- the idea that gender identity fits into two binary
catergories of masculine and feminine
Cisnormative- the way society is set up in the advantage of
cisgender people, often to the exclusion and disadvantage of
Cisgender Privilege- the privilege cisgender people experience
due to a cisnormative society
Cisgenderism- discrimination that ignores, belittles and
stigmatises any behaviour that isn’t typically cisgender
Why do trans* people need
• The trans* population alone cannot change the way
in which society treats gender expression.
• The T in LGBT+ is often ignored and those of us in the
LGBT+ movement have a responsibility to make room
for trans* activists.
• Trans* people like any other struggling group need to
know that not everyone who is cisgendered holds
the same tired and discriminatory opinions they
Do’s and Don’ts
Here are some guidelines, or advisory points for
being an ally to trans* people and for being
trans* positive in whatever role you play in
representing or interacting with trans* people.
It is by no means a definitive list and should be
used a basis for going out and educating
• Mind the Pronouns.
• Stop using transphobic language.
• Take a lead from trans* people on what
language they prefer. E.g ‘transition’ and not
• Take time out to educate yourself.
• Challenge transphobia. E.g. ‘Transphobic
language makes me feel uncomfortable’.
• Ask interrogative questions about gender or
surgery, if someone wants to tell you, they
• Presume all trans* people want surgery.
• Say things like ‘real’ gender.
• Out people! If you meet someone in a safe
space meeting, educational or training event,
please be aware they may not be out outside
of this space.
• Try and ‘spot’ trans* people.
• Listen. Trans* people are often ignored or
• Check privilege.
• Get protective.
• Get comfortable with challenging stubborn
ideas and cultures.
Each of us has a duty not to stand for
transphobia whether it’s in a joke or
institutionalised. Transphobia leads to bad
mental wellbeing and high suicide rates for
trans* people. When we talk about trans*
people, we’re not talking about people we don’t
know. We are talking about our friends, our
partners, our students, our tutors, our family and
maybe our children. Being an LGBT+ activist
means being a trans* activist/ally.