Thoughts on being a trans ally

Maybe its just that I live with a transwoman now, but it seems to me that some trans allies love to throw cis privilege around without even realizing that they are doing it, then get really mad and belligerent when a trans person calls them on it. I totally understand making mistakes and not realizing that you are, but when a trans person calls you on it, you don’t get to tell them that they don’t get to talk about trans issues, that they don’t get to define what is transphobic. If someone calls you on it, apologize and fix it!!!! Having had 5 different people over the last few weeks do this to my fiancée, and seeing the terrible effect that this has on her, I have become increasingly aware of the problem of allies who say they are allies, but exercise cis privilege, and are only allies as long as it doesn’t cost them anything (like going to Michfest), and who value their own opinions over the safety of the oppressed community that they claim to care about.

 

If you want to be a good ally: always listen to trans people and allow them to speak for themselves. If they call you out, don’t get mad, apologize and change your behaviour. Your definition of transphobia does not take precedence over a transperson’s. Being an ally isn’t something you can pay lip service too – you don’t get to stop being an ally to go to a trans-exclusionary event or see a transphobic performer you really like. You don’t get to tell a transperson that they cannot define and describe their own oppression. It isn’t all going to coffee houses and marching in the Trans March – you have to live it every day, even when it is uncomfortable, or inconvenient, or awkward. And you should always be willing to reflect on your own behaviour, and make changes as necessary, especially when a trans-person tells you there is an issue.

Just my two cents…

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Asexuals at Pride

My fiancée and I were able to march with as part of the Asexual Contingent at Toronto Pride this weekend. I had marched with them last year; it was the fiancée’s first time. It was a really empowering experience for me. We had a sign that said Asexual Love is also Real Love, which could almost have been made for us. Having felt broken for so many years, it was great to feel truly part of the community. And marching in Toronto pride, you definitely feel supported, with a million people smiling, waving, and cheering you on.

Pride is often an interesting experience for me; it is so very sex focused, and in many ways very sexonormative. On the other hand, it unites many disparate communities whose bond is difference from the heternormative majority, which I feel connects me with the other letters of the queer alphabet soup. It was also great to be able to be their with my fiancée – having spent most of my teens and twenties assuming I would have to let myself be raped in order to have a romantic relationship, being able to share the one of my favourite holidays of the year with my asexual fiancée is more than I ever thought would be available to me.

Pride is so much more than just a big parade. It is not only a chance to celebrate who we are, but it is also political – it is getting people to question their assumptions about gender, about sexuality, gender roles; and yes, about the differences between sex and love and how they intersect in our society.

Pride is about more than laws – it is about visibility, education, celebration, changing society as well as governments. So I am proud to have marched to spread awareness of my community. I march for the people like me, the girls (or boys) who may be in that crowd, feeling broken, feeling that there is something wrong with them, feeling that they don’t belong. I will always be willing to march, to be out, to talk about my own experiences, to challenge assumptions; if I can help even one person feel more accepted and less broken, it is worth absolutely everything.