How to Support Your Trans Family Members and Friends

E-A-T Article: How to Be A Better Ally to Your Trans Family Member and Friends?

It’s well known that, unfortunately, transgender people face many challenges in the world. According to the Human Rights Campaign, trans people “face severe discrimination,

stigma and systemic inequality.” Specific problems include lack of legal protection and health care coverage as well as violence against trans people. Trans people need the

allyship of the communities around them to help push forward change and drive home acceptance in all parts of life.

Here are some ways to be a better ally to your trans family members and friends.

Use the Correct Pronouns

It’s likely hardest for trans people to ask friends or family, people who have known them for years, to acknowledge new pronouns. What are pronouns? According to the Binghampton University LGBTQ Center “pronouns are an important part of how we identify that deserves to be respected. And we recognize that assuming someone’s gender can be

hurtful, especially to members of our community who are transgender, genderqueer, or gender expansive.” Examples of pronouns include he/him, she/her, or the

gender-neutral they/them.

If your friend or family member shares their pronouns with you, respect them, whether their pronouns are the same or different from how you’ve known them for years. It can

be very harmful to misgender a person, according to Healthline.com), “misgendering can have negative consequences for a transgender person’s self-confidence and overall

mental health.” If you accidentally misgender someone, just swiftly apologize, remember their pronouns for next time, and move on. Don’t dwell on your mistake — it will only

make things more uncomfortable for the person you misgendered.

Use Their Preferred or Chosen Name

Similarly to pronouns, it’s important to refer to a transgender person by their preferred (sometimes, known as chosen) name, according to Johns Hopkins University. What's a

preferred name? According to the article, “a preferred name (sometimes known as a chosen name, a nickname, or a name-in-use) is the use of a name, usually a first name, that

is different from a person’s legal name.”

If a transgender loved one introduces themself or refers to themself as their chosen name, you should refer to them that way, too. It shows you respect them and you're

listening to their needs. Make a deliberate effort to refer to your loved one by their chosen name, and don’t be afraid to correct those around you who get their name wrong.

Advocate

Donate to nonprofits like the Trevor Project and ACLU, which are working to create an equal and supportive world for trans people. Also, be sure to look into local groups that

are working for positive change within your own community. There are likely groups through nearby youth centers, community centers, or neighborhood organizations that need your help (and likely have fewer resources than the national organizations). You can support their work through monetary donations—or, if you have time, you can get in contact with your local branch and see what kind of in-person support they need. Many organizations may need help organizing donations, with set-up for an upcoming event, and

maybe even have part-time volunteer positions available on an ongoing basis. Many of these organizations only survive because of volunteer resources, so don't be afraid to help out.

Be There to Listen

Sometimes, lending an ear is all someone needs when they’re faced with a stressful situation. Be there to listen to your transgender loved one, whether they’re talking about frustrations with discrimination or are coming out as transgender to you.

In an article published on HuffPost.com by Brittany Wong, Wong states that “when someone shares their experience with you, your primary job is to listen openly and without

judgment. You don’t have to understand the nuances of a person’s transgender identity to respect it or show your family member the same baseline respect you would

otherwise.”

Like any other situation, it’s important to be there to listen and support someone when they confide in you. For the trans community, having a safe network of people they can

rely on is crucial—especially since trans people are faced with discrimination at the workplace, public spaces, and more, according to the ACLU.

And, unfortunately, trans people also face rampant transphobia, as stated in an article on PlannedParenthood.com, which is harmful to trans people’s mental health, underscoring their need for support. Planned Parenthood stresses that “transphobia can result in violence and even murder. It can also result in depression, substance abuse, self-harm, and suicide.” So, be there to support your trans loved ones. They certainly need it in this tough-on-trans-people world.