Transgender Day of Remembrance ("TDoR") falls today, 20 November. For a number of years now, Eversheds Sutherland Ireland has marked Transgender Awareness Week, which leads up to TDoR. It is a week during which we bring attention to the transgender community through education around what it means to be transgender, sharing stories and experiences, and advancing advocacy around the issues of prejudice and discrimination that affect the transgender community. It is also an opportunity to celebrate with our transgender friends and family.
How to be an ally to the trans community
In the fight for equality, we all need to do what we can to stand in solidarity with the transgender community. We have set out a few tips below on how to be an ally. The list is by no means exhaustive but provides a useful starting point.
- Set an inclusive tone - Be aware of the language you use when referring to people. Try to use non-genderspecific language. For example, use "the person in the blue jumper at the front" instead of "the woman at the front". Consider using "folks" instead of "guys". Challenge yourself to come up with and use non-gendered, inclusive alternatives to "Dear Sirs" if that is your company's preferred salutation in letter writing.
- Pronouns (ie he/him, she/her, they/them) - If you do not know what pronouns someone prefers to use, listen first to see what they use. If you still cannot tell, ask politely and respectfully. If you make a mistake, apologise and move on.
- Don't make assumptions - Never assume a person's sexual orientation or gender identity. Gender identity is not the same as sexual orientation. Trans people can be gay, straight, bi... just as cisgender people can be!
- Know your limits! – You cannot know everything, but you can be open to learning. Remember always to be polite and respectful and keep challenging yourself to learn more.
- Suggested viewing – Disclosure: Trans Lives on Screen (available on Netflix) invites us to see the interplay between trans representation onscreen, the resulting cultural attitudes off-screen and the real-world consequences of these depictions on trans people's lives. It is an important call to arms for allies of the trans community to better understand and support the community.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.